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Empowering young creatives to pursue a career in the arts

What to do if you haven’t a clue – career planning for the bewildered


So, you’re a creative person considering your future career.  Maybe you’re making choices for your next steps in education or training.  Maybe you’ve got some qualifications, and are wondering how to turn them to making a living.  But when you think about it, you don’t have a clue what that living looks like, never mind how to get there.

Step 1


This is not a bad thing.  It may seem like everyone around you has known exactly what they wanted to do since the age of five.  It’s not true – most of us are just winging it.  If you ask someone in the middle of their career how they got started, you’ll probably find there were some chance conversations, a bit of experimenting and the odd lucky break that led them to where they are now  (see Planned Happenstance).

There are some people who make a plan and follow it through, but there’s still a danger that, without proper research and a bit of flexibility, when you get there, the destination may not be quite what you thought it was.  Some people, whether or not they are doing what they planned, are not doing what they enjoy or are good at.  If you want to avoid this, go to step 2…

Step 2


…as Socrates would say.  This means knowing not just what you enjoy and are good at, but also who you are and what you really value.

“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” – Frederick Buechner

Being clear what matters to you means you are more likely to notice the right opportunities.  You’re more likely to be in situations or around people who will put you on the right path.  And it will give you extra motivation and focus to work towards your goals.

Some questions to get you thinking:

Step 3


If there was the perfect job out there, what would it be?  Remember that there are plenty of jobs now that didn’t exist even five years ago, and there may well be new ones in the next five years.  Don’t constrain yourself too much by what exists at this stage.  Creative careers in particular require innovation and flexibility, and are likely to change fast.  If you spot a niche that needs filling, you could even just do it yourself.

Consider your lifestyle as well – do you want to work 9-5?   Are you at your best surrounded by people, or do you prefer to work alone?  Can you stand being in an office, or do you have to get out in the fresh air?

It might help to have a list of work priorities.  Which is more important to you, high pay or flexible hours?  Stability or autonomy?  Make a list and rank them.

Step 4


Does your perfect job exist (or something close to it)? Start looking at job role descriptions.  Talk to people who work in the sector.  You might be surprised what people do that you’d never even considered!

There will always be compromises, even if you decide to be self-employed.  No job is fun all the time – but it can still be satisfying in the long term.

Hopefully this has given you a starting point.  You won’t have all the details worked out yet, but maybe you can at least see which direction to move in.  Good luck, and enjoy the journey!

written by Beth Hammond

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