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Daisybutter - UK Style and Fashion Blog: my university experience, university in england, writing fashion and culture, southampton solent university
My University/college experience and thoughts on studying BA (Hons) Writing Fashion and Culture at Southampton Solent University.

When I sat down at my laptop this weekend and pondered a wordy topic to write about for the week, my thoughts immediately fluttered over to the whole University and further education subject. I'm asked very often about what I studied at Uni, what I do now, how I built up my work experience and about my experiences at Uni in general. With my sister applying for a degree in architecture and another influx of questions in my emails, here's my small rundown of it all in the hope it helps at least one person with their decision...

My Experience at Uni
I studied BA (Hons) Writing Fashion and Culture at Southampton Solent University. It's one of those infamously dubbed 'Mickey Mouse' courses and, yes, we're pretty far down the whole ranks system. It's a 3-year degree with no set work experience placements, offering a mixture of practical, academic and group work. I applied for my own (unpaid) work experience and internships during holidays from University, attended 99.9% of my lectures and seminars, and finally graduated in November 2012 with a First Class Honours degree.

The course itself appealed to me because of its diversity: if you're considering studying the course, it's worth noting that it isn't solely a fashion journalism course. During my time there (between 2009-2012) I gained experience in news journalism, writing for digital multimedia, art history, the history of costume, fashion PR, visual merchandising for retail stores, styling for editorial and body shapes, fashion photography, media law, social media writing, freelancing in fashion, buying and forecasting, magazine production and design, and much more.

I'll talk a bit later about why I started my blog, but the course wasn't to my expectations for the first 3 months! Outside of the course, Southampton was an amazing place to discover a city, grow into myself as a person, venture anew and meet new people. The nightlife is seriously diverse - even if you're not a bars and clubs person, there are amazing music venues, comedy clubs, museums and more to enjoy. If you have a car, the Newforest is nearby, as are bowling venues, paintballing destinations, kids zones that allow alcohol (another story for another day…!) and cinemas galore. In the same vein, you WILL make friends who don't like going out. Southampton Solent as a Uni has some great clubs and societies, an average Student Union, an on campus Costa - sealed the deal for me - a well-equipped gym, and pretty decent library facilities too.

Personally I spent my Freshers year attempting to go to every bar/club/etc. in the city - and succeeding! I also went to one of the course trips to Paris and indulged in my first ever Paris Fashion Week experience. My second and third years were spent cuddling up with my kitten, attending one or two blog events in London a week, but also learning hands-on about the industry through my blog and applying it to my work which made a huge difference. I then also met the lovely Corrie who juggled the same things, and overall, University summed up some of the best years of my life.

My advice to you? Make the most of your Fresher freedom, but also get your head down and hunt down your own passion on your course of course.

University and My Blog
I created Daisybutter almost immediately after moving to University. Aside from Fashiontoast, Sea of Shoes, Style Scrapbook and Fashion Pirate, I hadn't personally read many British fashion blogs. Zoe, Lindy and Fleur were some of the first British bloggers I discovered and their girl-next-door, University student approach to documenting day-to-day life really inspired me.

I mentioned earlier that my degree wasn't what I'd expected at first. I began regularly blogging here in January 2010 to chronicle style and fashion related things that I didn't have the chance to at Uni. Fashion blogs and online media just weren't discussed, and at the time, I was studying news journalism, the history of costume and a multimedia writing module. Having the freedom to write about Christopher Bailey's triumphant return to London at LFW, chat to bloggers including Zoe and Milly on Twitter, and find a hidden community pretty much restored my faith in my degree!

My blog has been the one constant as I progressed through my degree and eventually graduated and entered the working world. Now that I look back, it slipped perfectly into my routine because I made it. I started receiving invitations to blog events and press days, which I loosely realised would help me understand more about the fashion industry. Lily invited me as her plus one to the LOOK Show, and from there, I began attending events once a month, once a fortnight, and then once a week. Pretty much as the blogging world grew, my blog grew, and finally, we had to blog at University! It goes to show just how quickly the two worlds develop and become important!

Assessments
Assignments and projects on the BA (Hons) Writing Fashion and Culture course are quite varied. For me, over the 3 years I submitted news features, topical features, columns, fashion features, business reports, budget plans, short and extended essays, pitches, visual portfolios, written portfolios, mood boards, scrapbooks, a magazine (and so Aesthetic was born!), a blog, a document analysing blogs… and a 10,000 word dissertation.

Alongside that, the degree also requires plenty of group work and presentations. They're tough but not as hard as you'd expect. And that's coming from a girl who often freezes when more than 2 people look at her.

Deadlines on the WFC course fall at the end of each semester which makes things simple and difficult at the same time. I found it incredibly easy to space my time out and plan the workload for my assignments by checking deadlines against timetables and pencilling in dedicated 'work' sessions.

Getting Work Experience
Unlike a lot of degrees nowadays, Writing Fashion and Culture isn't a sandwich course. Sandwich courses or degrees include a year of non-optional work experience in their chosen industry and is a great way to pad out your CV.

The lecturers for my course were all in the industry or had once been in it, hence their expertise and group of contacts. Already studying WFC? Pop in and ask for advice or an email address! I've always been told to contact the Commissioning Editor or an Assistant about intern positions and work experience openings. Today it's even worth Tweeting them firsthand. I gained experience at titles and companies including more!, InStyle, IFB, Grazia, Eyeko, Style It Light and Style Sample, amongst others. Throughout my time at Uni, I undertook a total of 6 placements, and an extra 2 before landing my first grad job last summer.

After University
As I mentioned, in total I interned for 8 companies across the fashion editorial, fashion magazine, social media, marketing, beauty PR and retail fields before getting a job. My first job was a freelance position, where I realised that freelancing was a very enviable position to be in. I now freelance for a number of clients in editorial, copywriting and social media consultancy, with a primary client whom I freelance for in-house everyday.

Daisybutter now takes somewhat of a backseat while I pursue my writing career, although it has honestly grown beyond my wildest expectations and continues to be something I'm very proud and protective of. Currently I'm continuing to freelance across three fields, growing Aesthetic and pushing my blog forward. My advice for third years and graduands/graduates? Be prepared to work extremely hard and pursue the avenues that you love, even when it gets hard. :)

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I hope this has proved somewhat useful to those of you looking at applying for BA (Hons) WFC. For more information, you can always visit the site or read the course blog - fun fact: it was once edited by my flatmate! - or please always feel free to pop me an email or Tweet! x

21 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this, I love hearing about other peoples' uni experiences and about placements/internships, I really think they are key!

    Maria xxx

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    1. Thanks Maria! I know not it isn't everyone's cup of tea but I thought it'd be interesting to share my experience and thoughts! I always enjoy reading about others' experiences too!

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  2. this was such a helpful/informative post michelle... i'm not doing a degree related to media/fashion/culture but i found this post really interesting!
    p.s. good luck to your lil sis with architecture in uni! :)

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    1. Thanks Kylie! I just wanted to share my experiences really as I think a lot of people don't quite 'get' what studying fashion journalism can be like, and also to give a realistic impression of how Uni can feel like an uphill struggle at first. I shall pass the message on ;) x

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  3. Having finished my 3 years in Southampton on the same course in 2011, I've found that although the course seemed a bit unstructured at times, and very unsupportive in helping with experience in the workplace, it has in fact benefited me when it comes to work. I sourced my own work placements like yourself in Fashion PR and with Fashion Magazines.

    I'm not in the fashion industry, as I hoped as a naive 18 year old starting the course. However, that doesn't at all bother me. The fact WFC combined a number of different modules - photography, magazine design, PR, writing, web design etc has given me a strong skill set and a broad spectrum for the workplace. I've managed to secure myself two jobs in the marketing industry, marketing two completely different products, and the fact that I knew how to use Adobe software like Photoshop and Indesign REALLY impressed my employers.I have been rewarded financially for this also. A lot of classic marketing professionals I know, understand the ins and outs of marketing/PR/Social media to the T, but couldn't design up marketing material for print/online using Adobe software if they tried! (Not the case with ALL Marketing grads/professionals, but most.)

    I completely believe that the diversity of WFC has helped me achieve the roles I've had to far, and has even put me ahead of other candidates with strong Marketing experience, with marketing degrees!

    Sorry for the long comment! I hope you enjoyed your time at Solent - I miss it every day!

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    1. I definitely agree with you on the unstructured front! I did think the course/lecturers helped me with gaining experience, but only more so once they realised my blog (this is kinda cringey) was beginning to do well. They don't make it clear to prospective students that you have to find your own placements!

      I'm currently freelancing in fashion retail marketing as well as editorial, so I see what you mean. I guess studying so many aspects of the industry meant that I assumed other similar graduates held the same skills which hasn't been the case at all! I definitely agree the Indesign, Photoshop, etc. skills have bumped up our degree value. I miss it everyday too!

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  4. Even though I am not striving to have a career in the fashion/journalism field, I blummin' loved this post and it made me miss university so much. I didn't go to a red brick uni either (the uni only opened a couple of years before I started so it hasn't got off the ground yet), but I totally believe that you can succeed from any university as long as you work to the best (and more) of your ability. It doesn't matter where you went, it's your determination which will take you the rest of the way. Massively cheesy comment- over. xxx

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    1. Thanks Amy!

      I felt so nostalgic for Uni when writing this post. Solent is definitely not a red brick Uni :P but it's definitely more about your work ethic, the transferable skills you pick up and your sheer determination at the moment. I honestly feel that, disorganised as Uni and my degree were at times, the overall experience and skillset I built helped me to get where I am now. x

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  5. The course doesn't really 'interest' me - I'm currently studying Wildlife and Media... But it's great to get such good information and insight to other courses and experiences!

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    1. I always enjoy reading about others' experiences! I just get a LOT of emails from prospective students and my blog readers about my degree and figured this would be useful to them. (:

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  6. Such a lovely post! I started Writing Fashion and Culture in September and am really enjoying it so far. The course is so interesting and covers such a variety of topics.

    Emma x
    http://beautyandrags.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Emma! Glad you're enjoying the course! x

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  7. Hi Michelle, I work at Southampton Solent University as Digital PR Officer and came across your blog post during social media monitoring. This is a fab post and a really nice positive testimonial for the uni and particularly BA (Hons) Writing Fashion and Culture. Would you mind if I forwarded this onto the lecturers of the course? as it's a great example of graduate success, and a nice write up of a real experience of the course :-) Thanks Vicky

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    1. Hi Vicky - yep, more than happy for you to. :)

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    2. Fab, thanks Michelle, will post on our social channels too :-) best of luck with life after Solent, it's great to hear about all the cool things our grads are up to!

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  8. This post was super helpful, I'm currently in my second year of writing fashion and culture and although I love the diversity I often feel a little bit lost. It's super nice to hear from someone who has already completed the course! xx

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    1. Glad you found it useful Faye! I felt the same in my second year but everything cemented itself in the latter half of the year and through third year. Always an email away if you need some advice or a helping hand!

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  9. This is a really great post, I love reading about other people's time at University & what people have done since graduating - especially as I am in my final year!

    This was a lovely read on a Friday night :) Thanks

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    1. Thanks so much Caitlin, glad you enjoyed reading it. I often wish I'd read similar posts before or during Uni - in hindsight I was such a naive student!

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  10. I applied for your course at Solent but ended up going to a different uni (and subsequently leaving anyway). This was a really interesting read, I'm quite nosey like that! x

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    1. Ah really? I think it's quite a tough one to work out at Uni, it's pretty intense if you're unsure about the industry. Thanks Fern, glad you enjoyed it!

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