Why your placement is as important as your degree qualification….

You have studied hard, spent long hours in the library  and studio perfecting your dissertation and visual practice and you are confident that you have developed fabulous graduate skills….so why will your degree qualification alone  not be enough for the graduate market?

Put simply, the competition for graduate and creative graduate jobs is so high that without industry experience,  your CV /application wont stand out from the rest of the graduate crowd.

Work experience, internships, placements and live projects all help to evidence your; graduate aptitudes, abilities, professionalism and industry knowledge.  Employers now expect that you will have undertaken some form of industry experience during your degree programme.

Recent research, Creative Industries: What do employers want,  from Plymouth College of Art, asked creative employers what they look for in a CV.  And the message is clear; 93% of employers stated that they consider industry  experience as most important followed by skills (91%). And nearly half of those employers surveyed expected the experience to be; approximately 2-3 weeks long, relevant to your career ambitions and have developed new skills and knowledge of how the creative industry works.

Another reason that undertaking placement activity during your degree is so important is that it is a great way to expand your professional network. Building a professional network as an undergraduate will make you and your skills visible to employers and build professional relationships before your graduate.

Finally, employers are increasing valuing placement activity not only as a way of assessing new graduates skills and commitment but as a great way to recruit too.  This was highlighted in a  recent report by HIGH FLYERS 2012; where a third of this year’s graduate entry-level positions were expected to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations – either through industrial placements, vacation work or sponsorship. Find out more by downloading the report here: http://www.highfliers.co.uk/download/GMReport12.pdf

So if you haven’t already  gained an industry placement start planning and applying to employers now. Find out more about planning your placement here: http://creativeboom.co.uk/tips/top-tips-for-work-experience-placements  or here: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/work_experience.htm


Email careers@gsa.ac.uk for the companion handout and come along to the ‘Finding and making the most of your creative placement’ seminar on Wednesday 5th December 2012 4-5pm Bourdon Lecture Theatre.

Further Resources

National council for Work experience: http://www.work-experience.org

National Minimum Wage Guidelines: https://www.gov.uk/your-right-to-minimum-wage/who-gets-the-minimum-wage

Skillset Work Experience Guidelines: http://www.creativeskillset.org/companies/your_staff/article_5541_1.asp


Are Graduate Opportunities for Creative Graduates?

Graduate Job Options…..

Go to any Higher Education Career Service at the moment and there will be a buzz in the air regarding graduate vacancies and deadlines.

The message is clear-Final year students, it’s time to attend those career fairs, make applications and get that graduate job that will steer your career to success!…but what does this mean for creative graduates, are there any graduate vacancies out there that fit creative skill sets and ambition??

The quick answer to this question is  YES!

A high percentage of graduate employment opportunities are for non specified degrees at 2:1 level or above: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/jul/04/graduate-recruiters-look-for-21-degree , in other words, the graduate employer is often looking for potential, personal qualities and abilities of graduate rather than a particular degree subject. This was evidenced recently by an ADECCO survey that found that 91% of graduate recruiters hold attitude and personality in greater esteem than academic qualifications when assessing new recruits.

So what skills are they looking for? This will depend largely on the company that you are applying to. Although in general, your graduate attributes such as; project management, independent creative thinking, business acumen, communication and research skills, combined with relevant work experience will be a huge asset,  not forgetting about your creativity and innovation…..Not sure how this fits into graduate employment? NESTA produced a great report in 2008, that highlighted the benefits of Fine Art graduates in non creative sectors; see here for the full report: http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/Fine-arts-graduates-and-innovationv8.pdf . Your creative skills are highly prized by employers; so make sure you articulate them well.

So, what kind of graduate vacancies are there?  Simple answer to this is  graduate employment is not all about large companies, they can be from a diverse range of sectors  and employers such as: retail, charity,  social enterprises, engineering , construction , logistics, advertising, media to MI5…see here for vacancies; Prospects: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/graduate_job_search.htm or here Milkround: http://www.milkround.com/ or here Graduate Jobs   http://www.graduate-jobs.com/. and Times Top 100 Graduate Employers http://www.top100graduateemployers.com/

So if you are a confident, quick learner who is organised with excellent people skills and not sure where your creative degree is taking you, why not explore the world of graduate employment and find out what graduate employers can offer you beyond your studies.

Want to find out more about Graduate Employers,  email careers@gsa.ac.uk for the companion handout and come along to the ‘Graduate employment and job hunting’,  session on Wednesday 28th November 2012 4-5pm Bourdon Lecture Theatre.

Further Research:

Future work skills: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/front/docs/sponsored/phoenix/future_work_skills_2020.pdf

Association of Graduate recruiters: http://www.agr.org.uk/

Pay over the Past 25 years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRTnnCvZMXg

Latest labour market Podcast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p7u9FljakU

Graduate Case studies including Emma Ewan GSA Fine Art Graduate 2012:

360 Degree Success: http://www.universities-scotland.ac.uk/uploads/360Degrees.pdf

How to find a Postgraduate Course….

How Do you Find the right Postgraduate course for you?…..

Now that we are in well and truly into the first term of the academic year,  many fourth year students  are starting to think about to their graduate options and many will be contemplating further study.

As creative learners, they are not alone, a recent report from, Creative Graduates Creative Futures (2009 http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/projects/creative/creative.php ) highlighted that; over 72% of creative graduates will undertake some form further study during their career. Their reasons for undertaking further study are varied from; developing new learning and practice, to helping them stand out in a crowded employment market,  to converting to a new career,  to pursuing a deeper interest in their subject.

If you are considering further study after your undergraduate programme, there is a lot to research and think about before you put pen to paper and make your application.

Number one:  The main thing when choosing a course is to select a course that you are passionate about. Be clear why you are interested in the course and  remember the course is not an end itself, where will this new learning lead you in terms of your career and practice? Choosing a course will take a great deal of preparation and focus.  Find out about how to get prepared here: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate_study_why_do_postgraduate_study.htm

Number Two: Find the course that is best for you.  Currently, there are over 55, 000 courses available in the UK.  How do you prefer to learn? courses range from taught to research and delivered in full time and part time options. What qualifications/level do you require to access your chosen career ?How long do you want to study for? Use this information to guide you in your course selection.  Find out what courses are available here: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/search_courses.htm

Number Three:  Undertake comprehensive research. Identify courses that you are most interested in and attend as many open days as you can. Open days usually occur in autumn and will give you the opportunity to meet course tutors, get a feel the course environment and meet current students.  Go with a plan and explore; course content, making a great application, funding your studies and career prospects. Find out when open days are happening here: http://www.findamasters.com/students/opendays.aspx

Thinking of studying abroad?

An increasing number of UK students are pursuing courses aboard. Learning aboard is an excellent way to develop language skills (a growing need for graduate employers), build life experiences and experience of other education systems/environments/cultures.  Use the Prospects Guide to studying abroad: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/guide_studying_abroad.htm to gain advice and search for international postgraduate courses on the  Prospects: country specific information: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/country_profiles.htm  (select your country’s flag and look for the postgraduate study link)

If you are an international student thinking of further study? See here for advice: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/study_in_the_uk.htm  and make an appointment with GSA Career Service to discuss your plans.

Want to find out more about Postgraduate Study, email careers@gsa.ac.uk for the companion handout and come along to the ‘Finding a post-graduate course’, seminar on Wednesday 14th November 2012 4-5pm Bourdon Lecture Theatre.

Why all creative graduates should be enterprising….

Next week sees the launch of Global Enterprise Week http://www.gew.org.uk/  12-18th November 2012, an exciting, week long programme of national and international events, competitions and activities that aims to inspire and motivate you to engage with enterprise, entrepreneurship and business.

As a creative student why should you get involved? Here are my top reasons why you should…. 

1.More graduates than ever are choosing to become self employed after graduation.

A recent HESCU publication, ‘What graduates do 2011/12’ highlighted a growth in the number of graduates who are choosing to become self employed after their studies. Notably, creative graduates are leading the way with 46.8% of self employed graduates coming from arts, design, culture or sports professions. With 64.6% of graduates working as artists and 34.6% of textile designers  reporting to be self employed/freelance six months after graduation. See the report here: http://www.hecsu.ac.uk/assets/assets/documents/WDGD_Oct_2012.pdf

2.Business skills and knowledge are increasingly becoming a key graduate attribute required for today’s employment market.

More and more employers are seeking graduates who can demonstrate business acumen and customer awareness. Employers are looking for graduates who understand and can contribute to; how a business operates, the market that they work within and how to deal with customers and clients professionally. This is especially true for the creative sector, which is predominately populated by small to micro businesses often employing 4 people or less. As a  creative graduate who has business acumen you will be at a distinct advantage in the job market.  See Target Jobs for more information on what employers are looking for in new graduates: http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/career-planning/273051-the-top-10-skills-thatll-get-you-a-job-when-you-graduate

3.Your creativity is highly valued in the business world… The BusinessSchooledge.com http://www.businessschooledge.com/21-business-skills-to-succeed (extract below) details key skills required for successful business. Your day to day creativity, skills and approach to practice; such as visual arts and design processes are key qualities that entrepreneurs hold. Find out more about your skills in a business context: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/reports/assets/features/the_art_of_innovation

  • Imagination – Many people neglect their creative side feeling thinking that it is better to be all about the logic, but in fact some of the most successful business people are also the most imaginative.
  • Inventiveness – If you can imagine it you can create it, and if you create it then you can sell it! Look around you, think of the things you buy and use, someone had to have the idea before it was built and sold to you. You might be surprised how few mad inventors there are, more products are invented in a marketing office than a garage.
  • Problem Solving – A big part of surviving in business is about solving problems fast and effectively. An employee who is good at keeping their head in a crisis while fighting fires is a worthwhile asset to any business.
  • Brainstorming – Some people think brainstorming is all about having stupid ideas while ridiculing the contributions of everyone else while drinking coffee, eating cookies and flirting with the secretary from floor 2. Perhaps this is why brainstorms get a bad name? If you can brainstorm great ideas, fast then you will be one step ahead.
  • Making connections – Some of the best ideas have simply been about connecting two otherwise unconnected ideas together. Could you invent the next iPhone?

Interested in finding out more, why don’t you seek out opportunities to get involved in local Global Enterprise week activity, take a risk and start to build the business knowledge and awareness that will help you succeed in your future career.

For Global Enterprise Week events near you see: http://tinyurl.com/dxot2av

Or Contact Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE): http://www.sie.ac.uk/news.aspx

And your SIE intern: http://www.sie.ac.uk/contact-us/student-interns.aspx

Or email careers@gsa.ac.uk for the Creative Business handout and come along to the ‘Creative Business’ seminar on Wednesday 14th November 2012 4-5pm Bourdon Lecture Theatre.

Other Resources

Scottish Institute for Enterprise: http://www.sie.ac.uk

Cultural Enterprise Office: http://www.culturalenterpriseoffice.co.uk/website/

Deutsche Bank Award in Creative Practice: https://gsacareers.wordpress.com/deutsche-bank-award-in-creative-practice/

NESTA Scotland: http://www.nesta.org.uk/areas_of_work/scotland

Artquest: http://www.artquest.org.uk/

Creative Enterprise network: http://www.creative-enterprise-network.com/

Guardian Careers Article: http://careers.guardian.co.uk/careers-blog/creatives-entrepreneurs-graduate-jobs


Image: Red Button Design winning SIE competition

Building a plan for your future…

Building a plan for your future…        

The job market has changed dramatically over the last decade. Increased globalisation, the decline of some job roles, fierce competition and limited job security, coupled with difficult economic conditions and higher skill demands from employers,  are all contributing to a complex graduate market.

To add to this, the plethora of post study courses and qualifications available and range of self employment options, it is no wonder that the transition from student to graduate can seem daunting. So, what can you do to help yourself navigate the career choices available to you?

The Career Plan…..

The most effective way to manage your career options is to undertake some career planning activity. Career planning is a staged process that involves combining self-awareness and career research to enable you to make informed career choices. It’s a supportive process that will help you to manage and sustain your progress throughout your career. Good career planning will;

  • Help you to reflect on and articulate your skills, attributes and experiences.
  • Help you to identify and explore all career options and choices that you have.
  • Help you to reflect, compare and consider career options in the context of your own wants, needs and skills, identify suitable options and make realistic career decisions.
  • Help you to create a strategy to enter your career.

Undertaking regular career planning activity will ensure that you will continue to make good career choices as well as build your confidence, network, opportunities and knowledge of your sector. It will also help you to stay flexible, informed and successful in your career ambitions helping you to, find opportunities, move with changing markets, job roles, training and new approaches to work.

To find out more about career planning, see Prospects ‘Features of Career Planning’ http://www.prospects.ac.uk/features_career_planning.htm

or, email careers@gsa.ac.uk for the companion Career Planning handout and come along to the ‘Planning your launch into your sector’,  seminar on Wednesday 7th November 2012 4-5pm Bourdon Lecture Theatre.

And get planning your career today!