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Mr Andrew Dark

Bsc Business Information Systems And It Alumni Andrew DarkWhat are you doing now? 

I started Custom Planet while studying at Northumbria, printing custom t-shirts and clothing for stag/hen parties, sports teams and uni tour stash. I’m now managing 12 employees and producing promotional products and clothing for some of the biggest companies and organisations in the UK. I also own North East based clothing brand Longsands Co.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here? 

I was studying graphic design at Newcastle College and was advised by my lecturers that Northumbria was one of the best graphic art schools in the UK. I had my sights on setting up my own business so it was a difficult decision between a business course and graphic design, but at the last possible minute I went for business…and I’m glad I did!

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

It was great! The first year was a bit of a blur. Once I got stuck into it I really enjoyed all of the modules on the course. There was always a relaxed atmosphere and I found this really made it easy to get involved in everything that was going on. I found it very easy to get on with staff and other students, it was a great place to study and inspiring people to be around.

What impressed you most about our academic staff? 

The care and attention they give to the students. Individually they teach hundreds of students every year but I never felt like I was just a number to them. I’m not the greatest academically but if I was ever having trouble with something there was always someone on hand to explain things in a different way.

How connected was your course with industry?

I believe there were options to do internships/work experience as part of my course but I didn’t do it because I was busy with Custom Planet. We also had lectures from business mentors and leaders as well as our lecturers having a wealth of experience in industry.

How did studying at Northumbria help give your career an edge? 

It gave me the first real insight into various aspects of business and literally helped me develop my business plan as I was still studying. By the end of my studies I was already working towards creating my first website for Custom Planet using code. It’s a lot easier to build a website now but the code I learned still helps me understand problems with our website and talk to developers to find solutions.

What was the best thing about your course? 

I really enjoyed the more practical elements like web design and learning to use various software programs to build systems that can help run a business. 

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career? 

I think I use a bit of everything I learned on the course every day! It certainly helped me set up the business in the first place and I still use a lot of what I learned to help me figure out processes and systems in the business. As an example, we have just had a new management information system installed which runs the whole company. Everything from designing t-shirts and proofing to invoicing clients and scheduling jobs into production are controlled by the new system. I was the project manager for the development and everything I learned at Northumbria put me in a position to be able to do that. Before we used this system we used an Excel-based system which I created myself using only knowledge gained from my course. This carried us through for years and worked really well until it was time to upgrade to the new system.

How would you describe yourself in three words before coming to Northumbria? 

Nervous, Determined, Clueless

How would you describe yourself in three words after completing your first year at Northumbria?

Relaxed, Determined, Awake

How would you describe yourself in three words after you graduated at Northumbria?

Inspired, Determined, Focused

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I just really enjoyed being in an environment where everyone was there to work hard and play hard. Everyone is there for the same thing so it’s really easy to get on with everyone, and when you’re relaxed that’s when you do your best work.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria? 

I can only say from my point of view it was one of the best things I have done. For someone like me who was never sure which direction to go and what to do with my life it was perfect. Over the three years I was at Northumbria I developed ideas and learned the skills I needed to put them into action. It focused me on what I wanted to do and gave me a platform to build my business.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Inspiring, Fun, Challenging

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