Wondering what to do next year?

It can be difficult to know whether to get an internship, go on a gap year, or apply for further education, especially amongst trying to complete your BA at the same time. To help you decide whether a Masters might be for you, we spoke with students  from Edinburgh College of Art, who are ready to take the plunge. 

Hopefully you won't still be sitting on the fence after this, as Max Wells Gray and James Reeves give you the lowdown on deciding and then applying for Masters degrees...


Hiya! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Firstly, how did you find your BA experience?

It has been very fun, stressful, expensive and rewarding. At ECA we have fantastic tutors and small year groups so we have a lot of contact time. It has been a great place to develop my work in a way in which I like - Max 

Varied and experimental, Edinburgh has given me a deeper knowledge of what I like, and what I don’t. It has also given me a taste for my areas of interest for further development and progression. - James

What made you decide to do an MA?

During my final year I decided that I still had ideas I wanted to explore and push work I am currently doing further. An MA will allow me to do this and help me gain both stronger ability and a better idea of what area of design I want to go into. Studying in Edinburgh has been a lot of fun and the course is great, however it is far away and quiet, so studying in London will be completely different and hopefully make it easier to integrate into the industry - Max

It was Westminster particularly that appealed to me. I hadn’t decided to do an MA and apply for them all, I had decided I wanted to do the Menswear MA at Westminster, whether I did that now, or in a few years, if I was doing an MA then that was the one I was interested in. And also after going to the open day and seeing the space and meeting staff and current students, it felt like the right place for me. I think open days are really important. - James

Did you consider any other options?

Doing an MA wasn’t the only option for me right after graduation, it was more of an aspirational option. Although saying that I hadn’t quite figured out what the other options would have been but I think whatever happened I would have continued developing work and working on commissions of my own accord, perhaps staying on in Edinburgh for a little longer - James

I considered fashion buying and did a summer internship in this area to help decide. It was great but I felt it wasn’t quite as creative as design- Max

What do you think the benefits of studying for an MA are?

 I think it is a great opportunity to meet people working not just in the fashion industry but also many more, it gives you time to strengthen and sharpen your portfolio or work - Max

I think, especially with a two year course with a summative first year, that taking a step back from the pressure of producing a graduate collection (that you want to somehow show everything you have learnt during your degree) and being able to use those skills to explore ideas in a more loose and relaxed way. I guess not having to worry so much about getting it ‘wrong’. Also with Westminster the opportunities for industry connection and industry briefs, support with internships between first and second year - James

 What are you most looking forward to?

The southern weather! Also having the opportunity to develop my work and have access to amazing facilities - Max

I think I’m most looking forward to the tailoring project in first year. I self taught some tailoring techniques for my BA collection but I’m really excited to learn the process in more detail to be able to apply that to my design practice - James  

Can you please give one piece of advice, to a soon-to-be graduate that isn’t sure which steps to take next?

If you're not sure what area to go into, intern, and get work experience in different areas. Don’t just do a design internship because you're studying design, it’s a huge industry. I think an MA is something you should only do if you are sure. It could be a very expensive mistake to make. If you are sure you want to do a MA research early because you won't have much time in your final year. Go for a place you feel comfortable in and you think will help push your work. Getting your portfolio together early will help massively and help push your final year work. In your interview don’t be cocky, however even if you're not sure about your work act like you love it and it’s going in the direction you want – save uncertainty for tutorials - Max 

I guess don’t rush into it, if think you want to do an MA, go to open days, talk to current students, do research (I think I read the course overview about 20 times). Every MA is different, especially the main London ones, one might be really right for you and another completely not. But also just wait and see what happens, you don’t have to do an MA straight after your degree. Go to Madagascar! - James


Interview by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins