Whether you leave education at 16 or 36, making the leap to full-time employment can be harder than a concrete kick in the nads. If you’re currently stumbling around like a headless, heartbroken nomad, wondering what to do next, here are some words from the wise. Well, from the IdeasTap staff…
Luiza Sauma, Deputy Editor
Go after what you’re passionate about. Screw how competitive it is and ignore your insecurities. Do as much work experience as possible, treat your superiors with respect, learn as much as you can and get a crap job to support yourself. Don’t get depressed about your crap job. More than anything, work your arse off and be nice to everyone. If you do that, you can’t fail.
Laura MacFarlane, Partnership Manager
I volunteered for Workplace Gallery in Gateshead while studying Fine Art at uni. The September after I graduated they asked me to apply for part-time work. Between graduating and my first pay cheque, I worked in the same pub I had done as a student and worked as a freelance cook.
James Hopkirk, Editor
I see a lot of CVs and I see the same mistakes again and again. Be concise: employers will scan your CV to get a sense of what you’ve been up to, so make it easy for them.
Use short bullet points, not long paragraphs. CVs should be a maximum of two pages. Your covering letter should never, ever be longer than one page. Check the spelling and grammar. Check again. And remember, tailor your CV and covering letter to every job you apply for.
Nell Frizzell, Assistant Editor
The day I finished my final exams I went in to the sort of terrified paralysis that I imagine free climbers experience when hanging off the Grand Canyon by a fingernail. I was too afraid of failure and being rejected. Eventually, I got hold of the Willings Press Guide, wrote off to about 50 publications and asked to do an editorial internship (ignoring the mental image of editors laughing over and burning my cover letters). My first placement turned into my first job and the rest is history. I also found Journalism.co.uk and Gorkana very helpful.
Sam Parsons, Marketing manager
Work experience. Apply to all of the companies and organisations that you love – most won’t get back to you, but someone eventually will. I personally prefer smaller organisations; you are much more likely to get more hands on experience.
Don’t moan about the little crappy jobs that you might get asked to do – these are jobs that need doing, and everyone else has done them too. Finally, make the tea on your first day. Sounds daft, but I swear it’s one of the single most important things you can do when integrating yourself into a team. You never know, the MD could be in the kitchen too.
Joe Hooper, Web Assistant
Be prepared to work for free. I went to an arts college and so when I finished I found that I was qualified to do very little. After three months of dossing around I went on Arts Jobs and applied for anything that remotely interested me, paid or unpaid. Also, don’t be afraid to do something you’re not crazy about.
Cathy Thomas, Editorial intern
Remember that you can always change jobs – first jobs are rarely ideal and what you want from a job will change with experience. Skills are easily transferrable and it’s never too late to go back to the internship circuit. Be practical: research retraining, ask anyone and everyone for advice, and quit. That’s what I did when I left my job in advertising to intern at IdeasTap – now I don’t know why I was ever worried about it.
Brennavan Sritharan, Development Intern
People continue to undervalue the importance of a well-designed CV, thinking that content is all that matters. Recruiters might look at over 50 CVs a day, and a visually appealing one (lots of white space, no walls of text, well chosen font) will always catch their eye.
Lucy Glover, Development Assistant
Don’t wait for things to happen, but make them happen. That includes creating your own work and events, emailing people to ask for work experience and doing admin work in exchange for studio space and access to equipment. Finally, add yourself to relevant mailing lists and Facebook pages.
Steve Gambardella, Multimedia manager
I got my first job partly through nepotism and partly through hard work. I got a temp job through a friend and worked really hard for three months. Impressed with my work, they offered me a full-time post, where I got a lot of very useful training. I did that for two years and then did an MA.
Work for a while before you think about going back to uni to do an MA. It’s good to jump into the big bad world; it makes going back to education sweeter and injects a bit of urgency into all the new free time you have.
Tom Seymour, Assistant Editor
Beyond luck, a small inheritance and the charity of my grandma, what got me into film journalism, I think, was learning about what I wanted to do before I was actively doing it. What part of the market were the magazines aiming for? What’s their voice? Who works on those mags? What did their career look like? What do people want from film journalism? If I was going to aspire to something, at least I could try and know about what I was aspiring to.
Steve Watkins, Marketing assistant
Stay in contact with people – you never know when they might be helpful. I interned for free for six months and still email my former manager for advice or just to generally update him on what I’m doing.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the black hole of endlessly applying for jobs – but try to keep it fresh and stay positive. Your first job is always the hardest to get, so keep on plugging away. It will be worth it in the end.
Do you want to make the leap from education to employment? Would you like to be funded £30,000 for a year? Then apply now to the Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund
Graduation by ajschwegler available under a 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.