From friendships to freebies: How to make the most of first year as a design student

by Feb 5, 2021

As a former student of UTS Animation, and UTS Visual Communication for a brief time, there are things I wish people had told me when I was in my first year of uni. Below are some tips from me for any first years starting out at UTS.



What I enjoyed the most about studying at UTS was its proximity to some of the best spots in Sydney. Your lunch breaks have no limits when you’re surrounded by great places for food like Chinatown, Darling Quarter, Darling Harbour, Spice Alley and Surry Hills. If you’ve got a few hours to kill, you can venture into the CBD by foot, or catch public transport to some signature spots, like Newtown or Glebe.

As a design student, it’s also extremely helpful socially and professionally to get involved in the local arts community. There are many local exhibition spaces a short walk away from UTS that you can get involved in, like Goodspace Gallery, and Knox St Bar in Chippendale.


Take advantage of all the discounted/free stuff

As a student, you have access to all kinds of free resources and student discounts. At UTS, you have access to incredible platforms via UTS Library, including the streaming service Kanopy, and an array of online courses on LinkedIn Learning, which features tutorials to hone your Adobe software skills.

You also have access to UTS Medical Service, the UTS Chinese Medicine Clinic, and UTS Psychology Clinic if you want to get a health check during your break between classes.

For advice regarding your career, you can visit UTS Careers which offers help with your resume, cover letter reviews, job interview tips, and more.

Outside of UTS, as a student, you’ll also find discounts for food, electronics, design software, clothes, movies, and events. To see what other discounts are available, check out UNiDAYS


Don’t be intimidated

You may have just finished high school recently, where there were perhaps only a handful of stand-out students in your art or design class. At university, however, you might have a moment of realising that everybody in your class is a stand-out student and extremely talented! Suddenly it feels like the standard is much higher, which can be very intimidating at first… but there really is no need to be concerned.

Try to be inspired to take on new challenges, see this as an exciting opportunity to learn from everyone around you, and make friends with like-minded people who can help you grow. 


Now is the best time to make mistakes

While you’re studying, take risks! Try out new ideas for projects, learn a new piece of software, experiment with a medium you’re not comfortable with, hire some equipment you’ve never used before and learn to use it.

Being at university gives you the opportunity to be in a safe space to do this, which you won’t necessarily get again once you’re out working with real clients in the industry. When there are clients involved, there’s a budget and a deadline, which means there isn’t as much freedom to experiment and make mistakes.

So, while you’re at uni, make the most of the experience and go wild with your ideas and creativity!


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Steffie Yee

By Steffie Yee

Digital Content Creator

Steffie Yee is a freelance Animator, Illustrator, and a Digital Content Designer at UTS Careers.

You can find her work at or on Instagram @steffieyee