2 New York Student Visas, 2 Shillington Stories

Katrina Scott was a British Marketing Manager looking to shake up her life and career. Ina Estrada was a Filipino Investment Banker who took a leap of faith into the world of design. What do they have in common? They both got an M-1 Student Visa to study graphic design at Shillington New York. We’re proud to offer a visa option to international students who want a creative adventure in New York, and assist with the process along the way.

Since graduating, Katrina is back in London working full-time as a designer and Ina gained the confidence to open her own design studio and “make the Philippines a design savvy country”. Read on to hear about their unique journeys and experiences, along with tips about how you too could realise your design dreams in New York City!

Where are you from originally? What were you doing there before Shillington? 

Katrina: I’m from Guildford, just south of London. I was working as the Digital Marketing Manager for a well known brand when I decided to take a career break to travel, study and work abroad.

Ina: I’m from the tropical side of the world, born, raised and still living in Manila. Prior to Shillington, I took a leap of faith, ditched being an Investment Banker and tried out freelancing brand identity consultancy.

Why did you decide to study at Shillington New York?

Katrina: I enjoyed my job but found that as I became more senior I had fewer opportunities to be creative. When I handed over briefs I found that I’d prefer to be working on them myself.

I chose New York because I think it’s the coolest city on earth and I wanted to experience living there.

Ina: I knew my self-taught skills were not going to cut it. To be considered a better design thinker, I knew I still needed to get some sort of education even if it’s just for a term. Luckily, I met a fellow Filipino who told me about Shillington – as she just came back from the most rewarding 3 months of her life.

How did you find the M-1 Visa process? 

Katrina: Very easy. I had to visit the embassy for a short interview but everything came through very quickly. 

Ina: It was relatively easy and straightforward. I probably felt this way because I have an existing US Tourist Visa so I am quite used to the US visa requirements. For any questions I had in mind, I would call the local hotline of the US Embassy here in Manila.

Any tips for people going through the process? 

Katrina: You need a specific size of photograph (not usual passport size). And customs need to see the original documents, not the copies.

Ina: Make sure to process your visa ahead of time. I studied during fall in New York, but I was already fixing my student visa as early as March. It’s better to secure that early on so that in case of any mishaps, you have ample time to remedy them.

What should international students know about studying in New York City? 

Katrina: Your friends and family will probably want to visit you while you are in New York, try to get them to visit before or after the course—not during! You will be busy with course homework and spending time with classmates.

There are lots of people on the course who aren’t from New York and those who are will still want to hang out with you and show you the city.

Ina: There are two main things you need to do before the course starts: (a) book your plane ticket at least 2-3 weeks before the program and (b) connect with friends of your friends who live in the city. Finding a place to live in for just three months was a bit tough as most charge you a higher rent for a short stay so luckily a friend let me sublet instead. I went to New York three weeks before school as I wanted to make sure my lodging was settled before the course started. 

What are you doing now? 

Katrina: After New York I continued my travels and lived in Melbourne for 3 months working in the design team at Smiggle. I’m now back in London working for a medium sized tech company on everything from print ads to websites. I have found that freelancing often leads to full time roles. It’s daunting at first but I’m gaining confidence all the time.

Ina: I am in the works of slowly opening up a small studio where I’d like to get other creatives to be part of the graphic design journey.

Shillington has been one of the best investments for myself and for my country.

I can now confidently explain and deliver in-depth branding solutions to business owners and clients of all ages. Not only has it been easier to collaborate with other artists and companies, it also has been easier to team up with media companies to provide online content to influence others to fervently work hard to be a future builder of the world through design. I am now pumped up more than ever to make the Philippines a design savvy country, one brief at a time.

Visit Katrina’s website and Ina’s website to see more of what they created at Shillington!

Want to study design at Shillington in New York City? Learn more about the student visa process.