Graduate Case Study – Christina Skouros & Tony Thompson – Norwich

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Christina Skouros
Christina Skouros — Photograph by Matthew Sharpe

If we told you that not one – but two – students regularly commute from Norwich to Wakefield for the FdA Web Design course, you’d probably be surprised. However that’s the case for Christina Skouros and Tony Thompson, who make a weekly round trip of over 360 miles to study with University Centre at Wakefield College. They tell us this sort of behaviour is ‘NFN’ … Normal for Norfolk.

Why Wakefield?

Christina: I knew I wanted to study web design, but it was just a case of finding the right course. There wasn’t anything like it in Norwich at the time – there still isn’t – but it’s becoming more of a Digital City now. I found it whilst Googling for web design courses. It seemed the most relevant one because of the hours and I thought it was doable from Norwich.

Tony: I had studied Graphic Design after leaving school. After many years of not using my skills I wanted to get back into the Creative & Digital Industries and was interested in applying them to web design. Christina recommended the course that she was studying. I researched it for myself and was encouraged by its 100% employability record. The scheduling suited me perfectly because it meant that I could study as well as continue with the other commitments I have.

How does Wakefield compare to Norwich?

Christina: I think they’re very similar, although Norwich tends to have more tech meet-ups.

Tony: The Creative & Digital Industries are growing in Norwich and the area is focussing on becoming a Digital City. I’m impressed, that in Wakefield, companies work and interact well with the FdA Web Design course to give talks to students and to provide an insight into the industry.

Where is Creative & Digital heading?

Christina: WordPress is taking over; video is really big at the moment. Every job advert I see wants some JavaScript experience. When I first started the course Responsive Web Design wasn’t that big, but now it’s massive in two years. That’s how quickly things move.

Tony: Web Development is in demand. Websites do look very similar at the moment. That's probably to with Responsive Web Design being an influence – it’s the main feature clients want.

By now, you might have worked out that Christina and Tony are more than just class mates, although spending time together is made more difficult because Christina is actually in the second year of the course, and Tony the first. How much do you help each other?

Christina: We’re so wrapped up in our own work it’s difficult to help each other. Every now and then I see something he has done and will give him a few hints. He’s really creative so sometimes I will ask his opinion on certain design work.

Tony: Christina is more advanced in her learning for me to really have much input on her work. If I do ask a question the standard response I get is Google it! – we have strengths in different areas and encourage each other. It’s good to relate to each other with the topics we talk about and the terminology being used.

Could that mean a Skouros-Thompson Digital Agency is in your plans?

Christina: I’ve got future plans, and future-future plans. I’ve just got a job as a Front-End Developer with Wex Photographic so I want to concentrate on that for now. However, my future-future plans are to team up with Tony one day and become self employed.

Tony: My main plan is to gain some agency experience, but Christina and I have already spoken about joining forces in the future and become self employed and run our own business.

And what of Yorkshire?

Christina: I like how friendly everyone is; how everyone wants a good old chat! However, I’ve given up asking for a ‘sandwich’ because they come in a bap – or bread bun – as they call it up here. To this day I still don’t know what two slices of bread with a filling is called!

Tony: I’ve not had the chance to experience what Yorkshire is all about yet, but I know Hofmann’s do good baps and pork pies!

What will you reflect on when you’re on the train back to Norwich for the last time?

Christina: I’ll be excited to finish the course, but also a little bit empty because I’m so used to the routine and have built up some good friendships. I’m looking forward to not having to get on any more trains! The most important thing would be the amount I have learnt from the course – it’s insane. I feel really proud of myself; it’s been tough but I wouldn’t change it.

Tony: The most important thing I have taken from the first year is the importance of organisation – I learnt a lot about myself and how to handle pressure. It has been intense, however I am a quick learner and this has been an advantage.

Christina: Overall it’s been such a great experience – not your usual University life – more intense, but that’s how you get great results. Thanks to the course for the opportunity and teaching me all things web. Now, where’s my cap and gown!?

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