October 31, 2011 § 3 Comments
We all remember that childhood conversation with our parents. The one where you’re told that you can be anything you want to be, just as long as you put your mind to it. I’ve always believed this to be true. After all, as children we are blank canvases, able to collect and create a multitude of experiences and opinions that make us ideal for our own futures. But thinking back to our childhood dreams, you have to wonder how plausible this idea is. Surely, it must be very few people that end up doing what they dreamed they would when asked the pivotal question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
I always wanted to be a marine biologist, convinced that this meant playing with dolphins all day rather than the reality of boats, labs and seawater. But if someone offered me the chance to be a marine biologist today, I’d have to turn them down. My sister on the other hand, answered that classic childhood question with similarly classic childish honesty. When she grew up, she wanted to be able “to drink Bacardi Breezers”.
Ask a class of kids today what they want to do when they grow up and you’ll get a lot of the same answers; the lures of pop-stardom and space exploration make for seemingly brilliant career choices. As adults we know the truth. With fame comes hard work, pressure and a near-constant hounding from the press; with space exploration comes isolation, intense physical conditions and an indelible helping of life-threatening danger. Not the best 9-to-5 career choices.
There comes a point in our lives, however, when our ability to do anything and to be anyone comes to pass. It’s difficult to say when that point is, and obviously with every door that we close on possible future careers, we open hundreds more with our commitment to a set route. When I chose to take no science subjects at A-level, I firmly closed the doors on medicine (and my misinformed dreams of marine biology), but opened up a world of opportunities to careers in the arts.
But at the age of 21, just four months after graduating, I already feel like my choices are incredibly narrowed. I’m a creative person and have a passion for advertising, for branding and for communications in general. In my ideal job I’d get to write and be a little bit creative every day. I have varied experience in all sorts of jobs; from writing yoghurt campaigns to tracking down financial criminals, as well as the more standard office and admin work along the way.
You’d think that this wide range of experience would make me an ideal candidate for any of the entry level marketing/design jobs I’ve applied for so far, and yet after several interviews I always hear that I’m a lovely girl, but just too creative for the job. Apparently creativity doesn’t work when you’re supposed to be doing admin day-to-day; I guess nobody wants a spreadsheet with panache. But do companies really need to employ the same old person to file, copy, print, repeat? Maybe employers are under-estimating the passion and commitment that today’s graduates have to break into their desired field, and can bring to any level of a business. We are well aware that we’ll have to start at the bottom, but are committed to making the most out of our opportunities to ultimately get to where we want to be.
All this raises an interesting issue. As a recent graduate, I’ve tried to make myself as employable as possible and am looking for an entry-level position to get into a company and progress. Yes, I have experience as a creative but that’s not all I’ve done, it’s not all I do, and I’m not even sure it’s all I want to do. I still feel very young, know that I have a lot to learn, and just want an opportunity to develop all my skills. What if I want to work as a project manager? A magazine journalist? A book critic? I have an excellent English degree and experience that makes me suitable for all these jobs – does my passion for advertising and my creativity mean I am any less capable of doing them?
So – can you really be anything? The job market today seems to think that you can’t. I’m determined to prove them wrong. Marine biology, here I come.
Just kidding. But arts, media, design, advertising, branding, marketing, PR, magazine and literary world – look out!
As seen on The Guardian Careers website:
April 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I guess I should have seen it coming. With the mass gathering of extended family at Easter, and the nearing prospect of the end of my degree, questions about what I was going to do with my life should have seemed inevitable. For the most part, people didn’t ask me too many (although this too hints at my mum pre-warning them not to, which isn’t good either).
I’m getting really frustrated with all this pressure as my degree comes to a close, although I know that most of it is self-inflicted. Right now, I need to be focusing on finishing my essay and revising for the up-coming exams and yet whenever I think about the end of my degree, I feel the need to research employers, look for jobs and internships to ensure that something will be sorted for when I graduate. I can’t bear the idea of sitting around doing nothing. And knowing that my family will silently (for the most part) be disappointed.
I have done some damage control though. Booking a visit to my friend Laura, who’s on her year abroad in Spain, will not only give me a well-earned holiday but some serious down-time. In fact, I’m ridiculously exicted about it. It will be lovely to see her and give me some time, free from career concerns, to relax in the Spanish sunshine. Having booked this trip for the end of June, I feel that gives me a little more time to keep pursuing more career options, looking for placements and jobs that start in July rather than the second I graduate.
I’m just so looking forward to the time when a extended, hardly-ever seen second-cousin asks me “So what are you doing after University then?”, I can quickly reply, “Oh, I’ve got a ………………. at this amazing company called ………………… doing ………………………………………………………………………………………..”
I guess for now, all I need to focus on is my degree and filling in those dreaded blanks.
In the words of my mum, “Everything’ll be fine in the end”.
April 18, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Once again, after spending too many hours trawling the internet looking at advertising-related things instead of doing my essay, I have developed yet more career confusion.
Having decided that I almost definitely wanted to work in the creative field of Advertising, I have been focused on pursuing this for the past few days (quite excessively) by reading books, blogs and looking up post-grad courses. According to the IPA website, the best way to become a Copywriter is to study BA English, and then either do a post-graduate course in Creative Advertising or Copywriting, or develop a portfolio on your own and meet a partner through initiatives such as D&AD Talent Pool. For some reason, in all my recent soul-searching, I’d completely overlooked the second option, and instead have been focusing on how to raise the money to do a post-grad course next year.
I realise now that that makes very little sense. Why spend a year saving up funds to do a course to build a portfolio and potentially meet a creative partner, when you can spend a year building a portfolio and meeting a creative partner by other and more organic means? There are so many more options than just the D&AD Talent Pool: groups on Facebook, hashtagging on Twitter, and other organised events run by NABS and The Talent Business throughout the year to enable young professionals to meet up. Besides, you can also go to ad agencies for a book crit on your own (and while there’s a chance they’ll place you if you’re good enough) they’ll definietely be able to advise you on where to go to meet like-minded people.
Clearly, this has been a bit of a mini revelation to me. I feel that things seem – while perhaps slightly more daunting – all the more closer and useful to my career aspirations. I know that I don’t just have to kill a year now, but can spend it proactively pursuing my dream job as a practicing copywriter. It probably makes more sense now to look into courses to learn things such as html coding, Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver. I have a small amount of experience in these, but definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable enough building a book or an online portfolio without some more training, whether that be a formal course or just some extensive library/google research.
Maybe these can be added to my ever growing list of graduation presents? Now, I must go and do some more work on my essay to ensure I actually do graduate – what a waste of time all my career-pondering would be if I procrastinate one day too many.