Your degree is important but it’s not enough. The arts industry is incredibly competitive so getting work will require using every resource you can muster.
Poor but keen pretty much describes anyone doing a creative arts degree. Creative faculties are packed with students who are passionate about the arts and enthusiastic about their university projects.
But expecting your course to deliver everything you need to get a job is naïve and lazy. Availing yourself of broader resources is what will distinguish you from the pack and make future employers or clients consider you worthy of their time and investment.
Read ArtsHub regularly
ArtsHub, as the name suggests, is the central hub for anyone who works in the arts – or aspires to work in the arts.
It’s not usually free but for students ArtsHub is currently offering a free student subscription, available for a limited time. It’s your chance to get the information you need to break into the industry.
Sign up for your free student subscription now
Being part of ArtsHub gives you exclusive access to new job advertisements for positions in the arts every week. Many of these jobs are not advertised elsewhere because arts employers value the niche audience and quality applicants they get from ArtsHub.
Members gain access to thousands of articles to help readers develop their understanding of the industry and succeed in the arts workplace. Popular career advice is tailored for the arts industry on issues such as building your networks, improving your resume, managing your social media profile and managing the stress of working in the arts. ArtsHub journalists provide additional news articles and features covering all aspects of the industry every day.
You can receive regular email bulletins keeping you up to date with the latest happenings, stay in touch through social media platforms, and find out about grants, courses and happenings.
Volunteer at festivals, galleries and events
Volunteering is good karma – you feel virtuous because you are giving something back to the community. But, let’s be honest, it is also often self-serving.
Embedding yourself in an arts environment, connecting you with people with similar passions and providing demonstrable experience makes volunteering an excellent investment.
The career benefits of volunteering are well documented. Brett Williamson, Volunteering Australia’s former chief executive, said there is emerging research that people earn brownie points by volunteering that help them advance their careers. ‘It’s not just about altruism,’ he said.
Lisa Jackson, an artist based in Brisbane, volunteered at various events and galleries while she was at art school. ‘I have gotten two paid jobs as a result of volunteering, one at a gallery and one assisting at an arts festival. Volunteering shows that you are enthusiastic about the role and helps build up your skills and experience,' she explained.
‘It also means you are already in the minds of the people who are hiring, so they already know you and know that you can do that job, which makes you an ideal candidate,’ Jackson said.
Read: How volunteering can help your career
Develop your personal brand
Your social platforms are not just for selfies and photos of your breakfast. In fact the less you have of that and the more time you spend developing an image of yourself as you would like potential employers to see you, the better chance you have of becoming what you hope to be. Future employers will Google you so try Googling yourself and see what they will see. Then get to work and make it look like you want it to look. Fill your Instagram and Pinterest pages with interesting creative work. Follow people who matter in your field of interest on Facebook or Twitter. Build a LinkedIn profile that looks professional. Make intelligent comments, share your achievements and congratulate others. Oh, and keep your clothes on.
Read: Raise your social media profile
Work the room
It’s easy to attend an event, exhibition or party and only talk to the people you already know. Most of us find introducing ourselves hard work, even if we are quite extroverted among our friends. But any room you are sharing with strangers is an opportunity to meet someone who could be valuable to you. Make an effort to meet someone new at least once a week and make sure you get their name and some form of contact information. Then add them on social media and try to stay in touch
Read: How to work the room
Start a project
Waiting for someone else to pay you to do what you want to do is frustrating and often self-defeating. Your resume fills up with bar work while your creative skill languishes. Starting a creative project adds meaning to your days and gives you something to show to potential clients or employers. If you have a website filled with impressive graphics, photographs, blogs or videos, someone interested in your work probably won’t care (or know) whether you did them for yourself or a paying customer. But they will be able to assess the quality of your work and are more likely to conclude you are productive and experienced. It’s hard doing such work in a vacuum so set yourself a goal – a post a week, for example. You may come to enjoy it so much you keep it up even when you get paid work, a great plan given the instability of the industry.
Read: Why you need a project
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