Creating Your Own Opportunities as a Creative Graduate
Chloe, winner of Most Accomplished Storyteller in our Content Maker’s Award and recent graduate, writes about creating opportunities for yourself in the workplace.
The problem with many graduate schemes is that they usually require a fair amount of experience – but you’ve only just left university and moved back home, so you don’t have the amount of experience you may need. Plus, the amount of opportunity may be sparse, especially if you’re living in a rural area.
But that’s no reason to give up. Yes, life after uni is daunting, but it is possible to navigate. If you’re passionate about what you want to do, then you can easily build the skills and find the experience needed for your career. It will just take a bit of hard work and determination. After all, as Benjamin Franklin said:
‘What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.’
Here are some tips to help you find and create your own opportunities, mapping your own way to your dream career:
Build a Reliable Network
It doesn’t matter what stage of your career you’re at – communication is a vital skill when it comes to your work life. Building a network can help you find more opportunities while improving your people skills.
Get started by reaching out to local professionals in your area – writing groups, book clubs, councillors, teachers, etc. Attend local events – if some are further away, hop on a train or a bus, and don’t forget to post about it on LinkedIn!
Even if those you contact don’t have a vast network themselves, they should be happy to offer you advice, letting you know of opportunities available. They can also provide you with references in the future.
Work Somewhere That’ll Provide You With an Insight into the Industry
Job hunting as a graduate can be painful. It took me six months to land my first job, and I know others who have taken longer. So, in the meantime, you’ll likely need a part-time job to fund your lifestyle.
Want to work in film or media? Try your local cinema. Want to be a journalist? I’m sure your local newspaper has openings. Want to be a chef? Every town in the country has a pub or restaurant that you can work for. While these seem like pretty basic jobs, they provide you with more of an insight into what customers want, the current trends, and so much more.
If a job showcases your interest in the industry, then employers will take note. The desired skills for employees aren’t based on experience alone – your future boss wants to see your passion, creativity, and initiative. By getting jobs related to the niche you want, you’ll have more chance than the person who’s not been involved in the industry whatsoever.
I cannot stress this enough. Show people how determined you are – show them that you’re willing to put in the effort. Don’t just do the bare minimum.
Still haven’t got a job? Volunteer. Enter competitions. Consider apprenticeships. Take online courses. Just don’t give up.
Furthermore, the more you can add to your CV, the better your chances are of getting hired.
Have you seen the movie La La Land? If not, you really should.
The reason I ask is that it orchestrates my point perfectly. In the film, no one other than Seb cares about jazz, but that doesn’t stop him from opening his own jazz club. Mia rarely gets call-backs from her acting auditions, so she writes a one-woman play which just happened to be seen by a casting director.
Neither character follows what was popular or traditional – they do their own thing and are rewarded greatly for it. And there’s no reason why that can’t happen for you.
Don’t just look for the opportunities already out there. See what else you can do. Start a YouTube channel, a blog, or a social media account that’s dedicated to your passion. Start your own newspaper or magazine or put on your own play. If you’re good with arts and crafts, create paintings, ornaments, or even furniture. Then run your own stall at your local fair, rent out a room in the village hall if you can, and inspire others with your craft.
We’re living in a generation that allows you to put yourself out there and do your own thing – hardly anyone expects traditional anymore.
But…Where do I Start?
There are plenty of opportunities. However, they can be tricky to find, competitive, or the whole job-hunting process simply feels overwhelming. So, you need to think outside the box, no matter where you live. To start you off, here are a few ideas for a handful of locations.
- The Covent Garden Performances are a great way to start if you’re pursuing an acting career.
- Film London helps fund emerging filmmakers, assisting with their productions as well as exhibiting their work.
- If you’re an artist-in-the-making and living with a disability, Shape Arts is an excellent resource for finding exhibition and funding opportunities.
- Creative Bath is a great networking organisation that provides its own awards for everyone, from students to even longstanding companies.
- Bath is also known for its sports scene, with many British Olympic athletes training in the city. Sign up for teams and enquire at local sports games to make a start.
- Leeds Creatives in Residence scheme is well known across the country for embedding grads into the swings of adult life.
- Leeds is also famous for being the city of co-working spaces. There are even a few local schemes in place which offer fresh grads six months of space to use as they please.
- For anyone wanting to work in the tech industry, the Leeds Digital Festival is a great way to start networking and getting involved.
- Creative Cardiff is a scheme that helps students find creative opportunities throughout the capital city.
- A new graduate programme, the Cardiff Capital Region Graduate Scheme, links grads with a variety of businesses across the city, offering paid graduate-level employment and qualifications.
- Finally, Cardiff is the home to BBC Wales, which offers internships across various industries that would look fantastic on your CV.
Hopefully, from this article, you can see that creating your own opportunities after graduation isn’t as daunting as it first seems. Even in the most remote areas of the country, there are still ways to utilise the skills you’ve obtained at university. They’ll allow you to get creative as well as potentially make a difference in your area.
We’re living in a world where everyone can demonstrate their talents in any shape or form, with support networks available every step of the way. This may be project funding, local events, or simply a valuable connection.
As a graduate, it’s up to you to make the most of these options and create opportunities for yourself, whether it’s just starting a blog or jumping right in and running your own business. The world really is your oyster, and it’s calling for people like you to kickstart the career you dream of.
I’m Chloe Price, a 23-year-old from Gloucestershire, I graduated from Bath Spa University with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Alongside my content marketing job at an SEO agency, I also run my own blog and Instagram account, while beta reading for soon-to-be-published authors. I’m passionate about the written word and the impact it can have, whether it’s just one person to an entire country – ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ is one of my favourite quotes. When I’m not writing, I can be found curled up with a book and a cup of tea, twirling my curly hair around my fingers.