Hi, my name is Canaan Brown. I am a second year BA Art and Design student, and also studied my Foundation in Visual Communication, at the Birmingham School of Art. I highly value and enjoy my art and design practice - creating new projects and work is highly inspiring and motivating for me. To supplement this, the Graduate Plus award has been a great way of ensuring I am on track to pursue my career goals.
The award has been a great opportunity to take action and supplement the skills and experience I have developed during my course and university life so far. For example, writing - which one of my strongest, and favourite, skills - is a practice that I have developed further by attending academic writing workshops, design festivals, and creative writing sessions. The Centre for Academic Success creative writing workshop - during Graduate plus weeks - challenged me to refine my research, and organise my sources, according to the relevance of these sources to my work. Additionally I used software such as Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign to help proof-read and spell-check my work - looking for cases of misspelling, as well as repetition. This really allowed me to iterate my writing further - a great opportunity to ensure my work is as rigorous and focused as it can be. As a result, my most recent research project received an 83 percent grade, which I was super happy with!
The Graduate plus award enabled me to also chart my extra-curricular projects. For example, since the start of the year, I challenged myself to continue learning French using the app Rosetta Stone, which is free through the university, alongside the language-learning app Duolingo. This has resulted in me now being more competent in speaking, reading, and listening to French, as well as now having a 391 day language-learning streak - and I hope to improve and refine my handle on the French language by continuing to use both these language apps.
Additionally, apps such as Blackbullion - an app I started using at the start of my second year - was great for challenging me to think more carefully about how I manage my budget around my studies and social life. Apps such as this, for example, tasked me to create a budget plan early in the year. I therefore used the budget calculator on Blackbullion to quantify how much I should be spending on my food, clothes, bills, and social life, as well as my travel, study materials, and gifts to others. Whilst this was an outline of how much I should be spending based on my income, the app was really helpful for ensuring I stayed self-disciplined for the majority of the year… So that I had more money to spend on the things that I really wanted, and valued, for my life.
Potential.ly, and LinkedIn, were also really interesting platforms, which Graduate plus sessions helped introduce to me. For example, Potenial.ly is a site which is filled with information about careers, professions, and job roles - I found this especially useful during my work placement module in my second semester. I was tasked to find information about my potential career roles, so I could research the skills, attributes, and values, which would be best for the role. I therefore used Potential.ly to research careers as a production designer, a public artist, and careers as an artist and designer. I discovered the general career progressions of people in these role, and the prospective salaries they may have. As a result, I found this really useful and motivating, for affirming my keen interest in working as an artist and design, and the opportunities for this across film, media, and public art.
As well as attending Graduate plus week sessions, events ran by the Student Union such as Welcome Week, and making the most of the Careers plus resources, I have found the Graduate plus process highly beneficial. From the start of my first year, through to now, the Careers plus site has supported me to refine my CV and career role applications. I used feedback from members of the Careers plus team such as Miah Bailey, Nicola Kelly, and Jaime Cox, to refine my CV using more concise and powerful language, and meaningful and clear aesthetics. I feel this has ultimately helped me to get placements working as an Emerging Artist, at Legacy West Midlands, and to build and propel my position as an artist and designer.
I really enjoyed the experience of the Graduate plus award, and I would definitely encourage others to make use of Graduate plus sessions, posted opportunities, and events, where possible. Graduate plus and Careers plus resources led me to sites such as Target Jobs - from which I received the opportunity to apply for the Sky Black Heritage Undergraduate of the Year Award. I used the information and achievements I had outlined in my CV and portfolio, as well as from my Emerging Artist programme, to help explain and share my values, and ethics, and my commitment to practice and positive change. This resulted in me being chosen as a Sky Black Heritage Undergraduate of the Year Award Finalist - which was an achievement I feel really proud of!