From education to employment

How I knew a creative degree was right for me

Gemma Theobald, Marketing Support Manager, Volkswagen Group UK

Choosing a degree can be challenging with so many choices and so much (sometimes conflicting) advice. University for the Creative Arts alumni, Gemma Theobald, tells us how she was determined to carve her own path and knew a creative degree was right for her:

Let’s be honest – choosing what degree to study can be quite a stressful experience. From well-meaning but sometimes conflicting advice offered by teachers and friends, to the sheer range and variety of courses and institutions on offer, the decision-making process seems far from straightforward and you could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re still agonising over what degree is right for you, perhaps the last thing you feel you need is another person – a stranger for that matter – giving you advice. So I won’t. I’ll tell you instead a bit about my own experience of choosing a non-traditional degree, how I knew this was the right step for me, and how it has helped me in my career – and perhaps, just perhaps, some of what I write about why a creative degree was right for me will chime with your own experience. Here are some of the reasons I knew a creative degree was right for me.


I wanted to do something that I was really passionate about. I had a real love of fashion – not just seeing the latest on-trend clothes but really understanding what made designs work and brands successful.

I visited UCA during one of their open days and spoke to tutors who really helped me to understand how my interests could not only be the focus for my degree, but also equip me for a rewarding and stimulating career.

Some people find it too easy to be sceptical about less commonplace degrees so it was really helpful to hear examples of the sorts of practical skills we would learn on the degree and see real examples of the sorts of careers graduates of the course go on to have.

Career Opportunities

I wanted to do something that would put me on the path to a fulfilling career. When thinking about what degree to study, it sometimes seemed to me as though we were presented with a choice: either do something you are passionate about, or do something that will equip you with the transferable skills that will help you stand out in the world of work.

As I started to find out more about the degrees offered at UCA, I realised that it was no longer a choice between the two, but I could in fact have the best of both worlds. During the course, we learned a lot about creative thinking in a commercial context, studying in detail things like management strategy, PR and marketing, branding and international business. We also had practical hands-on training in using design software, such as Adobe, which are commonplace in the workplace.

Even though, in the end, my career took me beyond the world of fashion, the skills I learned on my degree have been enormously valuable in terms of thinking creatively, understanding strategic and commercial contexts, and developing practical design skills for a 21st century workplace.


I was prepared to follow my own path. Let’s be honest – some people can be quite sceptical about creative degrees, and I encountered my fair share of scepticism when deciding on what to study.

I was determined to do things my own way and do something that I knew was right for me and my career. I did my research and knew my facts – that the degree would provide me with up-to-date technical knowledge, transferable skills and had a high employability rate – that helped me in my conversations with my friends and family.

I have no regrets about my choice of university or course of study. I absolutely loved my time at UCA, not only did I leave with a degree that I enjoyed and transferable skills to take me into the working world, I left with great memories and life-long friends.

My degree came with no limitations, I have managed to adapt my knowledge to an entirely different industry – automotive, and the experience I gained both during study and on work placements has allowed me to stand out in my new field of work.

A creative degree isn’t right for everyone, but as someone who was passionate about creativity, hungry to learn more about the world of business, and determined to carve her own path – it was right for me… and it just might be right for you as well.

Gemma Theobald, Marketing Support Manager, Volkswagen Group UK

About Gemma Theobald: Gemma studied Fashion Management and Marketing (BA Hons) at UCA (University for the Creative Arts) and now works for Volkswagen Group UK as a Marketing Support Manager.

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