Mission Possible: Breaking into the Creative Sector
Young or old, getting your big break into the notoriously competitive creative sector can often feel impossible.
Following high school, many of us were pushed into a ‘sensible’ university degree, and onto a ‘sensible’ career. But as the years clock past, these ‘sensible’ careers in stable jobs begin to bore, and more and more people feel the urge to follow their passion into the creative sector – only to be met with a closed door.
On the other end of the spectrum are the younger generation, who – despite infinite talent and solid creative tertiary education – are struggling to get their foot in the door with agencies or companies.
So is finding your place the creative sector an impossible dream? Absolutely not. Here’s how to map out your journey to the creative role of your dreams in three easy steps.
Step One: Call, call, call – and call again.
There is no insider secret, or undercover formula to breaking in – it is, quite simply, about putting in the elbow grease to get your name out there. Make a list of the people, agencies, or companies that you would love to work for, and pick up the phone! Don’t be set back by a rejection – creative teams are always looking for fresh faces and new skill sets. You will strike gold soon enough.
Step Two: Meet with anyone, and everyone.
If the creative sector is all about networking, then get out there and network! Almost all of my recruitment assignments have come through existing connections with friends, friends of friends, or old work contacts I’ve kept in touch with. Call up some people who you admire, or would hope to someday work with – and ask them for a coffee. No email or phone call will ever be able to beat a good old face-to-face meeting.
It is a growing trend in the creative industries to seek out an unofficial mentor, and meet regularly to get their advice on projects, roles, or career strategies. They will undoubtedly be flattered to be asked, and provided you don’t demand too much of them, happy to help.
Step Three: Get all the experience you can.
There has been some major gripes lately about unpaid work experience in the creative industries, and the exploitation of interns. Well, to be honest, getting as much experience as you can is the best possible chance you have at entering the creative sector – and you don’t have to do it forever.
Unlike technical industries in which skills are easily transferred via instruction or education, learning your way around a creative role is almost entirely via osmosis. You need to learn the right ways to communicate, the processes and procedures, dealing with clients, and honing your craft. Time spent within an agency, in the department you one day hope to work in, will bring invaluable insight.
Various work experience roles include, but are not limited to:
- co-op programs
- holiday work
- work experience
Honorable mention: Industry-specific study centers.
As someone who broke into the creative sector quite late in life (27), I know first hand how difficult it can be. So how did I do it? Ad School. For those not familiar with the Ad School or Award school institutions, check them out here:
These creative-industry-specific schools are in every major city, are industry recognised, and are a wonderful fast track to the real, hands on training you need to be successful in breaking into your chosen creative role. Teachers are sourced from award winning agencies. But you should note Award School is competitive to get into and is for serious creative wanna-be’s only!
I personally attended Sydney AdSchool, enrolling in their Advertising Foundations & Account Management courses, and later a unit in Strategic Planning Principles. I completed the first course whilst working in an integrated agency unpaid, for 3 months, in order to break in. Doing an AdSchool course is great to teach you the fundamentals and to give you the knowledge. If you can marry this up with practical experience – it’s a great way in.
So get out there, and be brave! Determination and resilience is what shapes the world’s greatest creative talents – and it will propel YOU from daydream to reality.
To read more from Justine Fenyes, founder of creative recruitment & search agency Beckon, you can visit her blog.