‘The world needs design thinkers in every aspect of life’: says Julie James, Founder Director, afdindia

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Today, youth has a number of career options. There has been a steep rise in the number of students choosing careers with creative courses. However, to be able to get admission in some of the best institutes, one has to prepare methodically and smartly. afdindia, one of the oldest design exam coaching institute in India has been preparing students for NIFT, NID, CEED, UCEED & NATA exams. Over the past two decades, afdindia has trained over 10,000 students. Julie James, Founder Director, afdindia, has been actively preparing students to chase their dreams to get admissions to some of the prestigious institutes for Design. In this interview, Julie James shares her journey and the future plans for afdindia.  

Q. Can you take us through your journey so far as an educator?

Its been a long journey, I have enjoyed the ride so far. Some of our past students are now teaching with us, many have started boutiques and run their own enterprises. I am fortunate to have been able to influence so many young minds and change their career path to design. Some of my past students are today heading design firms in and outside India. My happiest moments are when an old student reaches out to me on phone. 

Q. When did you decide that you want to start afdindia? What was your inspiration to start afdindia?

As earlier as 1998, I had aspiring students approaching me to guide them in cracking the NIFT entrance exam. Since I was devoting a considerable amount of time at this, I decided to make booklets of study materials on different areas of knowledge, that students can prepare before the entrance test. I then thought of making it business opportunity by providing these booklets as a postal course.

With onset of internet it wasn’t very hard to reach people across physical boundaries. Soon people from all over India, east to west, north to south, were subscribing to my postal coaching programs. From 2004, we started supplementing these study materials with one-week contact programs in 6 metro cities, where I used to travel and conduct a special session. Slowly, afdindia started to grew to having weekend and regular classes in these cities.

Q. What are the different examinations that you prepare the students for?

We prepare for all Art, Architecture, Design & Fashion colleges that have entrance examinations. Some of the prestigious exams are of NIFT, NID, UCEED, CEED, NATA

Q. What are the challenges you came across and how did you overcome these challenges?

The lack of single, common entrance exam, for all design colleges is definitely a challenge. There is a need to have a single exam, along the lines of CAT for MBA or NATA for architecture. It is difficult for students juggle the dates & applications of so many different design college exams. 

 While NID & NIFT exams are largely drawing based the UCEED exam in MCQ based.

Q. How many students has afdindia prepared for design entrance exams so far?

Over 10,000 students have been trained in the last 22 years.

Q. What is the trend that you have seen in these 2 decades? Do you feel that more students are opting for creative courses than earlier? What is your opinion on this growing trend?

Earlier students who joined us faced a lot of resistance from family & peers. These were many prejudices against becoming a designer, originating from the fear of a secure future. Now students, who join us are proud to be studying to become designer. The mind set has surely changed. The world needs design thinkers in every aspect of our lives.

Q. What your future expansion plans for afdindia?

We plan to change the current model of course delivery. We are currently working on adapting our course for delivery in an online platform. This way students would be able to interact with our tutors and course content siting in their homes.

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