5 Things I've Learned About Creative Careers Since Finishing University

August 31, 2022

Life changes drastically once you finish university and your career suddenly becomes a big priority. But navigating the field of creative work can be so much more complex than we expect. Whether it’s working in the media or becoming a graphic designer, if you’re still searching for a creative career, here are some tips that might help you along the way.

working a creative career

When Applying For Jobs, It Will Help You To Focus Your Energy In the Right Areas

Creative careers can be very competitive, with hundreds of people applying for one position. Despite being a junior role, the job might require you to already have hands-on experience and knowledge. The application process can be lengthy and more often than not there are two to three interviews, often included with a skills test and/or presentation. It’s easy to see how just one application can quickly become exhausting and take over your personal time.

To cut through the noise, focus your energy in the right areas.

  • Think about what kind of role and company you want to apply for. Decide this and look for specific buzzwords in job adverts. Regularly check company websites that you like for job applications.
  • Find a variety of popular and niche websites that post job adverts. Sometimes companies will use a generic job board website, and other times they’ll just post it on their own pages. Don’t miss out on a great job because you didn’t see it!
  • Look at a mix of large and small companies. Larger companies might be more desirable, but they’ll be vastly more competitive than a smaller, independent company.
  • Sometimes it really is about who you know, not what you know. If you know someone in the industry, why not reach out for advice? If not, focus some time on networking or reaching out to the hiring manager after applying.

More Often Than Not, A Portfolio Will Go A Long Way

Creative careers will often require you to already have some sort of experience, such as a portfolio of your work. Even if it’s a junior role, employers will want to see what you can do. Whether it’s writing an article, showing your design or artistry skills, or showcasing a video you created, they’ll want to see it. Even if they don’t specifically ask for this, it can go a long way to provide a link to work that you’ve already done.

To avoid having to whip something up every time you apply for a job, and to stand out from the crowd, put together a portfolio of work that you’re proud of. This doesn’t have to be something that you’ve been paid for, but it could be projects similar to what you’d like to do in the future!

Many Creatives Have More Than One Career Focus

Have you ever heard the saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket?‘  It’s not uncommon for creatives to have more than one career focus. Perhaps they have a day job and freelance in graphic design on the side. Or they work at a magazine, run their own podcast and do some illustrating on the side. The point is, you don’t have to choose just one discipline. You can always try things out by freelancing or splitting your work in different areas. This can help you develop your skill set, and provide you with time to find out what you truly enjoy working on.

What You Want For Your Career Might Change

It’s easy to finish your degree and feel an immense pressure to go into a job that directly relates to your field of work. This can feel much more confusing if you have a generic degree that could branch off into many areas. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to decide straight away. Sometimes people find themselves in roles quite different to what they expected, or they find that what they want changes over time. Try out things you think you’ll enjoy or have good enough experience in. That’s a good starting place.

Freelancing Can Be A Great Way Into Your Field Of Work

If your area of work is incredibly competitive and you’re struggling to get your foot in the door, or if you feel like you’d be better off doing it alone, freelancing can be a great way in to your field of work. You could do this alongside your day job and it could benefit you further down the line by providing yourself with more hands-on experience and developing contacts in your industry. It’s also a great way of trying out having more than one career focus!

Figuring out what you want to do after university is a daunting proposition, but if you’re looking for a creative career, there are so many things you can do to land your ideal job. These tips should help you on your path to figuring out what you want to do and how to do it!

Also by Annabel: 7 Things To Know Before Trying Out Rock Climbing

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Photo: Theme Photos via Unsplash

Annabel Easton
Annabel is a writer, marketer and illustrator. She runs an environmental account on Instagram called @econotes.mag and spends her spare time rock climbing, reading and exploring.


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