Smart advice from Hello Creative speakers to help you get started in the creative industries
Dear Hello Creatives Network
We are enjoying our creative arts course at Ayrshire College. The worry we have is that at the end of this year or next year we will be moving on to a job, university or starting our own business. We appreciate any tips you can give us to help us get started in our career.
You are in a good place right now and your lecturers and student services team will help you take the next steps in your career journey. Here are our ten top tips we picked out from our speakers at our launch event.
1. Be persistent – push to get the opportunities you want. There will be some opportunities you will get through College, recognise them and take them with both hands. You never know where things lead to. However most of time you need to make your own. So get out there, meet people, tell them what you want to do with your career, and ask them for an opportunity that will help you get there. (This advice was a major theme at our launch)
2. Nurture your creative talent. You can do that by being inspired and interested in what’s going on around you, keep up to date with industry trends and practice and develop new skills to underpin your knowledge. Read your trade press and search online for topics that are current in your industry.
Mary Cahill, Creative Director Gosh Creative
3. Do your research into the industry you want to get into. Find out what’s happening, who are the key players and make contact. Knock on some doors and let them know you exist, talk to them and ask them to take a chance on you.
Emma Pollock, recording artist and joint founder of Chemikal Underground Records and Chem19 Studios in Blantyre.
4. Learn new skills to enhance your qualifications. In my industry everyone starts at the bottom in TV – usually as a runner. Look to see who/what needs your help. Be responsible and be responsive. The key skill in this industry is communications. Most of all you need to be a great writer. So practice, find a voice and learn how to be a compelling storyteller. You’ll need an inquisitive mind and be genuinely interested.
Mick McAvoy, Head of Factual, Two Rivers Media
5. Preparation is key to get taken on for any job. When you get an interview, make sure you do lots of research and have ideas ready. Spend time doing your research well, so you can understand what is needed, and you can say what you can bring to them. Know your facts and figures and show interest in their project.
David McKinlay, Freelancer in Broadcast Production
6. Be the best you can be. Starting with your course of study – work hard and give your best. Find out what you are good at and hone your skills to be the best. Yes, you will need to be flexible and turn your hand to many things, but find the skill that can make you stand out from the crowd and practice, practice, practice. (Steven Cosh, Director Cosh Niven)
7. Get a work ethic. It is not just your qualifications, skills and experience that will get you the job you want. You need to fit with the team and have great employability skills. By this we mean, turn up on time, be reliable, be helpful, respectful and supportive to your team, be enthusiastic and show willing for extra work. You need to demonstrate these qualities to your current employer / lecturer so they can write you a great reference. Be memorable.
8. Have a positive attitude – people buy people – so make sure you are known as a positive, flexible, responsive person with a can do attitude. Say, YES to opportunities and work out how you are going to do them later.
9. Join LinkedIn and start networking! Ask people you have worked for/with, for references and recommendations. Start to create some posts and get yourself known as someone who is interested and passionate about what you do. Share your work projects and learning, ask for help when you need it. Search for people you would like to connect with, and say Hello. Cast your net as wide as you can, every time you meet someone new – connect to them on LinkedIn. If you have any guest speakers in your class or if you go in visits to the workplace – add them in too. (Look out for our LinkedIn for Creatives workshop coming soon)
10. Get relevant work experience. Yes, you might have a busy life studying, working at the weekend for much needed income, but there is always time you can make for work experience. What can you offer? One week during Easter holidays, one month during the summer holidays, one day a week when you are not in College? Approach an employer with your offer of when you are free and then say what you can bring to their business. Ask for a project to work on. You’ll be surprised with the positive response you get.
And if it’s a negative reply – don’t give up - ask someone else until you do get a positive response. Good luck!
Shelagh McLachlan (Head of Marketing and Front of House, Ayrshire College)