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Ushmi takes on Melbourne to expand her design career

RMIT sets students apart by making industry connections part of the curriculum.

For those of us who pursue art, it is not just a career or a hobby, but a passion, a way of life. We all see the world differently, and when I take a moment to look around me, my mind starts to buzz with ideas about my material surroundings.

When I think of my future, I always imagine being connected to the design community and a world of creative talent and imagination where anything is truly possible. 

My journey into design

To embark on a journey in design is to follow a path that is never ending. You will never know all there is to know or master everything there is to learn. Ten years down that path you will still find yourself getting excited and inspired by the most ordinary things, questioning the media that we are exposed to, whether it be the design of a book cover, a window display, logo on a visiting card or even the shapes and lines of a shoe.

Surrounded by inspiration in Melbourne

There is no ‘right or wrong’ in design and it can be translated and expressed in a million different ways to bring people together. And this is exactly how Melbourne made me feel when I first visited as a tourist. I found my new home. There are bits of art in its architecture, sculptures and down every street. Melbourne just really wraps you in its arms and embraces you. The art and design culture, diversity and beautiful people had me at first sight.

Striving to study at RMIT

The hunger of knowing and learning led me to wander around universities in Melbourne. RMIT was one of the universities that captivated me. Its designed study spaces, artsy hallways, scattered spaces throughout the city making itself a part of Melbourne was wonderful.  I never thought a city you have barely lived in, could grow so many feelings and desires in you. That’s when I knew I had to come back to Melbourne. After returning to Mumbai, I did my Bachelor’s in Communication Design to give me the best chance of being able to study my master’s at RMIT.

Working hard

I worked hard to get good grades, but was still afraid that it was going to be difficult for me to get accepted to universities, so I gained more work experience before applying. I worked at various design studios and start-ups, travelled to Greece and worked as a designer for three months. These five years were not easy, but having a goal and working towards it made me give my 100%.

Getting support from IDP

I visited the IDP office and was allotted a counsellor, Dhiraj. When I told him about my gap year; instead of saying that it wasn’t possible, he said, ‘Let’s get you in.’ IDP holds conferences where you can meet people from universities, find out more about courses, and show them your portfolio. Dhiraj advised me to go to these events and they were really helpful.

Because IDP is a free service, there is a trust formed between you and your counsellor. Dhiraj was an absolute sweetheart and helped me with all complicated paperwork like getting my visa to study in Australia. It was great having help from someone so patient and there with you for every step.

Arriving in Melbourne

The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Melbourne. It was scary and over-whelming when I first got here. New faces, new streets, different food, found myself lost for a moment but then I thought to myself, coming here was my dream, I am here. What am I afraid of?

I realised I was afraid of the change after stepping out of my comfort zone. I started making an effort to go out and socialise instead of staying in my room. Enrolling in events at uni, exploring new streets and alleys, saying hello to strangers – I tried all these things to help me feel less alone. And it worked. In no time, I had my own group of friends, knew more places than when I got here. Then I started my classes, I realised how happy I was with my decision to come here. The curriculum was different (and difficult!) but there was so much to learn and that’s what excited me.

I love my professors because they take the time to help you and because the class sizes are small it means that everyone can get the one-on-one support when needed. On top of that, RMIT has great working spaces. I probably spend more time at RMIT than I do at home because my class has our own private space.

Gaining industry experience

For me, it was really important to gain industry experience while studying so I volunteered as the design manager at Oaktree. It was great to get the hands-on experience, and this allowed me to gain exposure and new clients for my freelance design work.

Doing group work

Studying and working in Melbourne made me realise how important team work is. You get to learn so much while working with different set of people. My biggest lesson learned was to share, learn and create. In my class, everyone was willing to help each other out and it makes everyone’s work better. I enjoy group work because we get to work with real clients such as Ernst & Young and AusPost. Actually, my favourite memory of the course so far was having my group’s work selected to present in front of AusPost.

Keeping to yourself doesn’t help you grow. But when you share ideas with your friends or colleagues, something better is created.

What’s next?

So, here I am. Graduated, with a full-time job and amazing friends. Is this it? Melbourne has become a part of me and that can never change. I still want to travel, explore more countries and see what is there to learn. I would like to have my own design studio in Mumbai or any place in the world but one step at a time. For now, I want to gain as much knowledge and work experience, I can get to move forward in my life.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. I believe, if you truly want to study overseas and strive hard for it, you will achieve it. 

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