4. Design Experiences department - planning everything with a pinch of fun

With Noelle van Rooij

What are the activities you do in this department?

”We are working on different events like the Open Days, Foundation day, EXPO, field trips, the New Years' drink for the teachers and so on.

We have different departments for different aspects: finance manager (for managing the budget), volunteer management (to keep in touch with all the volunteers and hosts), technical manager (for the technical part, pretty self-explanatory), marketing manager (in charge of promoting the events), legal manager (to make sure laws are being followed), and project manager (supervising everything).”

Are you working with real clients?

“Our only clients are BUas sand the locations where the events are going to be held. Some students work with external clients for the field trip. They organize a media-related trip to a VR world for Leisure & Events students.

Although we have quite big budgets to manage for the events, we still need to look for more funding by contacting sponsors.”

It feels like we are in the business already.

What current project are you working on?

“Organizing the Foundation day – the ceremony for the 2nd years AGM students who got their propedeuse diploma.”

What do you have to do for it?


“Organize the whole thing from start to finish, preparations, hosts, other volunteers. We are now discussing with the location. We are planning the decorations as well and trying to come up with activities to fill up the night. The invitations will be sent out in like a week, so we are a bit stressed.”

Are the supervisors helping?

“They are helping a bit. The teachers have a lot of things to supervise, they can’t focus on everything in detail. So, it’s mostly us working closely with 3rd and 4th years. It’s basically our responsibility. The supervisor gives you the big criteria that needs to be there and give approvals.”

What projects will you be working on in the future?

“The EXPO for the first year AGM students, where we will talk about the departments. This year that will be in real life, not online! And then the New Year drinks for the teachers.”

What do you like about your department?

“Right now, it's so stressful when you are trying to put everything together. But I know it will be worth it in the end.

When we see everything fall into place, and people enjoy the event and have fun, we can finally say: “This is what we do it for.”

We also have a very good team, it’s like we’ve known each other forever. And that makes it all so much easier and fun in spite of the pressure. You need to trust and work with your team because we don’t have a redo. It’s a pass or fail. You have one event and one shot at it.”

What skills are you learning or refining right now?

“Communication towards every group member. You tend to forget to communicate with everyone sometimes but with these projects you really need to make sure everyone is up to date.

And I’m still figuring out time planning.”

What skills do you think are needed for this?

“I think you need to be able to plan. I know I can do it but I never used it much before.”

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hA_hmo4c7o

5. Interactive department - Everything that a user can interact with

With Sara Simion

What are the activities you do in this department?

“I guess our department is the most open to a lot of different projects. It depends from year to year what clients you get. It’s called “interactive” because you have to make things interactive for the users. You should expect websites, VR experiences, everything with which a client can interact, it’s really broad.

Moreover, our supervisor, Laura, is always asking us what we want to do, or whether we want a lecture on a specific topic. She constantly encourages us to bring new ideas that we’d like to work on.”

Are you working with real clients?

“Our department is working only with real clients that you get either from inside the BUas community or from outside.”

What current project are you working on?

“A VR experience for the FIFA museum. Not just me, but all the members had to work on it because we are quite a small department.

None of us had experience with such a thing, so we all started from 0. Our supervisor was very open to answer any questions. She even organized some meetings with Cradle Lab (3rd floor) for us so they could explain to us better about how VR works and allow us to test the equipment. We are still in touch with them.

Then we did our own research, but we always met with Laura as well, at least once or twice a week.

There was never a day when she wasn’t there to advise us.

We did the concept for this and then we moved on to creating a low-fidelity prototype. We worked on that in UNREAL (a free real-time 3D creation tool). Even though it wasn’t a lot, actually starting to work in that was a pretty big challenge.”

What projects will you be working on in the future?

“We were now offered 3 projects to choose from:

We have a client from marketing that wants us to create 40-50 gifs and posters for their projects.

Another one is a university from Mexico that needs help with their website about women’s rights in Mexico, and with a VR experience on the same topic. They need us to do a 360 movie and picture storyboard, digital (volumetric) character design, and website design.

And the third project on which I actually work is called Pain City. It’s a VR experience that we need to create for people with chronic pain. We have to do a lot of research about chronic pain and how to help those who suffer deal with it a little easier. It’s a pretty big project in partnership with the National Pain Organization, which is amazing. To be honest, I didn’t expect to have these kinds of clients.”

What do you like about your department?

“It’s kind of spontaneous. You don’t exactly know what you will be working on, you just know you will have clients and they will request certain things. You have weekly meetings with them to keep in touch and update each other, just like you would do in a professional setting. Everything is just like in the industry. You can’t mess it up when you work with outside people.”

What skills are you learning or refining right now?

“I can say that communication and teamwork are always part of what you are doing. Even more now with real clients that can be very demanding and with whom you need to have clear communication.

We are also learning more concepts and the importance of interaction in media. And then there are the practical skills, I’m working in the 3D engine I mentioned above, UNREAL, but other teammates I have are improving on their own thing. You can choose what you want.”

What skills do you think are needed for this?

The only skill you actually need to have is being open to new things.

“If you are not a person that can adapt to change quickly, I don’t think this is the place you want to be: you have to keep learning new skills with an open mind, you always need to have creative ideas and come up with unique concepts to engage the user, and you frequently need to adapt to unexpected situations.”

6. Marketing department - Out of the box ideas for the clients

With Plamena Stefanova

What are the activities you do in this department?

“First we had a general meeting where our teacher assigned to each group real clients. We had to make a marketing plan for them. Each client has their own goal, it’s not the same for everyone. So, for example, some groups improved Linkedin profiles, others created art, marketing campaigns, or ads, it really depends. You meet with the client, see how it goes, what they want and work with that.

We also do a lot of research about our projects. It’s expected of you to look into statistics on trends, on what works and doesn’t. You research all of that a bit before presenting it to your client and then only get into details after you get the approval.

There is also the legal part of the business. Because these are real companies you need to follow the laws, get formal approvals for your plans and all of these things.

And of course there are always short lectures to teach you more and guide you.”

Are you working with real clients?

“We collaborate with all sorts of internal and external clients.

And each client is different. Some have actual offices here so you can visit them, some are from different cities or countries; some want to meet weekly, others just when updates are needed. For us it was rather simple: we were just told what we needed to do, did it, made a presentation about it, went through it with our teacher, and then discussed it with the client. They tell us what they like and what they don’t like and give us an idea on how we should continue.

They can send you back to step 1 or approve of what you did.

What is more, you also keep in contact with other outside people. For influencer partnerships, you have to contact them personally. For organizing events, you need to talk to the location or the authorities. It’s very real.”

What current project are you working on?

“Marketing for Koremans Limoncello. They are making new products, they are making jello with oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. So, they want us to think out of the box for some ideas. They already have an advertising agency, but from us, they want something out of the box. The most basic stuff they already have, as well as some social media posts already created.

We had a lot of ideas. We tried to use affiliate marketing with influencers - the most basic one. We are trying to focus on some live events as well, like a demonstration on how to do limoncello jello, peeling the lemons, mixing the ingredients, stuff like that. Right now we are working on some “jello spots” which are some spots for pictures nicely decorated with some posters, glasses, or props where people can take a few minutes to take some pictures, to just enjoy life. The motto of Korremans is based on this concept of “enjoy life,” so we wanted to work with that.”

What projects will you be working on in the future?

“No idea actually. This project will last until December and then we will get a new client to work with. But it will probably be in the same style of creating a marketing plan for them.”

What do you like about your department?

“I like that you really work with real clients and you feel very professional.

For example, when we were making the presentation, I was dressed in a blazer, we met with everyone to be on the same wavelength, discussed everything with the teacher beforehand like in the industry, everything was well-thought and prepared. It’s not just submit it and pass. You just do it because you like it.

The marketing in the first year felt more boring to me, but now it's a real plan that you are making. It can become real.”

Because it will actually happen, it's really exciting.

What skills are you learning or refining right now?

“Team skills. Sometimes you disagree, but you have to be one line in front of the client, otherwise you just seem like some unprepared student.

Be on time. Have ideas. Learning more about real-life marketing.”

What skills do you think are needed for this?

“Maybe learn a bit about marketing, just some basics. We have some lectures and then general meetings but you should have at least some vague knowledge about it before joining.

You need to know how to work in a team, of course. Even though we are so different from each other we can collaborate well, and you really need to be united in front of the client.

Professional and creativity are always required.

It’s nothing extraordinary, really, as long as you are motivated you can do it!”

So what you knew from the first year was enough for you?

“I don't remember much from the first year to be honest. This year I finally learned how to do actual SWOT and the other methods.

Marketing wasn't my thing last year, but I wanted to try it with real clients, and I’m glad I did!

I took some LinkedIn classes, listened to podcasts, and my friends who are passionate about it helped me a bit too. You can manage easily, so don’t worry!”

7. Publishing department – stories, colors, and people  

With Eva Onescu

As I am a member of the publishing department, I would like to tell you about my own experience in this part, although I will still keep the same question-based structure.

What are the activities you do in this department?

Everyone needs to work on either the online or offline version of the BLEND magazine (the magazine produced by and for the BUas community), as well as writing articles for the HUB. Within the publishing team, there are people who are just writers, some that also work on design, and there are 4 editors. The editors in chief have the most responsibilities, taking care of things like pitches with our clients - who are the HUB supervisors, - creating plans for the posting schedule of our HUB articles, keeping in close contact with 3rd and 4th-year students, and so on.

Regarding how we upload onto the HUB, it works accordingly: before uploading an article you have to get feedback from one of your colleagues, an editor, one supervisor. There is a long journey in which you learn to provide better feedback, be more open to the ideas others offer you, and most importantly, you learn how to be a better writer.

For the BLEND magazines you need to brainstorm a general theme, and together with your designated group create article ideas, act on them and write. The designers create mood boards, color palettes, and font packages that they then discuss with everyone. Even if you don't take the role of designer from the beginning because you are unsure, you can still work on that if you want to! A lot of the organizational things are really up to you and your team, which makes the work so much better since it is up to you to structure it.

Publishing students also have a requirement to include 2-3 interviews in their articles, and approve the questions with a supervisor before going in the field to conduct them. That's also really interesting: learning how to guide a conversation while still staying open to unexpected answers!

I thought it would be somewhat boring, but collecting stories, having infinite possibilities to write about, going out there to talk to people and take their pictures, without forgetting to have some fun along the way is actually incredible! I fell in love with this department, which was not my first choice if I am being completely honest.

Are you working with real clients?

Our only clients are the HUBand Orange Book (the organization that helps us with printing the BLEND magazine). However, it does feel 'like a real-life experience because you need to prepare pitches, stay in contact with your clients, and make sure your work is as good as it can be before publicizing it.

You do work a lot with people outside the BUas community as well since you interview them. At times, you need to contact many people before someone agrees to give you an interview. The only limits are those which you impose on yourself, it really is more than just sitting behind a desk.

What current project are you working on?

Writing articles for the HUB and starting our first article for the online BLEND magazine. There are two versions of the BLEND: the online one that you can find on the HUB, and the printed one that gets distributed around the school. Our theme for this year is “connections”. The offline magazine is all about connecting with others, and the online one is about connecting with yourself. I am currently working with another colleague on interviewing people who have unusual hobbies. This weekend I will go to Groningen and interview 2 girls that do pole dancing, see their training hall, and take some pics. I'm really excited!

For the HUB there are no restrictions. You can write about whatever speaks to you, as long as you discuss it with the supervisors beforehand and they approve. I love this freedom, and I think it’s a great chance for oneself.

What projects will you be working on in the future?

We are actually making 2 online magazines this semester because we had too many ideas, so there will be that, and more HUB articles. The online magazine has fewer restrictions because there is no space limit. You can also include links, gifs, videos, any interactive elements you want. The offline magazine has an actual budget, so there is a limit on the content, and you have to be sure you can fit your ideas in the pre-discussed page limit.

What do you like about your department?

I love talking and gathering stories. I also love the practical way of learning things, the freedom, and that there are so many opportunities to get and give feedback in return too. And the feedback is never something definitive, it’s an ongoing discussion, where the other can be wrong too. I love seeing the different styles of writing of my colleagues and learning how to offer them reviews without stripping them of their own artistic style. I am not great at design but there are such imaginative people here that it inspires me. Writing is a magic thing. I will actually publish an article about that on the HUB soon!

What skills are you learning or refining right now?

How to have a good interview. It never goes as you would expect, and that is the beauty of it.

Also how to kill your darlings in writing. How to write for an audience, keep things engaging.

And how to give good feedback!

What skills do you think are needed for this?

Just willingness to experiment. You don’t need to be a talented writer or an incredibly skilled designer. It’s all about learning.

Since there is a lot of freedom you have to also have a certain degree of independence in your work.