The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
Guest blogger, Rowena Taylor is a music graduate studying for an MA in Arts Management and Policy and will be writing her dissertation on the lack of guidance for creative graduates.
Did you secure your dream job straight after graduation? Universities often use graduate employment figures to entice prospective students. But how valuable are these figures when after years of studying there is no guarantee you will secure a job?
I’m sure my story is one that many can relate to. As a recent music graduate who has tallied up some good experience within the creative industries, I have spent the last 3 years working in Engineering. Whenever I tell people this, it’s usually met with a small giggle followed by the inevitable question… “Why?”
The current economic climate has increased competition, making things tough before you’ve even begun! And when you’ve spent hours applying for jobs and getting nowhere it can often result in a bad ‘application experience’.
The ‘application experience’ includes everything from seeking a job, to the aftermath of an interview. Once you’ve left the sheltered theoretical life as an undergraduate, you are alone. Without proper guidance many of us end up in graduate limbo. Learning about the ‘application experience’ should begin at University; and after the time devoted and the money spent on each institution, I can’t help but think that these foundations should be rooted before you graduate.
During your final year at University, you need to understand what you should be applying for and how to go about doing it. Meaningful and tailored careers advice would be particularly valuable for creative undergraduates. As my University tended to concentrate on students pursuing careers within the commercial sector, the careers advice I received was practically non-existent.
The targeted organisation also has a part to play in your ‘application experience’. The amount of times I’ve sent out my CV and never received a response, or left an interview not knowing what I could have done better to secure a job I didn’t get. Giving feedback should become a compulsory part of the recruitment process for all organisations inviting applicants to interview.
In order to market yourself successfully to potential employers, and to make your ‘application experience’ as relevant as possible, you need to be completely aware of your skill set. But without the right advice and feedback how are you supposed to prepare? There are schemes, initiatives and guidance to support your application journey – you just need to know where to look.
The creative industries offer a number of internships and placements but this often means unpaid work. Although these opportunities provide graduates with a fantastic learning experience and a valuable networking platform, it’s highly likely that the free hours you lovingly devote might not lead to anything concrete.
When you have no contacts in the industry it’s up to you to secure a job. Since starting university in 2005 I have held 6 jobs and only 1 has been secured through interview. For me, “it’s not what you know – it’s who you know!”
If ill prepared, life in graduate limbo can be disappointing. By implementing some small but vital changes, the creative application process can be improved. Even if a job is not secured at the end of each ‘application experience’, you can be confident that the constructive advice, knowledge and feedback you receive will all contribute in a positive way towards the next job you apply for.