Tomm’s Employability Tips ft. UCA Creative Enterprise

The real world is looming! The mad dash to get interviews and polish your CV is right around the corner, but thanks to your friends in University for the Creative Arts' Creative Enterprise Department and myself, you're gonna be a pro with a chill attitude and job prospects that shout "Move over stars! I'm shooting for something further away and more awesome yet equally realistic for my skill set, which is also impressive" Or something to that effect.

So follow these steps, click the pink words and get in contact with Creative Enterprise, and you'll be fully prepared to blow away the competition.


  1. Who are you?Your first task in increasing your employability is by marketing yourself, they say people make up their mind about you in the first 10 seconds, so that first intro really counts. Never try to be something you're not, because you don't have as much experience being that person as you do being yourself. Though It helps to be mindful and patient when making first impressions, lose your ego, be happy and have a good eye for detail. No employer wants you to be a yes man, nor do they want you to be silent when it comes to giving opinions or constructive criticisms.
  2. Know where the path startsEmployment, and your career, doesn't necessarily have to start in a job interview. Many young creatives have gone straight into successful self-employment or collaboration with fellow students after university, so partner up and make a name for yourself while you're here because you'll never know what path you'll end up taking, or who you'll take it with. Future employment could come from an old classmate referring you because they knew you were capable of something they're not.
  3. Stop Collaborate and ListenAt UCA you are surrounded by an estimated 5,200 students, all devoted to an artistic practice, you're rubbing shoulders with an almost ceaseless source of influence and collaboration, when presented with these possibilities your potential is equally as limitless. Alumni Gareth Edwards (Director of Godzilla, Rogue One) Stated he wouldn't be where he is now if he hadn't collaborated with a student studying digital effects (How cool is that?) So if you ever have free time or a pet project you want to do then get out there, recruit some fellow students from as many courses as you can find and create a portfolio that shows your passion, adaptability and resourcefulness. Become the Student that stands out and unites others in the pursuit of art.
  4. The proof behind the pudding... and the portfolioEmployers will want to see your portfolio, but most (just like your assessors at UCA) want to see you have a detailed and methodical Research and Development Book behind it (I'll admit I was awful at this). Your final pieces are all well and good but the brightest sign of a passionate and effective creative is the thought that is put into the project. They'll want to see what you've learnt, that you've understood what worked and that the next piece you create will be better than the last. Your communication of assessment criteria, your own creative criticism, research and display of technical skills is what will put you at the top of the list in your employers or clients eyes.
  5. The mindfulness of youNever, ever, be afraid to email somebody (Or talk to them for that matter). You don’t know if they have space for an intern or a soft spot for employing students and young creatives. They say it's all about who you know, and knowing doesn't come easy, so google your dream studio or job, send an email when you're ready to and see what happens. Even if only 1 out 10 reply you're still making progress. Besides, what are they going to do? Think less of you for trying to help your career? The creative industry may seem like a dog-eat-dog world, but it's more like a coalescence of interknit families, studios, workshops and businesses; It's one big industry sharing contacts and information as well as employees. The creative industry is also the largest on the planet, and one of the only to not shrink during the recession.
  6. "What is an ocean if not a multitude of droplets", Or "Every little helps"?When it comes to your CV every little extra detail helps, you’ll often be competing with dozens of other young professionals with practically the same qualifications as you. And they WILL pick the most accredited, so grab up all the work experience, volunteering awards and extra skills that you can. Go to extra workshops to add new skills to your work, attend lectures you wouldn't normally or offer your services to local charities. This kinda' feeds into No.5.
  7. Your PresenceBe personable, It may be tempting to suck up to a possible employer but no reasonable person in a position of power likes being treated as a better (take it from me) “People are people” so be yourself, be engaging and let your passion for your craft shine through.“Presentation is one of the most important aspects in attracting opportunities...of yourself, your work and portfolio. Confidence can come with enjoying a little bit of personal success, but to improve you need to welcome constructive criticism."-Alison Branagan-Creative Enterprise
  8. Know what they're looking forPortfolios have changed a lot in the last few years, with the advance in social media many creative employers will look at your online presence before reading through all of your CV, so bare in mind what you've put out there and make sure it actually represents you and your craft.Take Monique Daniels for example, a BA Hons Silversmithing, Goldsmithing & Jewelry Alumni of UCA who's gone on to be a successful entrepreneur, But she wouldn't have been able get where she is now without a substantial online presence and digital portfolio. Similarly many creative employers look through more passive media like Instagram and Facebook before calling for an interview, as these platforms provide a window into your life and are a great indicator of potential. So be careful what you post and make sure to share your best work instead of dozens of selfies and travel updates (I should really edit my Instagram!)
  9. Travel by word of mouth Art"Platforms such as LinkedIn, you think might not be for you, but art and design professionals from all over the world are on this platform, its free and it doesn't take long to set up a page. Building tentative networks now can be the key to a really bright future"-Alison Branagan-Creative EnterpriseAs Alison states, there's a wide world out there you can connect to and start building on at any time, you don't need to have graduated or started your Professional Futures module (Professional practice or whatever your course calls it) to benefit from this world of possibilities;  Once you've got all your domains, social media platforms, branding,  and the attention of your lecturers and peers, you'll see the footprint you now have can only get bigger and more popular as you keep giving it attention and new content, i'm excited already!
  10. Some money advice"If you are commissioned by a business or individual and there are material costs involved, e.g. the purchase of precious metal, yarns, paint, or expensive travel, you can ask for these costs up front, before you start.
    If selling work on Etsy or other online platform you don't need to worry about registering as self-employed until your earnings go over £1,000 during any tax year, e.g. during the period 6th April 2017 to 5th April 2018 for instance.”-Alison Branagan-Creative Enterprise
  11. LINK TIME!While compiling this blog i've come across a couple of websites that young professionals like yourself cannot afford to not know about.SpaceHive
    This site is a bit like a crowd-funder, but for specific community or artistic projects with many local businesses choosing to invest in their specific areas, if you have a project that may be beyond you financially, give a try here and see who rallies around you.

    This vast network of makers and creators provide Workshops and research teaching as well as opportunities to get involved in Competitions, internships, exhibitions and funding for creators specialising in jewellery and design.

    This non-profit invests heavily in young creatives focused in Digital Media like Film, TV and games, providing support, mentoring and advocation as well as long term grants to help you start your media business.

    Imagine a forum comprised of nearly every single university in the country? That's pretty much TheStudentRoom, an online destination for those looking to connect,network and collaborate in a platform that isn't overly complicated and overly serious.

    THE industry standard for online networking, the go to place for head-hunters and those looking to employ serious professionals, if you do one thing from this list then make sure it's to start a LinkedIn page and not just leave it there half finished like i did.

    UCA Creative Enterprise & Development
    This article wouldn't have been possible without the incredible support from the Enterprise team and the many tutors and lecturers i've spoken to. If i've learnt anything it's that they have the drive and passion to help you achieve your goals and prepare you to make it big in the creative world, but you have to talk to them first

    And that's it, i hope you'll find this information useful and it's words inspiring.
    If you have anything more you'd like to add please feel free to message me.
    Sorry for the lack of silly gifs, next time for sure.

Posted in: Blog on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 by