The value of creative careers events

 14 April 2016

Careers advisers across the nations are faced with an unenviable task. They do an outstanding job, but it is unreasonable to expect this unique breed of connected mentors to know every nuance of every industry. That’s where careers events come in.

"I was impressed by these students who demonstrated a sense of marketing savvy and visual awareness beyond their years." Image: Simon Mills

The careers event I recently took part in was a residency as a Creative & Cultural Skills brand identity career panellist. This involved two days of intense coaching and interrogation, which really made me recognise the value of creative careers events to careers advisers, teachers and students alike.

The residency began with me both dispensing and absorbing best practice industry advice at Belfast Metropolitan College, Belfast, and North West Regional College, Derry. After this I was delighted to address queries from hundreds of 13-18 year old students and careers advisers.

Career questions from students

As part of an assembled team of creative entrepreneurs and professionals, we heard quite a few questions regarding typical application processes for careers in creative industries.

Careers advisers need much more exposure to real people working in the industry.

I was impressed by the students who demonstrated curiosity, a sense of marketing savvy and visual awareness beyond their years. 

The students have many years to refine their practice and approach, and the industry will again change beyond recognition by the time they progress into working life. What struck me is that they had a sense of the jobs out there. They professed a desire to work in fields such as:

Yet both they and their careers advisors hadn’t the first idea about how to land a job in these areas.

Across the entire creative industry panel, our advice was remarkably similar. Anyone actively pursuing a career in the creative industries should know that competition is fierce and any communication with potential employers should be carefully considered and impeccably presented.

As a result of hearing the questions and giving advice, I was galvanised. So I wrote my own definitive guide to getting a break in design for Creative Choices.

The future of creative careers

My time on the panel made me realise a few things. One is that young people and the careers advisers that are there to guide them need much more exposure to real people working in the industry.

These students demonstrated curiosity, a sense of marketing savvy and visual awareness beyond their years.

Another is how lucky I have been to have enjoyed and endured almost 13 years in the design industry. 

Keeping a creative job is hard work. Any job in this vibrant sector should be cherished, nurtured, regularly redefined and routinely reinvented.

Then, and only then, may it be loved and enjoyed for many rewarding years to come.


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