Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Gates to the future

Interior designing and fashion at Career Gates

Career Gates is a professional training institution affiliated to the Modern Sciences and Arts University (MSA) in Cairo. Instructors receive students who may have no experience in the field they are about to study, aiming at helping them find their passion in life. Instructors and students tell Mai Samih about how their study has made a significant difference in their lives.

“After every workshop there was a project we should deliver. My instructor, Ahmed Abdel-Azim, did not know that I was a pharmacist. On our first project we were designing a plan for an apartment, and we had to do it manually without using the professional design programme Autocad. When my instructor saw my drawings he thought I was an engineer, but I told him I was a pharmacist. He saw something in my work, however. This really encouraged me to go on in the field of design,” said Ahmed Mohamed, one of the students who did an interior design diploma five years ago and has seen a change in his life since.

Mohamed now works in a well known graphic design company. 

 Salsabil Al-Sawi graduated from the Faculty of Islamic Studies and Arabic in Cairo, but her mother, also a fashion designer, encouraged her to take up fashion as a career after seeing she was talented in the field. Al-Sawi went on to study at the Career Gates fashion design department. “When I took part in a fashion show it gave me a feeling of self-confidence I had never had before. I had always had ideas, but I had been unable to carry them out. After the diploma, I was able to start working on my ideas up to the point of seeing them on the cat walk,” she said.


STARTING OUT: Amr El Degwi, Career Gates C.E.O, gives details about how it all started.

“Career Gates is an initiative that has been developed by MSA since 2009 with the idea of providing a full spectrum of professional training programmes and workshops that would develop our learners’ vocational skills and the knowledge required by their professional careers,” he said. 

“It is now one of the premier institutions in Egypt providing state-of-the-art education that can transform young minds to be true professionals in the sphere of art and design,” he added.

“This education can enable you to fulfil both your personal and professional objectives, whether in advancing your line of work, preparing for employment, or balancing your career and personal life.” he said, adding that MSA has partnership agreements across the region to ensure high-quality education and training services.

It offers diplomas or courses in fashion, interior design, furniture design, make-up, styling, graphic design, filmmaking and teenage fashion. The number of hours of study differs depending on the diploma or course with samples being the fashion design diploma (355 hours / one year), interior design diploma (180 hours / eight months), furniture design diploma (120 hours / five months), make-up course (20 hours), styling course (18 hours), filmmaking course (48 hours) and teenage fashion course (36 hours).

“Our aim is to provide high-quality teaching with professional Egyptian and international instructors,” El Degwi said.

Mohamed Khafagi is a Career Gates instructor in fashion design, having a background in deconstruction in fashion and its relation to architecture from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Cairo. 

“In my teaching I apply what I have studied in terms of how fashion design is part of the identity, like society and politics. I also apply this in my work as a fashion designer. We teach students that studying fashion design is not just about opening your own atelier or starting a new brand, but that it is something that should be tied to every event that occurs in your life. Career Gates organises at least one or two fashion shows for its students to give them the know-how in organising a show, producing a collection and working backstage,” Khafagi said. 

“When we started nine years ago, the idea of an academy that gave people the know-how in art and design was new. We wanted to award an international diploma that people could depend on to change their careers,” said Abdel-Azim, originally qualified in sustainable development and tourism. He is now an instructor in interior design and one of the founding staff members. 

Abdel-Azim said that students come from all ages and backgrounds, from secondary school students to retirees seeking a new passion in life. “Our challenge is to deliver to all these different segments and make them feel relaxed and creative. At the same time, our diplomas must be applicable in real life, which has been another challenge. We want to help people function better in their lives and careers.” he said. 

 “A student does not have to be specialised already. Being talented is enough. We work on that talent and try to boost it. This is what we are trying to do,” Abdel-Azim added.

Career Gates diplomas are accredited in Egypt by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, among other recognised bodies.

Interior designing and fashion at Career Gates

BECOMING PROFESSIONAL: Career Gates aims to help students become professionals in their fields, following up on the learning process and giving theoretical and practical training. 

“Out trainers allow students to present their projects during the diploma period and evaluate them. They carry out field visits according to the requirements of each diploma or course. Fashion design students have the chance to participate in our annual Fashion Festival for example,” El Degwi said. 

Conditions required for admission are a degree from a college of higher education, a good level of English, a passion or talent and seriousness and commitment. Scholarships are available through pre-announced competitions.

Among events organised by Career Gates students or graduates have been the Fashion Mania Workshop, which aimed at spreading a love of fashion in Egypt, the 2014 Miss Egypt Competition, the 2017 First Furniture Expo for Furniture Diploma Graduates, the Egypt Salon du Meuble and the Fashion Festival Grand Gala in 2018.

Branches of Career Gates are located in Dokki, Heliopolis and 6 October city where the MSA Campus is situated. Branches are planned in New Cairo and Alexandria. 

“I see it as an advantage, not a flaw, that you leave a space for students to think freely. You offer him or her the content, the tools, and the basics, and you leave the space to think. Unfortunately, some people still think students should be spoon-fed information, but this does not create the creative people we are looking for, just people who follow pre-established trends,” Khafagi commented. “I think that the temporary courses should be made permanent, like fashion marketing and the history of merchandising. We are working on implementing this.” 

“I think that students should do their utmost to get out into the world more since people see each other through social media and that helps them to excel. I would like to see the MSA having foreign partners to help us become exposed to events outside Egypt like fashion weeks and fashion shows abroad,” commented Abdel-Azim. 

For future students, “there are two things that should happen from the very first session. A student should understand and enjoy what he is doing. If this happens then he is in the right place,” he added.

“In future we intend to have more cooperation with international universities in Europe and the US, as well as introduce new diplomas and courses in the applied arts. We will also collaborate more with companies, building internship programmes for our students and career opportunities for our graduates,” commented El Degwi.

“The Career Gates incubator programme will also provide a creative and professional environment to foster promising fashion talent and help selected designers grow and sustain their businesses. The incubator will offer low-cost studio space, business mentoring, educational seminars and networking opportunities to help this happen. It provides a way for participants to reach their full potential and become integral parts of the domestic and international fashion community,” he said.

“My message to people who want to come to study with us is that they should follow their passion no matter what others think,” Mohamed concluded. 

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