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Danny Owen

Before studying at university I was always interested in technology and graphic design. Studying at Northumbria allowed me to combine these two interests - by designing digital products and experiences. Since graduating, I’ve worked as a Product Designer in a number of industries both at large companies and small start-ups.

What are you doing now?Northumbria alumni Danny Owen smiling

I’m currently a Product Designer at a start-up, creating crowd testing software for a QA (Quality Assurance) platform. We have a global community of thousands of testers who we connect to customers, including Meta, Google and Microsoft, to test the quality of their software.

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

I applied to a number of universities and interviewed with their design courses. Many had a focus on the art itself, however Northumbria also emphasises a strong focus on employability. The design facilities at Northumbria are brilliant, and the staff are very passionate. My biggest concern with studying design was getting a job afterwards. At the open day I heard so much from course leaders about the employability of past graduates and the work students do as part of the course - not just to make you a great designer, but an employable one.

All of the above, combined with the fact that Newcastle is such a fun city to live in, made Northumbria a clear first choice for me.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

A lot of fun. The university itself has great facilities and the staff are really talented and passionate about what they teach. As a design student I could really see the impact studying at Northumbria was having on myself as a designer.

Going to Northumbria also means moving to Newcastle, which is a massive bonus. It’s such a vibrant city, especially as a student. I enjoyed my time at Northumbria living in Newcastle so much that I still live here, years after graduating.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

The wide variety of backgrounds and genuine passion for their craft was amazing to see. I had lecturers who were software engineers, creative directors, design researchers, animators, spatial experience designers and many more. Having such wide range of staff experiences allowed me to explore many avenues of design that I’d never tried before, with the knowledge that there was someone with a massive amount of experience that I could leverage.

How connected was your course with industry?

Every year of my course had modules dedicated to employability that involved meeting and working with real companies and designers from industry. I attended mock interviews with large agencies and Meta. I worked on projects that gave me real industry clients and briefs.

I was also encouraged to do a placement year where I worked for 15 months as a UX Designer in industry. This was the best decision I made during my time at Northumbria. It gave me over a year of experience applying for jobs after graduating, showed me practically what it means to be a designer in industry, helped me build a professional network and allowed me to make the most out of my final year studying.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/give your career an edge?

The amount of exposure I had to the industry whilst studying made me certain that it was the career I wanted and helped me stand apart from applying for graduate roles. Before studying at Northumbria I knew what design was but I didn’t know what the  day-to-day of a professional designer looked like. My placement year allowed me to apply for jobs as a designer with experience, not as a fresh graduate, which was a real leg up.

What was the best thing about your course?

The variety of modules and lecturer expertise. I was able to try so many new things which really opened my mind up to the kinds of design I’m capable of. I designed apps, built websites, build games, created physical installations and worked on electronics. This exposure and this mindset has been incredibly valuable in my career since graduating.

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

I would say the main skill I’ve used since graduating is keeping an open mind to design. I work as a Product Designer on apps and websites but I now know that the best solution isn’t just to design a new part of the user interface. I’m much more open to creative thinking and looking for solutions that might not be as obvious.

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

Curious. Driven. Happy.

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

Living in Newcastle and making friends that I’m still close to now. The quality of the course and the teaching was amazing, but this is just one factor in what I look back on as a really positive time.

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

Visit the city, visit the university. I’m sure seeing what Newcastle has to offer as a city and meeting the staff for your course will be enough to convince you.

Danny's work

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