I graduated with a degree in a humanity related field and like many people with a humanities’ degree, not necessarily from Oxford or Cambridge, I initially began to panic. After having spent four years studying highly abstract notions and theoretical ideas and writing long essays, how would I apply these skills to the decidedly less abstract world of gaining meaningful employment? Luckily if you graduate from a good University in the Western world, especially Oxbridge, there are many routes you can explore which will allow you to get a job in the corporate world. Many friends with similar degrees in humanities were also wondering what they wanted to do and were exploring the much worn route of graduating from Oxbridge with a humanity’s degree and going into Law or corporate finance.
Initially I decided to pursue the well-worn route of researching law conversion courses and applying for jobs in corporate finance. The issue? I had little interest in the jobs I was applying for as they did not fit my overall career and life goals. After gentle persuasion from my family and with the ever present anxiety of unemployment an issue, I worked in the management consultancy and banking sector. I gained valuable experience in how these industries work and the sector they deal with. However deep down I knew my passions were for architectural drawing and design and working in the corporate sector would not fulfil either of these passions of mine.
I woke up one day during my time working in banking and decided I could no longer do a job that I was simply doing to make a salary. I spoke with my manager and she was very understanding that I wanted to pursue other career options. Rather than feeling hopeless, I realised I had finally made the decision to drive my own career path and finally pursue what it was I really wanted to do. Given my trials and tribulations with the corporate world and finally realising what it was I wanted to do, the following advice is intended as a rough outline of what I felt most beneficial when I decided to take the plunge into achieving my personal career goals:
Having spoken with many creative individuals who ended up feeling lost in their careers or after graduating I have the following advice for anyone (and I know there are many!) who feel the same way. Above all, do not become trapped in a job or career simply to make money. For the vast majority of people this will not satisfy your intellectual or creative aptitude and simply leave you feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. It is better to gain experience in a field or career you do want to enter which will eventually lead to a well-paid and more importantly, fulfilling job than slogging it out in a job that leaves you uninspired and unfulfilled.
Secondly, do not be afraid to take the plunge into a different job sector that initially means you have to take a cut in your salary or pay. Gaining experience in the creative sector and building up your portfolio – whether in terms of artwork or designs helps you to lay the foundation for entering into a notoriously competitive jobs market to enter.
An often unspoken truth about entering the creative professions is the sense of judgement if you do not choose to enter traditional career paths. This sense of judgement often comes from both family and friend circles and this prevents many people from pursuing their passions and talents because wanting to please your peers and family is also an important aspect of your life. Having the courage to quit your job is a bold step but can ultimately lead to greater career and personal satisfaction.
Finally, and possibly the most unpopular piece of advice I would give is that having a back-up plan is always a good idea. Creative industries such as fashion, design and architecture take many years to penetrate to be successful. It is important to remember that these industries are often not vocational career paths and being able to generate an income on the side can help you support your passions and career choices. Taking the time to learn a skill that can provide a sustainable career on the side is never a bad idea.
I am now working in marketing in a job I feel an immense sense of satisfaction with and I am able to use my creative personality to enhance my work. The portfolio I took the time to build up helped greatly in securing a job in the market I wanted to enter and I am also writing my own design book on the side. I no longer feel a sense of dread or helplessness in terms of career. It is important to override fears of dejection as these are often greatly overstated and prevent you from achieving your career goals. Marketing in particular is a very competitive industry and something that really shines through is your ability to overcome initial rejection and use your own initiative and creativity to prove yourself. Remember, it is often a long but rewarding road to career satisfaction in the creative industry!