How to prepare for your creative career
Uni’s over, feeling stuck?
So you’ve finished uni, you’ve got your degree and it’s time to start your creative career. Feeling stuck or overwhelmed? You’re not alone. The Created coaches have got you covered with some simple steps on how to get clear on what you want and how to get there, so you can begin the career you want.
For many of us, finishing uni is an exciting but challenging time filled with uncertainty about the future and the worry of having to earn a living pretty pronto. With so many creative career options, and so much competition, knowing where to start can feel almost impossible.
The good news is, there are a few things you can think about to get a better understanding of what you want so that you can prepare. We’ve outlined four simple exercises to get you unstuck when it comes to deciding on the right creative career path for you.
1. Know your values
First up is knowing what’s important to you about the kind of career you want to have. The creative industries offer all kinds of working environments, and depending on what you value, you are likely to thrive better in some than others. Understanding what you value before you search for work is a good way to get clear on the right kind of environment for you.
Do you want to work for a commercial agency, a post-production house or in-house for a brand? A huge network company or a small start-up? Freelance or permanent? How important is making a difference or making money? Want to learn new skills? What kind of people do you want to work with? Which environment do you enjoy working in?
You won’t know all the answers to all these questions – that’s ok – and knowing them won’t guarantee you’ll find the perfect job, but starting to think about what’s important to you will help you find a steer. It helps to start with what has worked for you in the past:
- What kind of people do you like to hang out with?
- Who do you admire professionally? What is it about them that impresses you?
- What kind of environment have you enjoyed working in most? What is it about that environment that gets you going?
Are there any themes or patterns in your answers? Once you have some clarity on these things, you can start to look for employers that share these same values and see what opportunities are on offer.
2. Identify your strengths
This may sound simple, but we’re not talking about your technical skills here. We’re talking about the way you do things. In other words, what qualities you bring to the work you do, over and above your knowledge of design or the software packages you use?
Having clarity and awareness of your strengths is a great way to prepare for interviews – it can help you feel confident and give you more examples and scenarios to talk about. Creative employers want to see you the person, as well as your portfolio, and understand how you go about your work.
Are you adventurous, decisive, explorative? Empathic, logical, curious? We all have a unique set of strengths that make what we do unique, and knowing what yours are can really help you know what to look for in your career.
Recognising your strengths can be as simple as asking yourself a few questions. We tend to get the most enjoyment out of life when we are using our strengths, so this is a good place to start:
- When have you felt or performed at your best?
- What was it that made you feel that way? What actions were you taking at the time?
- How would you describe yourself in that situation?
- How would your friends/family/colleagues describe you in that situation?
These simple questions can provide you with some great insight around how you do what you do, and what qualities you’ll want to continue to develop in your career.
3. Have a vision for the future
It’s impossible to know where to start unless you know where you want to end up.
Having a vision for the future, doesn’t then mean that your life plan is set in stone, far from it. It just gives you something exciting to aim towards, which will focus your efforts and help you stay on track.
Doing a short visualisation exercise can really help to crystallise things.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
- Take yourself forwards in time in your mind to a point in your life where you have everything you need to make you happy
- What is your life like? Where do you live? What do you do?
- Think about a typical day at this point in time in your life. Where do you work? Who are you working with? What projects do you have on? What occupies your time during your day? What have been your biggest achievements so far in your career?
- Now make any notes about what you imagined
Once you have envisioned where you want to get to, you are significantly more likely to get there because your brain has already made some of the neural connections it needs. You’re on more familiar territory – or so your brain believes. It’s important to keep checking in with your vision – things change, and you have free will to choose again at any time!
4. Look for career opportunities
Once you’ve spent some time on steps one, two and three, you should start to feel clearer on what’s important to you in your career and what might help you thrive. This isn’t about a quick fix, this is about gradually building your self awareness so you have a better sense of where you want to go.
Use your learnings from these steps to start looking for opportunities that allow you to grow in any of the areas you’ve identified as important. Employers that fit with your values; roles that will allow you to use your strengths. Talking to your mentor at this point is crucial because they’ve been there and can give you advice on the best place to start looking for those opportunities. They might be in places you wouldn’t expect!
We know that starting your career is a challenging and exciting time for you. Our courses and resources are designed to help you make that start as successful as it can be. Got a question? We’d love to help. Ping us a line or drop in to our offices for a cuppa.
Best of luck!
In episode 4 of our How I Got Here podcast series, we chat to Motion Designer Yukari about her career journey.
In this article Created coach Sarah Creevey talks through the basics of goal setting and how to get clear on what you want.
Our CEO and founder Dom Davenport dissects the power of flow for creatives and how you can construct the perfect conditions for it.