Amie took a day away from the Stranger Collective studio to find out more about carving a career path in the creative industries, at This Is It! Here’s what she found out…
When I finished my degree I had interviews for internships across the country –the six months unpaid kind. I had absolutely no way of funding myself through such a scheme but the ‘I’ll do anything’ mentality was drummed into me and stuck like a ‘kick me’ post-it to my back.
Even so, the demand for lengthy unpaid employment was bizarrely overwhelming and I was unsuccessful in my hopes of working full time for lunch tokens. So, after some time volunteering with local arts companies and charities, I tore off the post-it and decided to see out the economic chill in sunnier climates.
I returned from my gap year to find a far more inviting economy. While being just as determined, I was also far more confident in my value as an employee. So I set out once more to grasp at the straws of employment. In Cornwall (where I live) there are admittedly far fewer straws to grasp at, but throughout my studies I fell in love with the small yet thriving creative community and I knew this is where I wanted to be.
Discovering the Creative Employment Scheme was like seeing a beacon in the long drawn out night of jobless angst. But wait. Arts funding the Government hasn’t bleached out like a grass stain from a pair of cricket shorts? Surely not. And yet, within a matter of weeks I got the call. ‘Stranger Collective wants to interview you’.
Discovering the Creative Employment Scheme was like seeing a beacon in the long drawn out night of jobless angst.
I’d heard of this copywriting agency through its previous surf and lifestyle publication, Stranger Magazine, and had been in touch while at university. I was beyond excited to be given the chance and by luck, merit or persistence, I’m now sat in the Stranger Collective office, two and half months into my six-month PAID internship which may not have existed without The Creative Society.
As Creative Assistant intern at Stranger Collective I’ve already worked on some really exciting projects and for some big clients. From conjuring visual concepts for presentations to writing festival website copy, organising the distribution of our mini-magazine, ‘Bait’, to brainstorming children’s toy names, I have a pretty varied role assisting the rest of the Stranger Collective team.
I’ve learned a lot too. On top of everything though, the most important thing I’ve sponged is that working in the creative industry means regularly challenging yourself and seeking out new experiences as much as you can. Stranger Collective promotes this through Feeding.
Feeding gives every employee the chance to fuel their creativity every tenth working day. Whether it’s attending a new theatre show, spending a day at the mixing decks or delving into a good book you just haven’t had the time to read, the world is your experiential smorgasbord. Every Feed day is written up as post on our blog, because where’s the fun in a good Feed if you’ve got no-one to share it with?
How does getting to grips with dark matter make you better writer? The same way making tea for Geoff Barrow will make you a better sound engineer or working in a strip club will make you a better poet.
Having spent time Feeding with Stranger Collective, I was all up for a day out of the office meeting other creatives in the South West and sapping some words of wisdom from the line-up of speakers. So, I headed up country for the This Is It! event.
In a room filled with likeminds and alive with energy, the speakers – from John Hector (Brave) to Sarah Cox (ArthurCox) – enthralled us all with tales of trajectory and shared the gems they’ve picked up along the way.
Some of the most invaluable advice offered was also the most difficult to take. Cue eye-rolls as the curse word ‘networking’ popped up repeatedly. Being told it’s largely about who you know can be hard to take. As a new graduate or school leaver it’s easy to expound excuses like, ‘the wealthiest people have the best connections’. However, in this industry especially, it’s the poorest excuse. What does it cost to be the guy that hangs around outside Mike Smith’s (Virgin Media) building and ask, ‘can we at least hang out?’
What shone through most – through both the talks and conversations with others at the event – was that you should seize every opportunity you find and do as much as you possibly can. Because everything is relevant. Yes, even making tea. Who knows where that next cuppa will take you?
So much of what I took away from This Is It! felt in sync with Stranger Collective’s Feeding ethos. How does getting to grips with dark matter make you better writer? The same way making tea for Geoff Barrow will make you a better sound engineer or working in a strip club will make you a better poet – as Sabrina Mafouz proved. It’s about collecting a raft of experiences, being open and receptive and always asking yourself:
‘What are you passionate about? What excites you? What’s going to get you out of bed in the morning?’
Wise words, John Hector.