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You’re finally leaving your childhood behind you, choosing your own career path as a designer and preparing to take the world by storm with your unique creative talent. Before you set off to your first student party, remember, it’s a tough world out there and the competition is extraordinarily fierce. If you want to become the next great South African designer, you need to take a few things into consideration.

Lecturer for Interior Design at the Design School of Southern Africa (DSSA), a division of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), Nicole Mason, did her MBA on exactly what it takes to be the perfect design student – those she refers to as ‘unicorns and mermaids’.  The qualities she highlights are those found in students who are likely to thrive and succeed, both as students and professionals.

Mason explains that, while artistic divas bent on creating something purely aesthetic get to prance about having ‘notions’ and working according to their own erratic timescales, designers are bound by timeframes and briefs, and their designs have to function according to an intended purpose. This means that designers have to be deeply creative as well as highly structured, logical and disciplined – and able to shift easily from one mode to the other as they work.

This explains why the underprepared design student often finds themselves falling behind the pack. The shift from high school to tertiary study can be a shock; there will be no teachers peering over their shoulders to check that they’re on track and no leniency for late submissions because they left their projects to the last minute. They will have to stay on top of all their subjects and assignments, some of which may be due at similar times, all while formulating interesting, thoughtful insights about their studies, the world, current affairs and society.

For those who choose to travel down this exciting but demanding path, choosing the right institution is a major aspect of their career development. Nicky Stanley, Head of Marketing at DSSA, explains why so many successful designers have come from their highly evolved programmes. “Classes at DSSA are small,” she says. “This means that our lecturers, all of whom are heavyweights in their field, get to know each student personally, helping them to find and develop their strengths and to overcome their weaknesses.

“Under The Institute of Independent Education (The IIE), we offer our students qualifications that are internationally accredited by the British Accreditation Council (BAC), while allowing our lecturers the freedom to use more innovative and forward-thinking teaching methods. This means we have been able to create an environment that truly challenges our students in theoretical knowledge, technical ability and real-world experience, all of which are essential if students are to develop towards their highest potential and be prepared for the rigours of professional life.”

Stanley goes on to describe how DSSA acts as a platform from which students can showcase their talents. “Each year the best work is chosen for entry into both national and international awards and competitions, giving students the opportunity to create a name for themselves before they’ve even graduated,” she says. “On leaving DSSA, our students know who they are, what they stand for and where it is they want to be. And they have the confidence and skills to get there.”

For school leavers looking for a career in fashion, graphic or interior design who possess the tenacity, ambition and discipline required to succeed, registration is now open at DSSA where an extraordinary career journey awaits them.

For more information visit www.designschoolsa.co.za

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