As a specialist in recruiting the best digital and creative talent across the North of England for the best marketing and design agencies, we can only recommend creatives to our clients with at least one years experience in a commercial environment. You see, clients come to us with specific requirements, be it packaging, POS, front end development, UX - you name it, if it has a creative angle to it then they are asking us for that experience.
And of course they pay us to go out and source people with that specific experience - they are often difficult to find. If they weren't then agencies wouldn't use recruitment companies! But, we do get a lot of graduates approaching us asking if we can help at all with their first career move so thought we'd give you our thoughts and the thoughts of some of our clients.
Before you do anything we'd suggest you get a portfolio together. We appreciate you won't have a load of commercial work to put in there but pull out of your Uni or college work the best pieces that you think would work in a commercial environment or that ended up being used. Take a look at our advice on creating portfolios here.
Once the portfolio is in place, have a look a Graduates Yorkshire - a really good source of information and opportunities for new graduates. Gumtree can also be good for some lower level freelancing opportunities to get you started.
It is important if possible to keep your hand in. Pick up any freelance work you can, create a facebook page, linkedin, network with friends, relatives and local businesses. Approach agencies to do an intern ship for a week or so. Lots of London agencies like to do this so if you have friends down there you may want to see if they you can crash on their sofa.
If you do approach an agency for an internship or work placement by sending over some examples of work or a compelling introductory email, use the old fashioned route and pick up the phone to make sure they have your enquiry, it will make you look keen and interested rather than just throwing your cv out there and hoping one sticks! You will find most of your best contacts on Linkedin and an equally important thing to remember is do your research, know who you are approaching and why, think about what you could do for them and why they should take a punt on you. Be original, you are a creative, be creative, be remembered, take time and effort to get this across.
Before putting this blog together we asked some of the leaders in the creative industry in the North what advice they would offer recent, aspiring, creative graduates. This is what they said:
“Be bold, be brave, be different. Remember you are the new fuse that is about to come into the agency world and ignite the place. The last thing I want from you is to be safe. You will learn loads from the people already working in the agency, but believe me you will teach them and thing or two. ”
Dave Lambert, Creative Director at Momentum
"You have got to roll your sleeves up and be prepared to work hard, don't expect to get big wages straight out of University, because you'll soon get a reality check. Don't panic if you have to begin at the bottom to work your way up, you will benefit in the longer term if you do things that you believe are beneath you. Take the time to learn from the people around you".
Mark McCargo, Account and Production Manager at Golley Slater
"Best advice I'd give to a grad is do a placement year before you graduate or get some experience working for free in real agencies the summer you graduate. We wouldn't take anyone on without commercial experience. That approach worked well for me getting into my career and I'd strongly recommend it for anyone else".Andy Banks, Owner and Managing Director at Squeeze Digital Marketing
"Look for a 'small job' in a 'big company' - you will learn so much more about working in a commercial, creative operation that will be valued and stand you in good stead for your 'second job'"
Darren Navier, Creative Director at BloomAgency
"The only advice I could give to a creative graduate is to try and get as much work experience within the industry as you can. If it means unpaid then so be it. The advantages for both parties is invaluable and in a lot of cases a job is secured that way".
Rachel Andrew, Senior Designer at Gratterpalm
"I would say get around as many companies as you can and think of a creative idea to get you a foot in the door, make sure you stand out. There are plenty of competition out there".
Steve Swann, Creative Director at Communisis/Ingenious Rapport
We hope these nuggets of wisdom help you along in the first stages of your career and that we can help you in the future with your second step.