Here comes the summer!

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This week, Glasgow was finally bathed in sunshine,albeit for one day, reminding us that summer is just around the corner.  At GSA, students are busy with their final assessments and making plans for their holidays.  For many students this will mean preparing to go on a pre-planned period of work experience with an employer in order to develop their CV, expand their professional knowledge and network. But, what happens if you have not secured an industry placement or are unable to undertake one due to work or family commitments, does this mean that you have missed an opportunity to develop key professional practice for your future career?

My answer to that question is no. While there is no doubt industry placements are really important; http://careers.guardian.co.uk/graduate-jobs-internships-worthwhile. Not securing one is not the end of the world.  There are many other career focused activities and work that you can be getting on with to support your professional practice during the summer period.

Why not start with researching you professional network. Record who you currently know and their practice. Create a plan to expand your professional network, by developing a list of achievable goals to undertake during the holiday period.  These goals might be as simple as joining an online community, such as Artquest’s  Artelier http://www.artquest-artelier.com/ or subscribing to an industry e-newsletter such as the Design Council’s newsletter; http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Newsletter-sign-up/Subscribe/ . Not sure about your  professional network, why not read the GSACareers introduction to networks here; https://gsacareers.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/networking-for-novices-3/

Volunteering can help establish professional practice and build new networks. Check out Project Scotland http://www.projectscotland.co.uk/ and Voluntary Arts Scotland http://www.voluntaryarts.org/basic-page/scotland/for local volunteer opportunities.  Often training is provided as part of the volunteering opportunity so don’t forget to record any development/ training on your CV.

Talking of training, why not apply to attend some business focused training. Understanding business and developing entrepreneurial skills is really important for creative professionals, see the GSACareers post https://gsacareers.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/why-all-creative-graduates-should-be-enterprising/ for further information.  Most business support organisations will offer free training throughout the summer. Good places to find out about training events are; Cultural Enterprise Office: http://www.culturalenterpriseoffice.co.uk/website/ , PSYBT: http://www.psybt.org.uk/casestudies/22/13

Applying to and (hopefully) winning competitions and awards will also strengthen your CV and help you to become more visible to others in you sector.  Often students don’t  hear about fantastic competitions until it is too late and deadlines have passed.  So why not create your own opportunities diary for the coming year, which  is packed full of competition opportunities, awards and deadlines that are suitable to you and your practice. Luckily, there are a range of online sources of listings for creative competitions,  here are just a couple;

Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin are increasing in importance for students and new graduates professional toolkit.  Not got an online presence yet or have put off developing one because you  haven’t got any spare time? The summer months are your opportunity to really explore what social media practice can mean to you and your creative practice. Not  sure what social media is? GSACareers introduction to social media is a good starting point: https://gsacareers.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/introduction-to-social-media/

These are just a few of my career ideas to help you make the most of your summer holidays. Want to find out more, why don’t you come along to Wednesday’s  GSACareer session 4-5pm Bourdon Lecture Theatre to discuss your plans.

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