Sam Clay, from Birmingham, is studying Lighting Design and Technology degree at USW.
Last year, Sam completed a paid internship at Ideaworks which resulted in a job offer and sponsorship for his final year.
Why did you chose a lighting degree?
USW’s lighting design course stood out because of the range of topics it covered. While others focussed on theatre design or console programming, USW’s course covered a wide range of areas from theatre to TV and architectural lighting, allowing students to find their own path. Even within my year group, this has been hugely beneficial as we have guys going into all of these areas and more.
Why did you want to do your placement here?
Ideaworks specialise in architectural lighting for the super prime residential and marine markets - big houses and even bigger yachts, basically! I knew I was interested in a career in this area, and needed to gain more experience.
What did you do on placement?
My day-to-day role was mainly designing and updating the drawings we produce to make the lighting system in a property. This involved creating CAD drawings and Excel sheets to keep meticulous track of every fitting on each project. I was also lucky enough to spend two weeks in Barcelona working on the entertainment system of one of the largest yachts in the world.
Were you given your own project?
As the year went on I was trusted with larger projects, culminating in the design of the wiring and PSU hub systems for a seven-storey London townhouse - very proud of that one.
What new skills did you learn?
My CAD skills came on leaps and bounds. We had modules on basic CAD in the first year but using it as a professional tool to create drawings that are seen by clients and contractors puts a whole different spin on it. My technical knowledge increased massively, particularly in architectural lighting. Also, people skills - how best to deal with stressful situations or convey your thoughts clearly while being pulled in different directions was a great thing to learn.
How will this placement help you?
I left the placement year with a job offer, which I obviously accepted very quickly! They are also sponsoring me through my final year which is a massive help and allows me to focus on getting my work done without worrying about money. I’ve returned to Uni with a much stronger work ethic and a burning desire to really smash my third year.
Advice to others?
I came to Uni knowing the placement year was an option but sure I wouldn’t do one. I wanted to arrive, do my three years and get out there and work, but having that year under my belt has by far been my proudest achievement at Uni so far.