I’ve been asked to write a little bit about my journey from Studenthood to the ‘real world’ thus far and I hope I can give you a little insight on what you might expect once the heavenly bubble of University life bursts and leaves a sticky residue of hope and fear on you.
First thing’s first that I cannot stress enough – MAKE THE MOST OF IT NOW, you have access to so many valuable resources at your library / in your tutors brains / the media equipment store!! Not to mention the great amount of networking just at the tip of your fingers. I’d recommend talking to fellow students, finding those with similar ideas to you, and joining forces to build up a solid portfolio… I didn’t (very much) and I regret it.
However! If you find yourself failing to do this as the pull of the duvet hugs you into ‘afternoon naps’ and the Lincoln nightlife bleeds your overdraft dry, I wouldn’t worry too much – because those days also won’t last very long.
This increasingly happened to me in my third year (the wrong way round I know) but I compensated by putting a heck of a lot of effort (if last minute) into my coursework and production projects. It paid off, and I dragged my grade from a 2:1 in my second year, to a glorious 1st!
1 month later I took my first leap into the real world by inter-railing (budget train travelling) solo for a month and it was a very much needed holiday / passage of freedom, where I could put my skills of communication, pre-planning, improvisation, networking, eating and drinking to the test. My confidence blossomed during this period but I was still in the bubble, floating higher and higher towards the sun…
At this point I floated back to Lincoln to rehearse with the Lincoln Company as we prepared to put on several shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one being Sweeney Todd that I performed in. Two weeks later I still felt like a student, sharing a house with fellow Lincolnites, enjoying the Fringe Festival whilst working day in day out to promote and produce 6 shows throughout the whole of August.
Shortly following this, our Graduation Ceremony abruptly arrived and it was a proud day for all as family & friends joined us in the beautiful cathedral to receive our diplomas, throw caps into the air and take photos destined for frames…
POP! Bubble burst. We all dispersed, most going back to the family home. And the questions that had been suppressed all summer washed in with the tide of ‘real world’.
What am I going to do now? Further education? Further travel? Work? Find a job in my field of study? Find a job in something completely different? Where do I begin?! Where do I live? Do I stay at home?… Etc. et al.
As I stayed at home with my parents contemplating my fate, fate came knocking on my door, not all that politely either as my Nan became very ill (she lives in London). The long-term plan had always been to move to London as the central hub for Media-related work, but I hadn’t planned on going so soon! Yanked from my dreary temp day job in a post-room I moved to London to care for my Nan who was in hospital. It’s amazing what location can do for your luck in the employment world, I literally spent 1 day on Gumtree, applying for a few jobs and internships. Two days later I had an interview with a magazine for a 1 week internship!
Now the key at this stage is to make an impression, I did the internship, and didn’t just sit quietly getting on with assigned tasks in the corner. I asked questions, made suggestions, listened to discussions bouncing around the office and made an effort to get to know some of the bods that worked there. One of the questions I remembered asking several times was, “So how do I get a job here?” – that was my foot in the door. My interest had been stated, I was obviously pro-active, got on well with the team… before I knew it I was in Sales training.
Eugh! Sales! That’s not media! – you may cry… well I’d wormed my way into a magazine, that exhibited at Business Shows and interviewed successful entrepreneurs on a weekly basis. In my first week there I had interviewed Caprice (American glamour model turned businesswoman), promoted the magazine at an exhibition, taking on new subscribers and generating advertising leads, oh and landed a job.
From there on it’s almost a case of defining your own role, in a small company this is much easier to do, as I began to suggest we added interactive elements to packages for our advertisers – video interviews, podcasts, etc. I confidently carved (blagged) my way into doing this and now I’m an account manager + interactive media manager = no more cold calling for me! Yipee!
That’s the short of it anyway. A summary of my advice? Be proactive, take opportunities, you never know what they might lead to, and create your own opportunities, think about your skills and how you can apply them, and get to know as many people as you can – I got this far because I built a good rapport with my colleagues and they put a good word in for me (you never know how important a person can be in a company at first, they could be lifelong friends with the boss!).
That’s only the beginning of the story! I’m now also working on a website in my free time with someone I met at the Business Show, to do with apps (Top Secret!)… Producing two music videos with a company headed up by someone I met randomly at a gig… and working in a pub to pay for my London lifestyle – it is really that expensive! Networking everywhere is the single most effective way of finding opportunities.
If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to answer them, just drop me a tweet @Sylvietta1