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Make the most of every opportunity at DMU, Music grads tell students

Two graduates have returned to their old lecture theatre to tell students how the skills they gained at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) went above and beyond their degrees.

Guest speakers Ola Szmidt and Ioanna Pappa urged current music students to 'grab every opportunity' available to them to help with their future careers.

Music grads Ola Szmidt & Ioanna Pappa.WEB

Graduates Ola Szmidt and Ioanna Pappa return to DMU to speak to current students

They shared their very different career journeys, but agreed that the transferable skills learnt at DMU had been a huge help to them.

Freelance musician Ola told students she chose the ‘DIY music path’ of writing her own music and applying for funding rather than signing to a record label.

Last year she received the prestigious Steve Reid Foundation Innovation Award and has recently released her debut EP. She’s also been touring and has done lots of promotional work, including several appearances on BBC Radio 6 Music.

Ola said: “Without my degree and all the skills that came with it, I would not be where I am today.

“My advice for students is to get out there to meet people on the music scene, to learn how to network and to accept all the feedback they are given.

“Whatever someone is into, they have to focus on it without getting distracted, and they should always remember to be kind to everyone they work with, it really pays off later.”

Ola started studying Music Technology at DMU in 2007, took a year out to have her daughter, then switched to Music, Technology and Performance and graduated in 2012.

She worked with a production collaborative company to make jingles and music for films and TV shows, before deciding to ‘go it alone.’

Her music has its roots in traditional Scandinavian folk but uses electronics to ‘give it a little modern kick.'

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Meanwhile, Ioanna explained how she has worked for telecommunications company Virgin Media as Head of Learning & Development since 2014. She oversees a team of 60, and is in charge of personal development, sales targets and budget requirements.

She told students that graduating from DMU with a BA in Music Technology & Performing Arts and a Masters in Performing Arts & Education had ‘completely changed her personality.’

She said: “Before DMU I was the most shy, introverted, non-confident individual you could ever imagine, and not very sociable either.

“But I realised if I can finish a degree, get a Master’s and survive university by funding myself, I can pretty much do anything.

“I really can't put a price on that confidence. Everything I have achieved after university has been because of my confidence.

“DMU taught me I can achieve things. I no longer go into situations scared.”

After graduating in 2007, Ioanna moved to London with no clear idea of what she wanted to do. She originally taught music and dance in Greek schools then worked for alcohol producer Diageo in HR, business partnership and recruitment.

Ioanna, who is originally from Athens, said: “Degrees themselves are a great passport, but the skills you acquire around time management, line management, presentation skills, research proposals, just managing everything at once, are so transferable to any job.

“Students should grab every single opportunity given to them such as part-time jobs and extra-curricular activities.”

Peter Batchelor, Programme Leader for Creative Music Technology, said Ola and Ionna were invited back to DMU to inspire students as part of what is hoped to become a regular graduate guest speaker event.

He said: “It’s good for students to hear what graduates do after they leave DMU. It shows the wide range of available career paths and demonstrates the wealth of possible outcomes.”

Posted on Thursday 8th February 2018

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