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The art of balancing study and work

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Jeanette Cheney

There are many benefits to gaining relevant industry experience while you’re still studying. Current and past students tell us why.
The art of balancing study and work

Image via Shutterstock.

Undertaking a course or degree is one of life’s greatest challenges and achievements. While a completed degree proves that you possess knowledge in your chosen field (or at least proves that you can wake up on time) successfully holding down an industry-relevant job while you are studying demonstrates that you are enthusiastic, proactive and committed.

Though it might take time away from the books, lived industry experience is crucial for career growth. It’s not all about the money; any volunteer work – hours donated to a cause or project – is relevant and can be fun. To ensure you prepare for the busy days ahead we reached out to current ArtsHub student members and recent graduates to ask how they managed to balance study and work experience.

Current student Augusta Jones. Image supplied.

Full time everything

Augusta Jones is smart about utilising her time. She is currently in her third year at Deakin University, Burwood campus, completing a Bachelor's of Creative Arts in Film & Television and will complete her honours in Film in 2018. 

She said that all the while she has been studying full time, she has worked in a demanding industry separate from her chosen career. 

‘For a majority of my studies I worked full time at Melbourne Airport in the hospitality industry,’ she said.

With a schedule filled with work and class Jones still managed to fit in time for her real passion. ‘All the while I was making four short films and a documentary. I found that my creativity was sincerely nourished through University.

‘The practical aspects of the course allowed me to be constantly making films, writing scripts and shooting productions. In the past three years it would be rare for me to not be making a film or in a production stages of a making a film.'  

Jones said it’s about knowing your priorities and setting goals. Jones’ ultimate priorities were her film projects: ‘This year I also created an experimental film titled Genau Das Will Ich Sehen. A German film I directed and wrote, a reflection of the dark experiences in my own life.’

Jones said juggling work, study and passion projects was hard work but nothing that can’t be managed. ‘People are always under the impression that you can't study full time, travel and work. This is not true at all, you can do it and you can succeed if you want it bad enough.’

The hard work is rewarding and fruitful in many ways, Jones said. ‘I was enthralled to find Genau Das Will Ich Sehen was successfully picked for Sydney World Film Festival and Brussels World Film Festival this year.’

Illustrator and designer Hannah Tyrell. Image supplied.

International work experience

Working and studying in a foreign country can lead to extraordinary experiences. Hannah Tyrell is a designer and illustrator who began her studies locally but ended up finishing her education overseas. And she didn’t shy away from hard work either.

‘After I finished High School, I attended an Arts College where I studied for my diploma qualification in Creative Studies,’ Tyrell said.

‘After this I went on to complete my university degree in English Literature and Fine Art: Painting and Drawing at the University of Northampton in the UK.’

While studying, Tyrell ingrained herself in the local arts culture. ‘During university, I worked as a journalist in London writing and sub-editing the Art & Design column of the online newspaper. It was my role to review new exhibitions and galleries, interview artists and comment on the diverse creative sphere in London.’

Working and studying in a different arts culture allowed her to see the different job roles she was interested in within the industry. ‘I additionally worked as an arts mentor tutoring younger students in a variety of creative subjects,’ she said.

Having completed her studies Tyrell returned to Australia. ‘I now work as a Digital Marketing Coordinator for an Australian retail brand,’ she said.

While working in the industry she still manages time for her own pursuits. ‘Alongside this role, I also run my own business in illustration and design, creating anything and everything for clients, from custom watercolour illustrations to small business product photography, logos and branding materials,’ she said. 

Videographer Lawrence Phelan. Image supplied.

Intern, freelancer and all-round-go-getter

Lawrence Phelan is a Videographer. Before deciding on his practice he made sure he put time into researching the course: ‘It was a tough decision but I chose to study a Bachelor of Media & Communications at Australian Catholic University. It was a great course even though it was a fairly new course at the time.’

Phelan knew that extra industry experience was vital to his career. He said, ‘During my time studying I discovered that I wasn’t able to get anywhere near enough industry experience if I relied purely on what the course offered.’

So Phelan came up with a brilliant plan and made some sacrifices: ‘I knew that I needed to do something to lift my game and give myself an edge over other graduates,’ he said.

‘This meant sacrificing a lot of my time interning and eventually it led to me offering my services as a freelancer. I initially I approached local councils,’ and what had started as free work turned into a company.

'After working in London for a production company I returned to Melbourne and now run my own production company, where I specialise in the arts and music industry.’

Phelan told ArtsHub the love for the art was why he sacrificed so much of his time to his career. ‘I just loved creating videos so I found whatever I could to make it possible for me to create them.’

About the author

Jeanette is an ArtsHub staff writer.

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