When Jasmine Thomas is asked for three words to describe her Ara Art and Design experience, she can’t help using four.
The 27-year-old designer, who now works at Ngai Tahu Tourism in Christchurch, studied the Bachelor of Visual Design at Ara and loved every minute.
“Challenging, fun, exciting and… innovative. Oh, that’s four.”
“It’s the place where all the good designers come from,” she says. “You meet so many talented people.”
After considering other options, the community spirit at Ara Institute of Canterbury reaffirmed to Jasmine that it was the place to be.
“I remember attending an open day and for the first time at an academic institute, feeling like I belonged.”
The course heavily focuses on developing communication and people skills, an element Jasmine says is hugely important in the design industry.
“I learned how to communicate my ideas, how to take on board other people’s concepts, and bring them all together for a successful end product.”
In her third year of the degree, she was doing client work at a design studio. Jasmine remembers helping business get back on their feet after the earthquakes.
“Ara has been teaching user-centered design for years,” she says. “They are ahead of the curve, and it means I have the fundamental knowledge to design anything.”
Students learn to talk with other designers and become more comfortable defending their designs, with the opportunity to access internships throughout.
Jasmine says the course pushed her to the limit, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There was a crazy 24-hour design challenge where, ultimately, we all felt like winners. The course pushed us in a really good way.”
What stands out for Jasmine was the way Ara Art and Design set her up for success in the workplace. She was industry-ready upon graduating and equipped with the tools to make her mark.
“Design is very subjective so responding to input positively is hugely important. What makes something good or bad?”
Her current role at Ngai Tahu Tourism sees Jasmine design for one of the largest tourism operators in New Zealand, serving more than one million customers every year.
“The values of the community at Ngai Tahu Tourism and Ara are very similar,” she says. “I love the work I do.”
Ara is well-known for having strong industry relationships, meeting employer demands and providing the skills for graduates to be relevant in a working environment.
For anyone considering study at Ara Art and Design, Jasmine has some simple advice: DO IT.
“I would not be the same without Ara; it has shaped me into the person and designer I am today.”
She is currently completing her honours at Ara Art and Design, set to finish in February 2019.