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How to kick start your creative career whilst still at university

20th April 2016

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David Wakeford, Senior Employability Officer at Arts University Bournemouth, offers his top tips to help you land a creative career.

When we were younger, most of us harboured ambitions to do something creative when we grew up. Whether this was acting, drawing or designing, we all had creative ambitions. However, when it comes to finding a job and building a career, many of us let our creative aspirations slide. Indeed, according to research we’ve undertaken for Arts University Bournemouth, 63% of people, on reflection, wish they were in a career where they could make more use of their creative skills.

That’s a lot of people who are not completely happy with their career choice. With that in mind, here’s some advice to help you when it comes to ensuring you land the creative career of your dreams.

Hone your skills

Use your time at university to hone your creative skills. Take advice on board, both from tutors and peers. Universities are some of the most creative spaces in the country, so be open to new ideas. I’m constantly impressed with the creative thinking and new ways of exploring different subject matter our students present. Also, don’t be afraid of asking people to show you new things, whether they be lecturers or students.

Create a portfolio of your work and keep it updated

It is likely you have one already, and you may have even had to submit one to get into your chosen course at university, but don’t neglect your portfolio. Creating a body of work is essential to show off your skills to any potential employer, no matter what area you want to pursue your future career in.

Your portfolio should be an ever-evolving body of work that exists both offline and online. The internet has transformed how we interact with others, use it to engage with your creative peers and put your best foot forward when it comes to future employment.

More so now than ever before, potential employers are Googling candidates before they decide to hire them. The internet is a great platform to establish yourself and show off your skills, so make sure you’re using it wisely.


While being present online is fantastic, it can only take you so far, and there is nothing more powerful than meeting someone face to face. Once you graduate, the likelihood is that you’ll find yourself in the same position as thousands of other graduates – all chasing after the same jobs.

Networking and making connections will pay off in the long term; while your uncle's best friend's brother-in-law isn’t going to hand you a job on a plate, he may be just the person who knows someone looking to hire a graduate with your skills. Personal recommendations should never be underestimated.

Spruce up your CV with some freelance (paid or unpaid) experience

Finally: in today’s world, securing a job is often impossible without prior experience. Whether you like it or not, companies always prefer to take on a candidate that is already working. It shows potential employers that you have the industry knowledge and come pre-equipped with key skills.

Keep your CV up-to-date and while at university see if you can land yourself some freelance work, even if it’s just work experience during the holidays. It shows you are proactive and hardworking and will help you stand out against other candidates post-graduation.


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