Our third THIS IS IT! event at Bristol’s Engine Shed was enthusiastically received by Creative Employment interns of the South West. Not least by Amie Knights, who is a Creative Assistant intern at Stranger Collective in Cornwall. Here, she shares her thoughts on the careers day, and her journey with the Creative Employment Programme so far.
“When I finished my degree I had interviews for internships across the country –the six month 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. Whilst 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 Programme 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. However, within a matter of weeks I got the call. ‘Stranger Collective wants to interview you’. I’d heard of this copywriting agency through their previous surf and lifestyle publication, Stranger Magazine, and had been in touch whilst 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 6 month PAID internship which would not have existed without the programme.
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 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?
Having spent time Feeding with Stranger, 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 like-minds and live with energy, the speakers, from John Hector (BRAVE Consulting) to Sarah Cox (ArthurCox), spouted their 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. Queue 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, this is the poorest excuse. What does it cost to be the guy that hangs around outside Mike Smith’s (Virgin Records) building and ask, ‘can we at least hang out?’
What shined through most, throughout all the talks and from conversations with others at the event, was that you should seize every opportunity you can handle 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 in her speech. 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.”
Keep an eye on this blog for more from the Creative Employment interns and apprentices. Are you on a CEP placement? Let us know it is for you @CreativeSoc #ThisIsItEvent.