Studying and working full-time: an ongoing journey

Submitted by Sofia Vougiatzi, BA(Hons) Graphic Design on Tue, 07/11/2023 - 13:16

Coming up with an opening line for this article was quite challenging. The main thing I knew for certain, was that when my tutor asked for volunteers, I had to be part of it. I thought to myself, people don’t talk enough about making the decision to study at a later age, where responsibilities, work and life create a more challenging environment. Having read articles in the past of people changing careers, or going back to university and eventually becoming successful is great and incredibly optimistic! However there’s never enough information about the obstacles and the challenges faced towards the path of success. We tend to focus on the destination, but the journey is the most beautiful and interesting part. 

From a very young age, I knew I was an artistic soul. When my parents bought me a big artist’s kit for Christmas, I couldn’t stop painting, creating worlds and scenarios from my imagination. As a teenager, I’d take commissions during school hours and draw portraits of fellow students, sometimes even teachers. Everyone in my family and my friendship group knew me as the ‘artsy one’. Everything was certain and seemed crystal clear as to where life and art were taking me.  

However, during my adult years, I never managed to figure out what I really wanted to do with my artistic skills. During the pandemic, I managed to set up a small Etsy shop and work on commissions, which made me incredibly grateful. Despite the fact that I was getting a lot of satisfaction from it, I never managed to make art my full-time career. Something was missing. Something was holding me back. Lack of guidance and lack of confidence. 

I knew this was something I had to face and work on. I needed help, but also felt like I wanted to give myself the gift of education. Growing older helped me realise that I enjoyed problem solving, and communicating with people through art and graphics. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to study Graphic Design.

But how would I find the time? I currently work full time as a Junior Printer and Designer Technician at a Printing studio in London. Even though this job is perfectly suitable for implementing my university course skills, it’s also quite tiring.

But when I discovered the flexible distance learning model of Arden University, I knew I had to take this opportunity! Yes, working during the day and studying during the evening was going to be a massive challenge, but it is possible and achievable, so I signed up! 

Now, I wish I could tell you that I manage my time perfectly, I go to bed on time and I have a healthy and fit routine, but that simply wouldn’t be true. There are days where I have to stay up late, get my assessment done for the weekly lessons feedback, go to bed for less than five hours and go to work. There are also weekends when I have to do all the household chores like washing, deep cleaning, and then sit down and study. There are also times when I have to miss evenings out with friends.  

Initially, it was all very new and unpleasant to me - until I realised how all the learning material and my tutors’ feedback were changing my perspective. A new world was introduced to me. I found myself being able to implement new skills at work and even planning my future career possibilities. I started making very interesting conversation with people and admiring art in a very different way when visiting a museum or gallery. 

Apart from feeling more confident about me and my career, I have also discovered new ways to get inspired and create art and graphics! I’m currently aiming towards being able to work remotely. This way I can focus on my studies and eventually design and create even more!  Thank you Arden, for making this possible! 

P.S. Little tips that have helped me so far: 

  • Write on a colourful sheet of paper what your final goal is and place it somewhere where you can see it every day! 
  • Organise your studying and do bit by bit every day. Do not leave everything for last minute.  
  • Have at least one day a week where you switch off completely and do things for you and only you. 
  • Always carry a book or a sketchbook with you on your way and back from work - it’s a great way to get into the ‘studying mood’ before you sit at your desk to actually get started!
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