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WGU ten years

Megan Stokes

BA Illustration, graphic novels and children’s publishing


How did your time at Glyndwr University prepare you for the world of work?

My illustration degree prepared me to be a working freelance illustrator by encouraging me to have business cards made, a website of my portfolio and professional social media running. This was so that I had all the tools to be a freelance illustrator as soon as I had graduated. As part of my course, we had modules about the business side of being an illustrator. This included lectures and activities about pricing your work, how to get work, sending invoices, talking to clients professionally etc. Glyndwr University also runs a creative futures week once a year which is a week packed full of talks and presentations by people who work in the creative industries. This gave me an insight into all the different creative career paths I could take rather than solely being a freelance illustrator. The careers department also helped me prepare for work as I went to a CV workshop. This helped me develop a strong CV and allowed me to spot the skills and experience I already had.

What does your current job involve?

I am currently doing a 10-month internship scheme by Arts & Business Cymru in Theatr Clwyd. Arts & Business Cymru place recent graduates in arts organisations in Wales for 10 months to learn how to become a professional fundraiser. Me and the other graduate’s benefit from having a business mentor and arts mentor so we are fully supported throughout our training. Graduates also benefit from training courses about different areas of fundraising that we are all invited to attend.

At Theatr Clwyd, I am a trainee fundraiser working in the development department. My work involves corporate funding, funding from trusts and foundations and individual gifts. The development team are also in charge of the membership scheme of Theatr Clwyd and run exclusive events especially for them. My role will be to participate in all areas of fundraising as the theatre is undergoing a major capital redevelopment project.

What have been your career highlights to date?

My career highlight has been when I went to an event in London called New Designers as part of the third year of my degree. This was a week in London where my classmates and I exhibited our illustration portfolio to industry professionals. During this event, I was spotted and given recognition by the design manager from Sainsbury’s Home. This was a huge achievement as only 10 people were spotted out of 3000 students exhibiting.

What made you choose Glyndwr University?

I am originally from Monmouth, but I chose to study at Glyndwr University in Wrexham because the illustration degree looked so different compared to the others. Whilst in the application process for university, I went to 4 interviews at 4 different universities. Glyndwr University stood out to me as it was a smaller university, so it felt like to teachers would really get to know you as an individual. The illustration degree also stood out as it had the option to specialise in Children’s books which is a big interest of mine. It was also important for me to study in Wales and Wrexham is a friendly, community town which made me feel at home.

What kind of student were you?

I was a highly motivated and organised student. I was extremely determined to have a career in the creative industries, so I worked hard on giving myself the best chance. I had a good relationship with the teachers and I had a good attendance record. I enjoyed going to a smaller university as I wasn’t overlooked, and I received 1 to 1 feedback regularly. In the third year of my degree, I was joint student representative which meant I had shared responsibility for the class. As part of this role, I oversaw fundraising for the class to have a stand to exhibit our work in London. This gave me fundraising experience which helped with my application for the internship I am currently doing.

I wrote my dissertation about the representation of disability in children’s books as I think it is a relevant topic today. As I am so passionate about the topic of disability, the dissertation wasn’t an overwhelming chore to write. I finished my dissertation in the summer holidays before the third year of my degree started so that I could focus on the creative side of the degree for the whole academic year. This helped me keep on top of my work and it allowed me to focus all my attention on one task at a time.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in a similar field?

My advice to someone who wants to work in the creative industries is to try everything and be open to everything. The difficult thing about being a creative person is where your career is going to lead you. I have always loved all aspect of art; I didn’t just take art at school, I often went to the theatre with my family and I learnt how to sew and knit at home. I never knew what my dream job was when I was at school, I just knew I wanted a career that involved the arts in some way. As I was so open to anything creative, it opened so many opportunities. For example, my teacher at Glyndwr University suggested I should try graphic facilitation. She arranged for me to do a workshop to practice and then have some first-hand experience doing some graphic facilitation for the PhD students. This has given me work experience for a career I hadn’t even heard of. I can now adapt the skills for whatever job I am doing in the future.

I would also highly recommend to all creative people to do an Art and Design foundation diploma. This is a year-long course that allows you to try all the different specialisms of Art and Design i.e. Graphic design, illustration, ceramics, fine art etc. It allowed me to be experimental and creative for a year without worrying about the outcome. It also helped me decide what specialism I preferred and was most suited to.

My third piece of advice would be to turn your passion into motivation. Part of the reason my university experience was so successful was that I am so passionate about art and I wanted to have a career in the arts. This passion drove me to do everything I could to make that happen. A degree is hard work and it is natural to run out of steam towards the end but what kept me going was thinking that I didn’t want all this hard work to go to waste. I wanted to achieve a good grade, feel confident I could get a job and look back and be proud of what I have achieved.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Glyndwr University, and why?

I would recommend Glyndwr University if you would like to study in a place where you won’t be overlooked, and you want a lot of support. As Glyndwr is a relatively small university, you can benefit from having a relationship with the staff as they will get to know you throughout your time there. 

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