Hello, I’m Klaudia.
I moved to the UK on my own when I was 20 years old and decided to go to university at 23 when I stopped enjoying working as a supervisor at a bakery. I studied Fashion Buying and Merchandising at London College of Fashion because I’ve always loved fashion but I quickly realised I am more interested in researching trends and people than thinking of the next version of a popular dress style. Even though the course didn’t lead me to a career in fashion retail, I discovered my passion for consumer behaviour and research and I’m hoping to start my career as a market researcher or a consultant soon.
It’s so important to speak to others about their culture, values and their meanings not only because it’s fascinating but also to practice empathy. One of the reasons I love learning about human behaviour is because I think it’s fascinating how relative everything we do is.
London feels like home because I’ve grown with it – when I moved, it was my first time visiting it and it was a complete blank slate. I know it pretty well now, I discovered it on my own and a lot of places hold memories so it does feel ‘mine’. I also feel like I’m part of the city because I’m engaged in its culture and, in a tiny part, influence its future.
I love London because it feels like living in a condensed version of the whole world. I actually love going to the ‘world foods’ section of a big shop because it feels like I’m abroad.
My favourite part of living here is how diverse the landscape of everyday life is. You don’t go to tourist spots, you walk past them daily. I love watching the city from an overground train, especially when going over the river. The view from the platform at Blackfriars train station is one of my favourites too.
Cycling also plays a big part in London feeling like home. It’s the reason why I know the city so well and it gives it a certain kind of accessibility, especially in the past few months when I cycled places that would normally seem too far. Now, I feel like all I need to get anywhere at any time is my bike (and reasonably rested legs).
A cycling route I often take to get to central London is a great example of having a little bit of everything so close by. I get on the canal path in Ladbroke Grove and then go through Paddington Basin, Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace and Westminster. It’s an amazing route, especially early in the morning when the sun is rising above the pond in Hyde Park.
Maybe because I’m from a seaside city originally, I need to be by the water when the hot weather hits. Every summer I go to Parliament Hill Lido and last year I went to a near-by Ladies Pond for the first time. I instantly fell in love with this magical place full of wildflowers and women of all shapes and ages. The pond and sunbathing areas are hidden from onlookers making it feel like a true oasis. If you’re not phased by a little bit of nudity, you should go check it out – just make sure you get there early.
Moving to England was a key moment that impacted the direction of my life the most. I initially moved for 6 months after quitting studies in Poland with the intention of returning to sit an additional exam and study at a different university but when I moved back to Poland I realised I could no longer live there. In London, at the age of 20 I was able to support myself to live on my own, go out and go on holidays but in Gdynia, people don’t tend to move out until later in life as jobs are more scarce and the cost of living is quite high. Once I experienced the freedom in London, I couldn’t go back to my previous life. I do wonder sometimes if my life would be ‘easier’ if I was never exposed to the possibilities in London…
Going to study at London College of Fashion has definitely been a defining moment because it opened my eyes to work opportunities available in the creative industries. I often think that I should have studied another subject, such as marketing, communications, media or psychology because I learn about them in my free time now as they seem to be most useful for market research and media professions. However, I know that I made the best decision with what I’d known at the time. I try not to have regrets because at the end of the day, it’s impossible to know that making a different choice would lead to a ‘better’ outcome.
I am free from the restrictions of my job title since it seems to change all the time! I feel like I’m a collection of a number of things I do and I look forward to the day I will be able to say ‘I work in x’. At the moment it always sounds a bit like my introduction here: I want to do x and I am currently doing y and z’.
One of the reasons I would like to work in insights is because I would get to research everything. I love how trends spread across industries and how seemingly unconnected things can have a large impact on each other. I enjoy working on branding and creative, helping create products and services that people will enjoy and connect with but I also like helping people in a more direct way by working with charities and nonprofits. I would also see myself as a researcher working to inform policy. My ‘wildest dream’ would be working for the Behavioural Insights Team. But that’s just one of the ideas for the future…
I am really interested in behavioural economics and have been looking at master’s degrees in media neuroscience and behavioural decision making. I don’t think I could commit to university in this uncertain climate but it’s on my mind quite often and I would like to do it at some point in my life.
I’m not sure if it could be classified as a side hustle but I enjoy buying second-hand and vintage clothing. It was actually one of the things I missed in lockdown, being able to walk into a charity shop and be inspired by an unordinary piece. I also really enjoy following fashion and find it funny when ‘the latest’ trends are essentially copying something from years ago. So, whenever I see a unique or a vintage piece that fits with the trends, I get it to sell it on my depop. I’m more of a hoarder than a seller at the moment – I just enjoy having unique pieces so I mostly sell ones I got for myself but didn’t end up falling in love with.
I have felt uncertain about the future ever since graduating but I think this feeling has peaked during the pandemic. It’s been challenging looking for a job in the competitive job market in London, trying to work in an area I didn’t even study. I have been getting experience patiently but it has been very discouraging at times, whether it’s because of not getting a reply to an application I spent days preparing or getting through to the last stage of the recruitment process and hearing ‘you were good but someone was better’.
I was hoping that the internship I undertook in January would be the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for and lead me to a full-time position. Things were looking up as I booked interviews in March but then, the pandemic happened. I was thinking about how competitive the job market was before and how much worse it’s going to be after the lockdown when professionals might be competing with graduates for the same positions. It made me question the importance of having a ‘fulfilling’ career and whether now it’s the time to give up and find a job ‘I don’t hate’ that would allow me to do what I love in my spare time. But I’m not ready to give up just yet.
I think everyone faces a lot of pressure in terms of what to do with our lives and when. Whenever I start comparing myself to others, I think of what’s important to me and what makes me happy. Sometimes It’s hard to ‘zoom out’ and see current struggles as insignificant in relation to the bigger picture but it definitely helps in overcoming any ‘downs’.
It might seem trivial but listing the things that you are grateful for also helps. It helps to appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. I am grateful for being in a position where I can take my time ‘figuring everything out’ and having a support network that makes me feel like I can do it.
Since I’m not working at the moment I’m trying to be kind to myself and have ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ days depending on how I feel.
Ever since we were allowed to meet outdoors, my routine has revolved around seeing friends once or twice a week. Being able to do that has been a real saviour and I’m happy that I can finally share the results of my baking craze with others. I also try to exercise every day, whether it’s a cycle, a walk, yoga or strengthening exercises I took up a few months ago. The sense of accomplishment and doing something good for my mind and body has really helped to keep me going.
As England emerges out of lockdown, work opportunities start to appear and I’ve been focusing on applying for those. Being a jobseeker has kept me on my toes and I spend a lot of time reading articles as I have to stay up to date with trends in consumer behaviour, advertising and branding. Sometimes I get carried away diving into a topic and before I know it, I have spent the whole day reading. It’s definitely harder to keep to a structure if you’re the one doing both the setting and policing it. What I’ve also found challenging is finding the right balance between being ‘productive’ and giving myself enough space to mentally process the current situation and rest.
I have become fascinated by the works of unconscious bias since learning about them in a consumer behaviour class whilst at university and reading the famous book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini. If I could ask The Sense Network to help me change one thing in the world, I would like people to know more about their unconscious biases and work together to minimise their impact on decision-making. Because of Sense Network’s reach, it would be great to work with thought leaders across industries to implement training in organisations around the world. Because the Sense Network is full of curious minds, perhaps a volunteer training program could be introduced to run workshops where it’s not as accessible as in large organisations or corporations. Imagine what could be achieved if we made everyone aware of just how much some of these biases impact our lives in negative ways. Working with children in particular could have an immense impact on our society in the future. Recently released programme ‘The School That Tried to End Racism’ on Channel 4 shows just how effective workshops can be and give a glimpse of hope for a different future, if only this practice was widely adopted.
Inspiration from you to us
Watch this: Design for Living, a 1933 film (don’t be put off by it, the film is hilarious)
Read this: The Science of Fate: The New Science of Who We Are – And How to Shape Our Best Future. Book by Hannah Critchlow
Listen to this: No Stupid Questions podcast; Freakonomics podcast, particularly the ‘Tell me something I don’t know’ live episodes
Visit here: London, if and when restrictions allow:
If you want to meet people like Klaudia, participate in paid brand projects & contribute to creative activities you can join The Sense Network.