April 23, 2023 Ellen Bell

Rachel Burke

Class of 2021 

Before IM: I actually studied a foundation degree in interactive multimedia design at Belfast Met.

After IM: I work in a very successful and talented agency called MXB, as a Digital Designer.

Contact me:

My Interactive Media course

Before IM

Prior to starting a whole new journey with UUC, I actually studied a foundation degree in interactive multimedia design at Belfast Met. To be honest, I kind of fell into it. I excelled at ICT & Art at school and stumbled across this foundation degree, which eventually lead me to the bachelors in IM.

I did achieve 3 A-Levels, however I didn’t quite get enough for the IM degree at the time. This alternative route not only added another degree to my belt, but it introduced me to the world of interactive media; a world that I didn’t even know existed never mind thinking that I could actually pursue a career in it.

To be honest with you, I thought I had no hope when I found out I didn’t quite meet the criteria, however it just goes to show that not everyone has the same path.. follow your own.

Final Year

As unusual as it may sound, I throughly enjoyed final year. It was a tough for sure. The first university year to experience Covid-19 and figuring out how to navigate a learning from home lockdown, made things a little bit tricker, but it didn’t make it any less enjoyable.

The Creativity, Innovation and Enterprise, and Interactive Media Inquiry modules were a strong favourite. I throughly enjoyed researching my own topics of interest and gathering both qualitative and quantitative data in order to design and create a data visualisation poster to showcase all my findings as well as designing an App to support young adolescents suffering from Acne. These modules pushed me out of my comfort zone and really challenged me.

Not to forget the Social Enterprise module. Working together with 2 extremely talented fellow classmates was a great experience. We were creatively free to design and curate an entire brand identity for a social enterprise partner, alongside a fully functional web presence. We put all the skills and knowledge we had developed to date, from both lectures and placement, into practice. I believe placement year gave us all the confidence to excel in this module, rewarding us with the Science Shop Digital Award.

Get as much experience as you can.

Thanks to the IM course, I was lucky to work at such a cool, creative and relaxed agency for my placement year.

No79 Design Agency was based on the beautiful North Coast of Ireland. I put all my skills to the test, applying what I had learnt and practiced, into PROPER projects for ACTUAL clients. Scary I know, but all the little failures and setbacks I encountered, only helped me down the line. Working with clients was great. Managing and organising projects, giving my professional opinion and direction on things was something I took to very well. And also, seeing my work come to life was low-key awesome.

I was in charge of pretty much all of the branding. I have created countless of brands that are knocking about the NC to this day! I also designed for various print and digital materials such as van wraps, billboards, social media posts, business cards, flyers and menus. I got to work on some animation and video editing which was never my strong point, but I developed that skill non the less. Looking back, I remember how trash my first web design was, and how I’ve come on leaps and bounds since then.

Placement year was the year I really felt that I could make a career out of this. It was the year I gave my all, I asked all the stupid questions and failed until I knew how. I can’t emphasise how beneficial this year was for me, setting me up nicely for the world of work after graduation.

Let’s wrap up with some nice memories

The IM course was certainly the course for me. The lectures provided an immense amount of knowledge over an array of insightful modules. The amount of high spec tech that was offered to us was outstanding. It was the first thing I was blown away by, even before starting. The entire space that we had to ourselves as a course was jaw dropping. The lecturers really did go above and beyond to get us the best resources out there, including adobe professionals for certain training. The amount of passion from all 3 lectures was infectious and this really inspired me to work hard and remain determined.

Looking back, the lectures and the people on the IM course really made my uni experience a one to remember. There was multiple occasions where I had one to one chats with them, not only about the course, but about life. A specific memory comes to mind actually. In first year, I was having a bit of a crisis about what I wanted to do and if it was the right course for me. Adrian Hickey offered a helping hand, and we chatted for ages about where it all started for him. This conversation shifted my perspective massively and really reassured me. I was so grateful to him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to just listen and offer some of his life advice.

I’ve met some incredibly talented people from the IM course, people who I remain close friends with. We collaborate and help each other out to this day. As for the lectures, I still remain in contact with them and continue to have that support.

After IM

Currently, I work in a very successful and talented agency called MXB, situated on the Lisburn Road, Belfast, as a Digital Designer. I have met so many amazing individuals here whom I’ve learnt so much from. I genuinely am so grateful to be surrounded by forward thinking, intelligent and supportive people.

MXB have also provided me with an opportunity to pursue further learning, supporting me through a diploma in UX Design, in which I will eventually specialise.

I first discovered UX and UI design in year 2 of IM and then developed upon this in placement year, where I first began designing for the web. And since then, my love for it has grown. This is the field of work I see myself settling into, in the future.