Level 4 Advanced Techniques in Media and Semi-Permanent Make-Up
Craig studies Advanced Techniques in Media and Semi-Permanent Make-up at Newcastle College University Centre. He Stepped Up to a degree after studying at Newcastle College. Find out what he has to say about his time learning with us.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, etc.?
I’ve been at Newcastle College for the last three years, since I started here on a Level 2 Hairdressing course. I currently work in a hair salon in Wideopen alongside my studies at the University Centre. I wasn’t going to do a degree at first, but when I finished my Level 3 course, one of my tutors offered me the opportunity, so I decided to give it a go, and I don’t regret it – I’ve really enjoyed the degree course so far!
Why did you choose to step up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?
Since I’d already studied Hairdressing at Newcastle College, I knew all the tutors really well, and they knew me. Everyone on my course gets on really well, and our tutors and lecturers are all really friendly, so that was obviously quite helpful when I was deciding whether I wanted to study a degree course, because I know that transition from college life to university life can be awkward sometimes. I didn’t think I’d get the same support if I’d decided to study somewhere else.
What was it about this course that made you want to progress onto a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?
The chance to specialise in professional make-up practices. I already had an interest in make-up since I’d self-taught myself how to apply it a year ago, so I decided that I wanted to develop those skills as I progressed into my degree course. It’s rare to find a course as specialised, but also offering such a range of skills and knowledge, as the one the University Centre provided, so I chose to stay on.
What benefits do you think there are in choosing to stay on to study at Newcastle College University Centre?
Obviously, having a degree doesn’t hurt your employment prospects! The jobs market is really competitive now, so having the extra skills and knowledge that comes from my degree course has really helped me personally. It’s also great to be learning from people who are experienced in the industry and build the skills I need to succeed in my career.
What are the facilities like at the University Centre for your course and as a student?
For the course, they’re actually quite good! For starters, we of course have industry-standard hairdressing stations and make-up studios in the Retreat and around the Lifestyle Building, and they come fully equipped with tools, make-up, brushes, and other useful items. The student finance provision means we can purchase our own materials if we want them, but if there’s anything more expensive that we need, our tutors will go out and order it in. There are also useful student sites, like our library on campus, which is a great resource. We’ve also got access to degree student-exclusive areas to work or relax, like the tenth floor of the Parsons Building or the HE Hub, which is a nice improvement from when I was at college here.
What do you enjoy the most about your degree?
Probably microblading, which is a kind of semi-permanent tattoo you use to enhance your eyebrows. It wasn’t something I’d done before, and I hadn’t had the opportunity to use that kind of equipment at Level 2 or Level 3, so it’s been a very interesting step up in content for the degree course.
What inspires you?
In general, I would say social media above other sources. I know that’s pretty broad, and it applies to a lot of different areas, but for Hair and Beauty specifically, there are obviously a lot of social media personalities, vloggers and influencers who use platforms like Instagram or TikTok to promote their brands. So when I’ve followed certain profiles or channels on social media, and seen the kinds of creative work they’ve been doing in hairdressing or make-up applications, I get inspired to build my own skills so I can perform the techniques they’re talking about online.
Tell us about how you have worked with industry whilst studying your degree (i.e. talks / live briefs / projects).
At the moment, I’m mainly doing assignment work. We’ve got an end-of-year show coming up soon, so I’ll get the chance to showcase my creativity to people at the University Centre and beyond, which is an opportunity I’m quite excited about. I also compete in University Centre competitions in hairdressing sometimes – usually in the creative colour and style categories. To me, those competitions are a great chance to demonstrate what I’ve learnt from the courses I’ve done at Newcastle College and the University Centre so far, while getting tips that develop my own skills through practice.
How do you think learning from industry experienced tutors has benefitted you?
It’s benefitted me a lot! Obviously, it’s not just all about hairdressing, I’m learning lots of new skills and building a stronger foundation of knowledge for my future career. But having teachers and lecturers who can provide that kind of on-the-job training because they’ve got so much industry experience behind them is reassuring to me, since I know I’m learning from the best.
How would you describe the staff at the University Centre?
They’re all good at what they do. They’re very accommodating across the board, so if I’m ever struggling with something, academic or outside of my degree, they’re always willing to help. If I’ve ever found myself in an especially tricky situation, the University Centre staff and my tutors have been really understanding, so if I’ve ever been in a certain situation, they’ve always been more than willing to lend a hand.
Have you overcome any challenges either before or whilst studying your degree?
Yes, I would say I have, mainly related to working while studying. Like I said before, I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to do a degree, so after I finished my Level 3 course at Newcastle College I started working part-time in a hair salon. I wanted to maintain that working life while I studied at the University Centre, but I realised it would take a lot of extra effort to juggle work and my degree. Once I’d spoken to my lecturers though, we arranged a system where I could work on alternating days and come in to study part-time at the University Centre. My degree timetable is quite flexible anyway, so it itself well to accommodating the specific needs of students.
What kinds of support have you received during your studies?
Mainly academic support. I’ve largely managed myself in my studies, but the Learning Enhancement Coaches have been really helpful whenever I’ve had assignments or projects that I’ve struggled with, they’ve helped me to understand how to improve my work whether that be grammar, content, or structuring longer written tasks.
What has been the highlight of your time studying at Newcastle College University Centre?
For me, I’d have to say doing well in the University Centre competitions. It always feels gratifying when I know I’ve done well, and other people can see the work I’ve done and appreciate the effort I’ve put into it.
What’s Newcastle like as a student city, in your experience?
It’s quite diverse. There are a lot of different characters and personalities you see around town when you go off-campus for lunch, or to work in a café, or on a night out. Obviously, the Newcastle social scene is fantastic, but there are so many other activities to try or experiences to have if you’re not too keen on clubbing, and I think that’s what I’ve come to appreciate more during my time at the University Centre.
In what ways do you think your degree at Newcastle College University Centre has prepared you for employment?
The staff at the University Centre have helped me to prepare for the challenges that might come up in the workplace. Even though I’ve had a job throughout my degree, they’ve helped me to build and improve my CV, and gave me interview training in case I ever go for new jobs in the future. As for my tutors and lecturers, they’ve been really helpful in improving my practical skillset, since I can now use it in my career moving forward, and potentially go into more versatile or demanding roles.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I’m already working, and I’d like to remain at my current place of employment, so I’ll probably be putting the skills I’ve learned at the University Centre to good use at work. Since I’m also quite interested in microblading though, I’d like to either try to expand what my current place offers, or go into a separate line of work if it comes to that.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about Steppin’ Up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?
I’d definitely say to give it a go! You’ve got so much to gain and very little to lose from studying a degree, and my horizons have expanded a lot thanks to the training and opportunities I’ve been exposed to at Newcastle College University Centre.
Describe your student experience in three words.
Interesting. Challenging. Rewarding.
What are your top 5 tips for Steppin’ Up at Newcastle College?
Be prepared – compared to college work, university is quite a big step up in terms of a challenge.
Have a good mindset – you’ll need to motivate yourself to work, even when it’s difficult.
Use the supporting facilities.
Remember to ask others for help – if you’re ever struggling with something, there’s a whole support network waiting for you.
Study hard, but have fun too!