"I really wanted to take control of my path, and my BU degree gave me the mind-set to know that that was possible.”
Some BU graduates enjoy the thrill of working for themselves using their degree to boost existing skillsets and daring to take on new ventures as creative entrepreneurs. BU graduate Zoe Mather is Principal & Artistic Director of Centre Stage School of Dance and Performing Arts in Bournemouth.
Graduating BU in 2006 with a First-class BA (Hons) degree in Communication and Media, Zoe says: “I went through clearing at BU after taking on a successful working gap year. The best things about BU were the versatility of the modules and the programme of study – my classmates and I had very clear objectives and the necessary support to achieve them.
“We had lots of fabulous seminars, with supportive lecturers and a mass of literature in the library. I think what stands out about BU graduates is their level of maturity, professionalism and the drive to succeed.
“My degree really offered support in light of PR, marketing, and professional writing skills, which led me to found my own business teaching more than 450 students, and managing eight members of staff. We’ve now gained various awards due to the success of the school, which is now very profitable.
“The professional writing element in BA (Hons) Communication and Media helped tremendously, as my business demands all formats of professional writing. The marketing modules also gave an excellent underpinning to utilise the principles of marketing my business."
Zoe quickly realised that her future lay in creating her own opportunities, being responsible for making her own money and marrying her extra-curricular teaching qualifications with her degree: “I soon realised from completing my degree that I was highly organised and efficient, and having obtained a First Class honours degree, I knew I had the skills to make this possible.
“I have a clear vision and a perfect driver which all bodes well for working for yourself. I didn't want to rely on someone else to earn a living and felt by owning my own business there was more room to expand my career in the pace and direction I also didn’t want the large organisational restrictions and politics that can hinder one's progression.”
While studying at BU, Zoe also set up her own small-scale dance company, which fully paid for her studies, leaving her to graduate BU with no student debt. This further paved the way for her to create her own school, Centre Stage School of Dance and Performing Arts: “My current role as Principal involves the back-end operational running of an independent school, including: administration, marketing, student appraisals, staff appraisals, contracts, licensing, recruitment, and footfall enhancement.
“I also take the lead in front end delivery, which includes the management of all lessons, planning, evaluations, and examination preparation. Dealing with audiences can include show management, managing performances, festivals, and West-End performances, and then there are accreditations, the website, and our training courses...I think it’s fair to say I do a lot in my current role!”
In helping to achieve her success, Zoe notes some key attributes she believes are essential to making the best of a degree: “You have to ensure that you gain the necessary footprint to succeed by maximising resources and the knowledge of lecturers – make studying a priority and then socialise, not the other way around! I really wanted to take control of my path, and my BU degree gave me the mind-set to know that that was possible.”