Forest Gate graduate finds work with last year’s Apprentice winner

Youth unemployment is down despite many young people still feeling the doom and gloom around them.

One of those successes is Hazera Chowdhury, a 26-year-old product designer from Forest Gate.

Hazera is now working with last year’s winner of BBCI’s The Apprentice Tom Pellereau in Lord Alan Sugar’s company designing products and packaging but it wasn’t an easy road.

Hazera dropped out of university after experiencing problems there and couldn’t find a job which left her at an all time low.

She said: “I had no money, my confidence was shattered but design got me through it.”

The aspirational designer threw herself in to as much work experience as possible working with companies who make models for internationally renowned designers Ron Arad and Thomas Heatherwick.

Hazera gave university one last try and graduated in 2010 with a Product Design degree from the University of East London.

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She said: “I graduated around the time of the recession. I couldn’t find a job anywhere. It was hard.”

But her determination to succeed never let her down. She started painting and designinmg products in the garden shed which she turned in to a mini art studio with the help of her parents.

She eventually got agency work and at one point was holding down three part-time jobs.

Hazera came across Tom Pellereau when she was flicking through the channels.

She said: “I remember Tom on the show for being creative. It was nice to see an inventor win.”

She emailed Tom over the course of a year but never bombarded him.

She said: “I basically said he had the power in his hands. I knew I could learn a lot from him and I would give him back a lot of creative energy. I knew I had a lot to give.”

Tom replied saying there was a position for her if she was available.

Hazera said: “I’ve learnt a lot from Tom, this is a real-life commercial experience. He’s a nice guy and funny but serious about his work. I am thankful for this opportunity.”

The designer believes it is time the government helped young graduates by calling for specific programmes to be put in place.

Hazera said: “When you leave uni, you are naturally scared, you don’t know which way to go. You are vulnerable.

“I don’t think graduates get enough support. They need support to be catered to them, uni doesn’t help with jobs, it helps with skill.”

Insisting on hard work and perseverance, she said: “You have to do the work and be persistant – show, not just talk. Show a body of evidence, your work to back up your passion.”

Hazera doesn’t have any firm plans for the future but hopes it involves designing more products and travelling. S

he said: “Design is eveywhere. It’s about innovation. My products have to have a purpose or to help people. I never gave up. Sometimes you have to go through those tough times to get what you want.”

You can follow Hazera on Twitter: @hazera_design

Hazera was interviewed by her sister Nazma Chowdhury who is training for an NCTJ in Newspaper Journalism at Press Association in central London.

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