One of the hardest parts about starting out in any industry is gaining enough experience to land the jobs you want. It can be frustrating to feel as though you're in a Catch-22 situation - you don't have enough experience to get a role that will help give you the experience!
We've been chatting to some of the superstar candidates on the Artisan Recruitment roster about how they first landed experience in their relevant industries in the hope that up and comers will find some inspiration and wisdom from the early and formative experiences of their peers who have successfully found work in the creative and digital fields.
"I completed my University degree and started applying for graduates to junior roles. My portfolio at the time was what got me interviews, so a great portfolio is definitely needed. However even though I got to the interview, my lack of experience pretty much didn’t allow me to get a job straight away. I then reassessed my situation and focused on trying to gain experience and networking with other creatives. My first gig was interning at a small boutique studio in Collingwood and then spent the year interning and freelancing for small studios. After gaining experience I then started applying for roles and luckily got a junior position at Spotlight Retail Group." - Ha, Graphic Designer
“I got a job at a printer/typesetting place doing paste-up and finished art, I think I was on about $5 an hour back in 1996.” - Adam, Art Director
"I started building websites for fun in the mid 90s, but didn't start doing it for serious money until the early 2000s, when I had a career change from engineering in my mid/late 20s. I'd just done a diploma of multimedia, but I was struggling to get an interview, let alone a job. My first paid experience was doing small freelance gigs for a design studio near my day job. They were getting trickle down jobs for some biggish clients so I got some brand names into my folio. That lead to websites for friends of friends businesses which lead to contracting." - Luke, Senior Developer
"In my first role, I went from an interview that lasted less than an hour, to being thrown into the deep end the following day. It was more luck than anything, but also perseverance. I had received dozens of rejection letters, attended a few interviews that never replied. This was all back before Artisan was a thought-bubble, and most of the legwork was done by the individual. Something that has helped me get through all of the rejection was taught to me at uni. “People will tell you that they don’t like your designs. That is a fact. It is not a personal attack, and its only their opinion. Do not take it personal. If a designer takes the criticism personally, it will destroy them”. Remember, in the industry, no client will like all of your designs. As long as the criticism is constructive, it can help you grow, inspire you to keep learning, and eventually build a relationship with the client, in which you are able to understand how they think and what they expect." - Patrick, Finished Artist
"This is going to show my age, but when I first started out you couldn’t even do a course, let alone a tertiary degree. I started learning how to use PageMaker, Freehand and Harvard Graphics (equivalent to PowerPoint) because no one else knew anything about design programs. From there it lead to my first official job in design." - Narelle, Senior Finished Artist
We then asked our amazing candidates what would be their advice to their younger selves if they could go back in time to when they were first starting out, and here are their responses!
"My advice would be to definitely network earlier and try to get experience during your 1st to 2nd year of university. As it would be help you understand a studio environment and get industry experience." - Ha, Graphic Designer
"Don't work stupid hours. I know it's hard to avoid in this industry but a work-life balance is important." - Adam, Art Director
"Talk yourself up and explain what you are doing respectfully. Don't assume your work speaks for itself, if you do an amazing job with no fuss, people will think it was easy. Assume people are idiots and have no appreciation of how brilliant you are. Even if you are talking to experienced people, it's a good habit. Tell people when they have disappointed you - ie a client who didn't pay you on time or a coworker that didn't pull their weight. Tell them why so that difficult conversions become easier." - Luke, Senior Developer
"Stick with it. Stick to your guns and believe in yourself more. Explore as many side-industries as you can, don’t be afraid of trying new things!" There were several times where I was close to throwing in the towel. We all go through those moments. Eventually, even the strongest of us begins to lose confidence when application letters go unanswered, or interviews don't result in employment. Trying new areas of the industry, or even showing interest and asking the odd question or two of someone in the industry can reveal all kinds of amazing things. Product Photography, AR, Packaging Design, Packaging Conception (Creating new dielines and packaging shapes for a new range, or inventing a new way to package old stock to raise its profile on the shelf, or to reinvent it in a stagnant market), Product Design etc." - Patrick, Finished Artist
"Back myself more and don’t listen to negative advice. Oh and study architecture like I wanted!! But seriously, I think the most important thing is learn everything you can, regardless of whether it might benefit you at the time, as life has a habit of doing a 180 degree turn and the better prepared and knowledgeable you are the more options you will have. Life isn’t always a one track journey. You never know where you might end up." - Narelle, Senior Finished Artist
Keep an eye out for more articles and interviews with our experienced candidates as they share wisdom and anecdotes from their own career experiences with Artisan Recruitment!