Alumni Services

Mike Harrower

Furniture Design graduate Mike Harrower on finding your career direction and making sure you have an eye catching CV.

Name Mike Harrower
Degree Course BA Hons in Applied Design (Furniture)
Year of Graduation 1991
Mike Harrower

Your time at the University

I found out about the degree in Furniture Design at ECA in 1988 when I met the freshly graduated Alan Cook at his cousin’s party. It instantly struck me as the perfect direction for my career. I immediately contacted the college, arranged an interview with Les Mitchell about a fortnight later and was awarded a place straight into 2nd year that autumn.

My best memories were all privately arranged team-building events with other students off campus, including hill-walking, motorcycle trips, etc, and the freedom to think in the design studios on ‘overnighters’ without the usual daytime noise & distractions.

Three months workshop experience at Charles Taylor Woodwork over the summer of 1989 was invaluable. My most notable experience was the danger of working with high-powered woodworking machinery when tired. No injury sustained and no further detail required, but it really woke me up!

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

There were no jobs when I left college in 1991, particularly in design fields. I resorted to earning a living in self-employment for the next three years, mostly on drafting plans for property alterations (I had previous trained as an architects technician 1983-1988). I also carried out five design & build furniture commissions during that period, but lost money on all of them.

I then picked up part-time work in the Estates Office at Edinburgh’s Telford College and from there my career moved through commercial & residential property management roles. I am now a partner in my own residential property management business. My time at ECA taught me some aspects of responsibility, self-motivation and self-confidence, but I had no real idea about how to market or promote my designs when I left and was still too naive to ask anyone for help.

Alumni wisdom

Develop an unusual CV and send out about 200 + copies during your final year. Advertise yourselves to everyone; product designers, interior designers, set designers, architects, landscape designers, craftsmen, engineers, etc, and offer to work for nothing if you have to.

Just get any experience you can with time-served professionals in the design industry. Refer to yourself as a Designer as soon as you qualify (not ‘qualified’ or ‘graduate’, just Designer) and network, network, network with your eye-catching business cards.