One the proudest moments of career happened last year. It was not, as you might think, the first time I got published, or winning a great design project, getting my MA, or a promotion.
It was in Debenhams.
A student I had the pleasure of teaching some time ago (I have taught on a few courses since being self employed) bumped into me whilst shopping. She was delighted to tell me that I inspired her to follow her passions and live her life the way she wanted it; she was an exceptionally gifted student with a clear creative flair and a dream to work in the fashion industry. Her parents and peers had persuaded her that a generic marketing degree would be better grounding for her as “no -one ever makes it in the fashion industry”.
It broke my heart to see such a talented, intelligent girl embrace fear so early on in life, and I sought to chat to the group one day about life in the creative industries, the ups and downs of working creatively, and my own experience.
This girl I bumped nto that day was about to fly to LA to do a stint with a fashion company, before starting her degree the year after. She was so happy. I was so happy. I may have cried just a little bit.
So, here is my bullet pointed list of advice for anyone at that stage in life right now, particularly since A-levels were announced last week and GCSE results are out today.
• The creative industries encompasses a HUGE array of job roles. Get digging and research as much as you can, there may be a job you have never even heard of that’s perfect for you.
• Nothing is as valuable as experience so get as much as you can as often as you can.
• Don’t get taken for a ride though. Control your internships/work experience so you are actually seeing what goes on, not being free labour.
• A learning curve can be steep, so don’t beat yourself up. Keep asking questions and learning all the way.
• Help yourself as much as possible. Swot up on software, theories, information you may need in your role.
• Stay one step ahead – I started freelancing in year 1 of my degree and when I left uni I had both a job and a list of clients.
• You may have some impoverished artist moments as you follow your dreams, but most succesful icons do.
• Keep yourself inspired; daily grind isn’t always the fun studio life you had imagined. Plug yourself in to stay fresh.
• Feed your inner creative child by going back to basics sometimes. You might be working on a huge brochure with text and layouts for work, but make time to take pictures, splash about with paint, keep yourself in your flow.
• Competition is very tough out there but it doesn’t mean you can’t carve your niche. Be yourself.
• Network, network, network! Meeting as many fellow creatives as you can, both online and off is invaluable. It;s what you know, but who you know means luck has more chances to strike.
• Keep current! Make sure you are tapped into industry news, stories trends and events.
• One career isn’t always the way – I currently have a variety of income streams and a really interesting CV. I don’t fit into a box, and I LOVE my work.
• Don’t put all your emphasis on education. Workplace experiences is often far more valuable than a piece of paper and what will be a huge stack of debt. Do whatever works for you.
• Remember that creativity isn’t just an “airy fairy” excuse for no career. We would have no books, houses, films, products, clothes, ANYTHING without designers and creative people.
• Don’t have an ego; this won’t help you at all. Self confidence is a good thing but arrogance can stay at home.
• Show your work well. Whether for uni or for a job role, we don’t want to see one self infulgent portfolio of skecthes for one project. Show what you can do!
• Be inventive with how you showcase yourself. Don’t say you are a creative individual then send a CV in Times New Roman 12 point text and no thought behind it.
• You will be paid for your creative brain and for coming up with ideas on time. Make sure you flex that muscle of creativity often to keep it moving.
Good luck, and ask any questions you like either in the comments or on the Dexterous Diva Facebook page. I would love to help.
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