Careers Future Student-made

Gaining experience for creative careers whilst at university

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Pursuing a career in the creative industries is a notoriously uneasy feat. Unlike its counterparts in Business, Law and Healthcare, routes into the industry are much less straightforward and signposted. 

One aspect most industries share is the importance of experience. This is harder to come by in creative industries, but by no means impossible. Whilst there is a lot of experience to be had from part-time jobs, society work and volunteering, whilst at university, finding more direct industry related experience might be valuable in some cases. 

This post details some example activities and places to look for experience, whilst studying, to help achieve some of that specific experience in some unconventional ways.

1.Use student platforms and societies.

There are many options to gain experience in a variety of creative jobs right here on campus. From student-run media – such as FuseFM, FuseTV and The Mancunion, offering experience in Journalism, TV and Radio. To societies such as Photography, Fashion, Drama, Musical theatre and Content creators (to name a few) which can offer both experience, bodies of work to put in a portfolio and show interest on your CV. 

There’s also the University’s Content Ambassador programme if you’re interested in writing/journalism, content creation, video creation and editing – this is a wonderful opportunity to build a portfolio and also receive training in different skills.

Black Video Camera Turned on

2. Use your own media – blogs, social media accounts.

The next easily accessible option to gain experience is to create and use your own media. Start a blog, a YouTube channel, a social media account for your portrait photography/documentary videos/fashion business. This gives you more control over what you create and allows you to tailor experience for a specific role you would like to pursue.

You can use this to build and showcase industry-relevant skills and passion. If, for example, you’re a keen cinephile, like me, you can start a film blog where you review and talk about film releases and create a portfolio for a career in film journalism. Living in Manchester is the perfect place for this, with cinema tickets at VUE Printworks and Odeon Great Northern, coming in at a fiver compared to other parts of the UK! 

3. Create your own briefs and collaborate with others.

In a similar vein to using your own media, you can create your own briefs to share on your platforms and bulk up a portfolio. ‘Kihmberlie’ on Instagram, is the perfect example of this, having wanted to pursue a career in modelling and not having any luck, she began creative directing, styling and shooting mock magazine covers and campaigns. They are truly incredible and best embodies the idea; if there isn’t an opportunity, make one! Whilst you’re at it, outsource jobs and invite other students/friends/family to collaborate with you, to build their experience.

Start a small magazine for you and a couple of friends to showcase their work; Start a band, organise a gig and have someone volunteer to publicise it, do the VFX, manage etc. if you wish to pursue a career in music; self commission a graphic design project for XYZ company to promote their new product… the list goes on. 

Collaboration possibilities are endless whilst at uni, we are lucky to have one of the largest most diverse student bodies of any UK university so make the most of it. Contact the Photography society or anyone interested in photography, find a fashionable friend who wants to build a styling portfolio and write about it on your blog. 

The exchange benefits everyone in a relatively easy, budget-friendly way. It gives you all experience working to a fictional brief which is very valuable.

Two Men and Woman Sitting Next to Each Other

4. Media Club, Careers service and the Alumni network.

Last but not least, gaining experience and insight through networking. Networking is arguably more important than experience when it comes to the creative industries. 

When it comes to networking look no further than the Careers service, specifically the Media Club and The Alumni Network. The Media Club advertise specialist careers events for creative industries on campus as well as direct you to jobs and experience available in the industry. Whilst the alumni network is a database of UoM alumni in a variety of industries who can offer a mentor/mentee relationship and services such as CV reviews.

It would also be worthwhile to regularly check the Careers Link website for ‘Meet the professional events’ themed around an industry you’d like to enter. They offer a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded students (for possible collaborations) and meet alumni to gain invaluable contacts. 

Best of luck!

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