UAL graduates in the wake of the pandemic

For everyone studying for a degree, there is an overshadowing fear of what life is like after the security of education. The heaps of financial and emotional investment that completing a university course can take from students is something that shouldn’t be ignored. The countless hours of research and persistence that go into striving for the highest grade possible can really take a toll on students’ mental and physical state.

For UAL graduates hoping to break into the highly competitive fashion and creative industries, this anxiety is arguably even higher.  The class of 2021 had one of the most challenging final years for students in recent history with degrees completed on screen while students toiled for hours in rented properties or at home with their families making extra demands of their time.

_shift spoke to two UAL graduates from last year to hear about life after university and how they are embarking on their careers in the wake of the pandemic.

Louise Pietrzyk

Louise Pietrzyk graduated from UAL in BA: Cordwainers Footwear and scooped the 2021 Sustainability Award from the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. She says: “My favourite thing about UAL its location in central London. It meant exhibitions, museums, galleries and a whole world of inspiration around me.”

Beans on Toast by Louise Pietrzyk

For her final project, Beans on Toast, the young designer created a set of children’s shoes that are ethically made and biodegradable. She says the aim was to educate consumers about these issues so that ethical choices can be made in the future. The first collection to be released was called The Ocean Protector Collection, designed to teach young consumers about the dangers of polluting the seas.

Since leaving UAL, Louise has been interning at a luxury footwear brand. She says:  “Due to Covid, there haven’t been many jobs or internships available, so I am very grateful.” Like many other alumni, the skills learned in her time at the university propelled her into success: “The real world isn’t as scary so far, but I’m just at the beginning, so I’ll have to let you know in the future”

Anna Tartsini

Athens born Anna Tartsini graduated from UAL last year in Fashion Textiles: Print. She created a series of images for her final year project Colourful Lockdown, a visual presentation based on the ideas of fabrication, distortion, and movement, which she produced through photoshop. “My favourite thing when I was a student was staying late at the workshop. After a day like that I was always feeling super tired but delighted with myself.” Tartsini’s main ideas for Colourful Lockdown came from what she calls:  “The balance between anxiety and serenity.” Amazingly she managed to complete all this while quarantining in Greece.

Colourful Lockdown by Anna Tartsini

But what about after graduation? As a result of the pandemic finding a job was initially extra tough says Tartsini: “Many companies were not hiring, but now things are getting back to normal.” Her work is visually stimulating and of very high quality; the skill set required to create something of that nature is imposing. This opened avenues for Tartsini, and she has now embarked upon employment in a role she is content with. 

To learn more about the alumni from last year, you can visit the graduates’ showcase using this link:






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