The hoards of students who turned out to the RHUL Careers Centre’s annual Creative Careers Forum demonstrated what most of us already knew: that creative jobs are perhaps the most sought-after on the market, and are therefore, sadly, among the most difficult to get.
But while the sheer volume of attendees might have acted as a wake-up call for anyone hoping to waltz into a high profile media job a month after graduation, the speakers at the event had an inspiring message: that going into the creative industries is likely to lead to a stimulating, rewarding and varied career. Getting there, however, requires a limitless amount of hard work, dedication and drive.
The speakers – casting director Will Davies, publisher Peggy Vance, actor and theatre administrator Fran Miller and Andrew Michael, a financial journalist – were all Royal Holloway alumni. All four were quick to point out that passion is are essential for anyone hoping to make it in the creative sector, since the financial rewards will never be very high. They drew attention to the inevitability of working very hard for not much money – even for free – and, for the vast majority, of taking several years to reach their goals; they also highlighted the importance of work experience and internships, and cited patience, humility and tenacity among the qualities needed for success.
After the talk, students were encouraged to network with other RHUL alumni, from a diverse and prestigious selection of companies and organisations, including Dorling Kindersley and the BBC. Networking, they were reminded, is an important step on any career path, since the old cliché, ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’, has an unfortunate amount of truth in it.
Tim Burke, of BBC 1’s Politics Show, advised students trying to get a foot in the door of their chosen industry to plan not just their next step, but the step after that.
‘If you think about what’s going to happen further down the line, and how you’re going to get there, you’re way ahead of yourself,’ he said. ‘Don’t be hungry – you have to be starving. If you’re not really passionate for what you’re doing, give up and do something else. Find that thing that you really will die for.’