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A Western Industrial Designer working in China
Steven Gutteridge BA Industrial Design and Technology School of Engineering and Design
Steven Gutteridge BA Industrial Design and Technology School of Engineering and Design Brunel University has a wide variety of opportunities for international work experience and placements. Read Steven’s story below and find out how studying at Brunel University could take you on an adventure that will shape your future. How did you come across and why did you take up this placement in China? Did you learn Mandarin before? At Brunel, we spend the third year of our course working with a partner organisation in industry. Illumitron International, an American Energy Management company based in Hangzhou, China, advertised a Junior Designer intern position within Brunel University’s Placement and Career Centre which I applied for and got. I was particularly keen to move to China. I longed to be as close to manufacturing as possible and when it comes to designing new product solutions, there is arguably nowhere better to learn this lesson from the Chinese manufacturing industry.
Did you enjoy it? Which aspects in particular? I thoroughly enjoyed my two year stay in Hangzhou, so much so that I found it very hard to go back to the UK! I loved my job, but more so because of the people I worked with. We had a small team of around twenty employees, all but three of them Chinese, and they made me feel very welcome. Hangzhou also had a small ex-patriate community, so if I ever missed home I would visit some of the other foreigners I knew as many of us were sharing the same experience. Why did you extend your placement? The company I worked for had a very small design department and so we carried a lot of responsibility. Illumitron wanted to expand the department and asked if I wanted to stay and manage it for the foreseeable future. As I had invested so much in my degree, I instead negotiated a one year extension, with the option of returning after I finish my final year of studies. It was a very small company when I joined, during the Beijing Olympics of 2008, yet we grew rapidly over the first year. I was excited with our progress and felt that I had a lot more to contribute. I was also very keen to gain the valuable experience that being a manager would provide and so we went ahead and hired three more designers for Brunel University for the next year. Are you going back to China for work in the future? I am keen to return to China in the near future. I am currently engaged in a tough degree course at Brunel University and I want to concentrate on completing that first, yet I am also looking for employment. I have continued learning Mandarin alongside my degree, which will no doubt help once again in the future. I would like to work for a couple of years after I graduate, either in China or I will try to establish myself within the UK or USA first. I am also thinking of studying a Master’s degree in Business or Design Product. I have aspirations of one day running my own design studio, but incorporating strong ties within China to provide manufacturing options to clients as well as initial design work. Click here to find out more about Studying at Brunel University.