The National Design Academy enjoys catching up with our graduates who have gone on to achieve success since completing an online distance learning course with us. Our student spotlight this month is Nicci Aplin. We had a quick catch up with Nicci to discuss her latest achievements and to talk about her experience of studying with the National Design Academy…
Nicci was the first student to study for our BA (Hons) Design for Outdoor Living Degree starting in 2011. She went on to successfully graduate with a well-deserved first class honours in 2013 despite juggling work commitments and becoming a mum whilst studying online with us. She has since gone on to launch a career in interior and outdoor design.
Hi Nicci, what was it like trying to balance your course with your work and personal commitments?
When I first started studying I was working full time, I left my position in Retail Development to have my little girl and during my maternity I completed my foundation degree. At this point I made the brave decision not to return to work immediately. I took a step back to be a mummy, but the flexible online distance learning with NDA enabled me to also combine this with being able to continue studying for my full BA. I managed to complete my final dissertation for my degree whilst I was also running around after a busy toddler and running my own childcare business, and also worked as a children’s sports coach whilst studying. Being able to study through flexible, online distance learning made juggling my career, personal life and work commitments a lot more manageable.
Wow that sounds hectic, tell us about your dissertation?
It was a natural choice to focus on Playgrounds, as I spent my time in them every day! I completely immersed myself in the world of play. As I set up my own childcare practice, I was required to register and train for my Ofsted Registration and study Early Years Development as part of this process. I observed how the benefits of playgrounds and outdoor play for children enhanced learning, and linked to the early year’s curriculum. At the time, I never really considered that this decision could be a potential career path for me.
What have you done since graduating from the National Design Academy?
After completing my BA (Hons) Design for Outdoor Living degree, I initially spent some time consulting privately and successfully completed two of my own house renovations. I initially wanted to wait until my daughter started school before fully launching my design career, but I stumbled across an opportunity which was too good to miss. Not only did the role match my skills and experience I gained from my degree perfectly, it also combined my chosen field of study.
That sounds like a really great opportunity, what happened next?
I applied for the role with the company, who are called Playforce. They are the UK’s leader in the design and creation of fun, innovative, curriculum-linked play environments for children. I sent across an extract and examples from my dissertation and was invited for an interview immediately!
How did you find the interview process?
I was actually amazed at how confident and at ease I felt in the interview, I think my enthusiasm for the role was evident as they invited me back to the 2nd stage which involved lots of role play and sketching up lots of design ideas.
Did you hear back about the role?
Yes, they offered me the job there and then! I have been here a few months so far, and it’s going really well. They have an amazing team of artworkers who help me bring my designs to life, and also have a dedicated team of product in-house designers. It’s fascinating to work with such an amazing team of people.
Congratulations Nicci, that’s great news. Do you think your online distance learning degree course with NDA helped prepare you for the role?
Being able to work in a role that utilises my skills and interests is very rewarding, especially in one that relates to my degree. Studying with the National Design Academy really helped me gain the skills and confidence I needed to secure the role with Playforce, I was able to continue with work and personal commitments throughout my degree. It would not have been possible, if not for the flexibility and the online distance learning approach that NDA offers.
We wish you the best of luck in your new role Nicci.
If you are interested in studying full or part-time we offer a range of Interior Design courses that can be studied through online distance learning. If you are interest in studying our BA (Hons) Outdoor Living degree course visit the course page, or to see the range of course we offer visit our complete course listings page or alternatively call us to discuss on: 0115 9123 412.