Live projects, real clients and industry contacts

The benefits of a work placement

Claire Pinkney is studying the BSc (Hons) Lighting Design and Technology, and currently on placement with Aurora Lighting. She reveals how she ended up studying a subject she is passionate about, the benefits of completing a work placement, and provides her first-hand advice for anyone else considering this course.

“As far back as I can remember, going to the theatre and finding myself in awe of the lighting design for several shows and musicals sparked my interest in lighting. I never thought I would be able to study it at university until friends and family suggested it, and I'm glad they did.

“The University of South Wales is local to me so the idea of saving a bit of money and staying at home helped my decision to apply. Also, the stories I heard of past students going into successful careers straight after graduation made me realise that this university makes the years spent studying worthwhile.

“For my first year of university, I was on a course studying sound, lighting and live event technology, which was a two-year Foundation degree course that ran in parallel with the lighting design and technology course. After successfully completing the first year, Senior Lecturer, Stuart Green, got in touch with me during the summer holidays and asked if I wanted to transfer onto the second year of BSc (Hons) Lighting Design and Technology instead. I couldn't turn it down, as I favoured lighting over sound and live events.

“Access to the lighting and live event labs has been so helpful. A lot of the course is hands-on, so having access to these in our spare time has helped with those dreaded deadlines. The new 24-hour library that opened at the beginning of my second year helped with meeting deadlines too!

“Even though the course is very hands-on anyway, the work placement is an added bonus. In university, you can’t quite get the same experience of live projects and client interaction. However, on placement, you're able to get your work out there and create contacts in the industry for when you graduate.

“Aurora Lighting is a manufacturing company with a lighting design department. I’m part of a small team that designs lighting schemes for various architectural applications around the world. Thanks to the success of a previous student work placement, we’ve been working on houses in South Africa – I'm working on my fourth one at the moment. There are also opportunities to use industry equipment, such as a photometer and test/measure fittings, which I’ll be doing some training on soon.

“I see my course as a full-time job and I'm at university to learn. I hope to take advantage of all the opportunities I'll get from having a degree at the end of my time here. However, there’s some nice perks to student life, such as getting discount in places thanks to my student card!

“I’ll be continuing with my work placement until the summer, at which point I’ll return to complete my final year of university. I hope to achieve the best possible grade I can, which will help me pursue my goal. I hope to one day be recognised for lighting design within the residential or commercial lighting industry. Since joining the course and studying modules such as ‘Environmental Lighting Design’ my eyes have been opened to this side of the lighting industry.  

“My advice to anyone who is considering studying lighting design and technology at the University of South Wales, is to just go for it. If you have a passion, whether it's for live events, theatre, or architecture, this course will cover it. I was stuck in a retail job, not knowing where I was heading for nearly six years and never imagined I'd be in the position I am now. Since joining the University of South Wales and having the opportunity to move courses so I could focus on the one thing I was passionate about, I haven't regretted it. Just prepare for the hard work, the long hours and opportunities – it'll be worth it.”