Rethinking Creative Career Planning

Considering a career in the creative industries can be a scary thought for undergrads, particularly after the pandemic. But how do you begin to plan a career which people often consider ‘risky’? This post can offer you some reassurance and tips for thinking about your creative career.

I recently met with one of Warwick’s careers team – you can do the same here – to ask for their career planning advice. As a humanities student that only really knows that I don’t want a corporate job, planning my future seems almost too overwhelming to begin. However, I received some excellent advice and reassurances from the advisor I met, who helped me completely rethink my approach to creative careers.

Your Career Doesn’t Have to be Linear

This was a difficult statement to hear, but an obvious one. As someone whose parents have worked the same job since they were teens, my understanding of careers was very much that you start one job after leaving education and stay there until you retire. My careers meeting completely changed my perspective on that. It’s important to remember that most Humanities or Creative careers can lead down many different paths, and jobs may crop up that you weren’t expecting. The careers consultant I saw encouraged having an opportunistic approach, taking advantage of “planned happenstance”. This simply means having an organised and forward-thinking approach to your career, but trusting that opportunities will arise in time.

Rethinking Creative Career Planning

Plan…Not to Plan

Taking an opportunistic approach comes with a downside: it’s near-impossible to properly plan your career. I’m someone who likes to plan every aspect of my life, so the thought of leaving my job to chance was a terrifying thing to hear. In order to give yourself some control, my advisor suggested having a notebook or spreadsheet to organise your thoughts. This can include setting yourself deadlines, such as when you would like to have researched postgraduate options by, or an afternoon set aside to browse a jobs website. Although these might seem small, sometimes it’s enough to regain a sense of control and organisation over your future.

Rethinking Creative Career Planning

Experience and Connections are Privileges

I have always been terribly jealous of those students that know exactly what industry they will work in after they graduate, and have already completed several internships at the company they will apply to. I’m also a little bitter towards those students with family and friends in high places, who they can contact for work experience. However, the careers consultant reminded me that these qualities are definitely privileges, and the large majority of people won’t have those connections. While LinkedIn can certainly be used to create new connections for yourself, it’s important to remember that if experience is 100% necessary the job description will say so. Otherwise, you have just as much of a right to apply for a position as those with 10+ years of industry experience and connections!

Rethinking Creative Career Planning

Not Everything Needs to Come from One Place

This was perhaps the scariest piece of advice to hear, but was probably the most important. From an undergraduate point of view, it feels urgent for me to get a job after graduating that is full-time and produces 100% of my income. However, the creative job market has been offering more and more part-time work, forcing us to lean towards that non-linear career path. It is perfectly sustainable to have multiple streams of income coming from more than one job, provided you aren’t overworking yourself. It may feel like a risky path to take but can certainly pay off with work that you enjoy and are passionate about.

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