Placement has led to a job and sponsorship of my final year

Harrison Coates, Lighting Design and Technology student

Harrison Coates, from Minster-on-Sea in Kent attended Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School before coming to USW to study the BSc (Hons) Lighting Design and Technology.

Harrison recently completed a year-long paid placement at Ideaworks, a high-end home integration company, working as a Design Assistant. As a result, Harrison has been offered a job with the company, and they are sponsoring his final year at University.

How it began
I first got interested in lighting whilst at school, I volunteered to do the technical for all shows and concerts that the school did, spending many of my evenings and weekends in school working on productions. I had previously seen shows and concerts in London and been fascinated by the lighting and the effect it could have on the audience.

Why did you choose to do a placement?
I wanted to apply what I had learnt in my first two years of University, as well as learn new skills to make me more employable after graduation. Nowadays experience is everything when applying for a job. I chose Ideaworks because the University already had links with the company and they are a very technical company, which I liked. 

Describe what you did on placement
My main role was to produce technical lighting designs and multi-room audio and video networks for the residential sector. Ideaworks specialise in bespoke systems, so each day was different to the next, which kept it exciting! I worked on high-end residential and superyacht projects worldwide for the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population. The majority of projects were based in London but I also worked on projects based in Scotland, Moscow, Monaco and Italy. I felt like a valuable member of the team and I loved putting my technical skills to the test.

What were the highlights?
The highlight was visiting sites that I had designed and produced the drawings for and assisting with the installation. Going in to multi-million pound houses in London was exciting and gave me a great sense of achievement. I also received a performance bonus from the company because they were so happy with my progress throughout the year. This gave me a huge confidence boost!

What new skills and knowledge did you gain? 
Having never had a job in a company of that size before it was great to build up my personal and communication skills. Communicating with contractors, manufacturers and clients boosted my professionalism and I quickly learnt how to handle different situations. I greatly developed both my technical skills and design skills, as well as my working knowledge of different equipment.

How do you feel about going back to University after the placement?
I am looking forward to returning to complete my degree and feel much more confident in my final year with all the skills I have gained from my placement. My work ethic has improved greatly and I have a much better sense of time management.