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Study Design Abroad: Robyn Hunt, Cape Town to Shillington Sydney

After lots of Googling, Robyn Hunt made a big call—deciding to study design abroad at Shillington in Sydney, Australia—moving all the way from Cape Town, South Africa! A recent university graduate, Robyn knew she loved the creative side of marketing, and wanted a short course to help her upskill and better prep for landing her first full-time job.

Robyn now works as an Interaction Designer at Fjord, a design and innovation consultancy. Read on to learn more about her study abroad experience in Sydney, why she was sceptical of the Shillington course at first, and how she “networked” her way into her design job!

You’re originally from Cape Town. What were you up to before Shillington?

I only arrived in Sydney from South Africa about 4 days before starting Shillington. Looking back, it was a super chaotic time, but also, a very exciting one—as you can imagine, everything was new. Before Shillington, I had just finished studying a BA in Marketing Communications at an advertising college in Cape Town.

How did you discover Shillington? Why did you decide to study abroad in Sydney?

I always had the idea in mind of leaving South Africa once I was finished my degree—so when I was given the opportunity to head down to Sydney—I grabbed it with both hands, and saw it as an adventure. I knew that I wasn’t ready to jump into the big wide working world quite yet.

During my degree, I loved the marketing side, but also really enjoyed working with the creatives and seeing our strategies and ideas turn into something real.

The creative industry is such huge industry and there’s so much you can do in it—that I thought if I could find any form of a creative short course I’d be silly not to give it a go.

I found out about Shillington honestly just by googling graphic design courses in Sydney. It was one of the top courses that popped up (so naturally, I was a tiny bit skeptical), so did a lot of research on it and even messaged past pupils in Australia. I was still busy with my degree at the time, so also took the course structure to the Design Head at my college—and got her stamp of approval.

What visa allowed you to study abroad in Australia?

I was very fortunate to receive sponsorship in 2017 through my dad and his work. It is a 457 visa, which allows me to study, work and live in Australia. This is a great visa to try organise, because after a few years, you’re eligible for permanent residency.

Editor’s note: if you don’t have a family connection for a visa (lucky Robyn!), discover your best visa options to study with us in Australia, the United Kingdom or New York City.

What were your favourite things about living and studying in Australia?

My favourite thing was (and still is) the safety of the country. Coming from South Africa, it was quite a culture shock knowing I could walk around without being on high alert. I also moved to Glebe halfway through the course, and taking the ferry every morning is definitely up there in the favourites. I’d recommend coming to Australia just for the ferry rides—not to mention the great Instagram pictures you get from the ferry.

Studying in Australia you also get to meet incredible people of all different cultures and backgrounds.

If I think of my Shillington class, we were a super weird mixture of people—so much so, that on the first day, I panicked a little bit to be honest—but after a week we’d all become such great friends and it was truly the most supportive and encouraging class you could ever wish for.


Any recommendations for students hoping to study abroad?

Starting with a bit of the realistic side of things, firstly accept the fact that it will be tough. Being in a new country really does test you. You’ll have some days where it will all hit at once and other day’s where you’ll feel on cloud nine. I’d encourage you to embrace those feelings, good or bad – if you need a cry, have a cry (trust me, it helps). Just remember that there is always someone willing to lend you a helping hand, as well as a much needed little cuddle

Onto something brighter though, if you’re wanting to study abroad, my recommendation is to get all the facts and details—and just jump in. Book the ticket and go! You will learn so much about yourself, and grow so much as a person. It’s such an exciting journey and one that you’ll treasure forever—so take the leap and enjoy the ride. If you’re a little anxious, harness those feelings and turn it into excitement.

Since graduation you’ve interned a few places in Sydney. Tell us about those internships!

I interned a bit after my degree last year November/December (before Shillington). I wanted to test out how living in Sydney could be, as well as what the general work culture was like before I made the move. My internships probably weren’t as hands on and practical as I’d have liked them to be. It was a very slow time so there wasn’t much for me to do. With that said though, I interned at two advertising agencies, so it was very interesting to see how they work and how people from different departments work together. Overall, it was a great opportunity to meet people in the industry with all different backgrounds and skill sets.

You recently landed a job as UX Designer at Fjord. What was your interview process like?

My interview process was a little unordinary, I approached Fjord and asked if I could come in and have a chat to learn about what they do and what they offer.

I met with 5 people from the agency at different times and had a really casual chat, sharing what their job role involves, as well as sharing my interests and skills. My last meeting with with the Design Lead at Fjord, and after our chat he gave me a “Challenge Brief” to have a crack at, and then come back the next week to present it. So that’s exactly what I did. One thing led to another… and here I am today!

What’s your favourite project from your Shillington portfolio?

I have two favourite projects from my Shillington portfolio. My ultimate favourite is my ‘Audrey Hepburn – British Film Institute’ branding and brochure project. That’s the one piece in my portfolio that I feel really represents my personality, and was such fun working on something that I had a genuine passion for.

My second favourite project is my ‘Luna Land – Annual Report.’ This is a huge surprise to myself, because this project kept me up till 4am for about 2 weeks straight. It was the reason the poor Shillington teachers had to buy a new box of tissues every day. But at the end of the journey, it came out so well, that I felt such pride in the fact that I had put so much effort into it, and that it was my work.

Any words of wisdom for students about to start their Shillington experience?

Take as many notes as you can, and ask as many questions.

3 months may seem like forever in the moment, but it flies by.

Get as much knowledge out of your teachers as you possibly can – especially the tips and tricks.

Secondly, and most importantly get to know your classmates, and get to know them well. It is such an important part of the experience, and will be the thing that gets you to the finish line. Everyone is on the same rollercoaster, so having a good group of friends in your class that you can lean on, and confidently share your your ideas to will make the whole journey ten times more easier, and a lot more fun!

Anything else you’d like to share?

My number one tip is don’t be afraid to ask. If you want to get a job at a studio or agency, email them and ask them if you can come have a chat. The worst that can happen is that they say no. Communication can get you a long way, if you do it properly.

I Believe at Shillington, what you put in is what you get out. Work hard, be vulnerable, make friends, put in the time and effort, and you will see the rewards at the end (even if the end seems too far away).

Huge thanks to Robyn for sharing her story! Be sure to follow her on Instagram (“feel free to slide into those DM’s, love making new friends”) and YouTube.

Have you read any of our other study abroad series? We’ve spoken with Nick Jacobs who moved from Portland to London, Chrystal Christie who traded Sydney for New York and more

Want to study graphic design abroad? Study at Shillington in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane —>

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