France may be home to some of the most famous fashion houses in the world but I found it easier to get a creative job after I had crossed the channel. We French may have coined the phrase savoir-faire but we certainly lack the appropriate behaviour to foster creativity. In my experience, artistic pursuits are considered hobbies and creative careers are discouraged. Unless of course you come from the proper background and are lucky enough to attend one of France’s prestigious art, fashion or business schools. So much for egalite.
A friend recently applied for a role at an iconic French fashion house, she has experience at a top Parisian brand, a BA in contemporary literature and a Masters in Communications but was unsuccessful because “my profile isn’t for them, I didn’t do any of the schools they like”. Her experience reminded me why I left and had me pondering what skills are required to be a successful, ahem paid, creative.
I have a BA in Italian Language and Culture and a Masters in International Relations, so in France, I certainly struggled but in London, I am working as a fashion sub-editor and writer. For many of my compatriots seeking a creative job, London is an El Dorado, but that does not mean we haven’t had to work hard to get a foot in the door. I haven’t always known the best career path for myself or how to go about getting it. So here are my top tips and tricks to help you realise your creative job:
Do your research
On both yourself and the role/companies you want. Start by working out what you love doing in your spare time and what you are good at. If you are passionate about a specific field within the creative industry, start looking at the companies and people you admire. For the companies, research their mission, look at their vacancies and the job titles of their staff to find out how you might fit in For the people you admire, research what they studied, if you are lucky, they might have written a book, been at conference or on a podcast to talk about their career path. Scour the internet for any little detail about how they got where they are now.
Find a student job/internship within the industry you want to work in
Student jobs can be just as good as internships in terms of gaining valuable experience in the working world, plus you get paid. To double the benefits, try to find one that is in your field of interest. It will give you a taste of the industry and you will learn to have a work ethic. When you’re only a student, you live your life at the pace of your classes but, when working or interning part-time will change your priorities. The people you meet while getting work experience can also form the foundation of your industry network and someone may remember your hard (and smart) work and recommend you for a role.
Have an online portfolio
It’s no secret that Instagram has become THE outlet to show your skills, so take advantage of the free platform to share your painting, writing, designing, styling etc.
The Dots is a lesser-known but equally brilliant online tool – it’s LinkedIn for creatives. Use it to follow your favourite companies, post your projects and connect with other creatives. It’s a fantastic resource at any stage of your creative career.
Get in touch
The digital age has made it is easy to contact people and ask them for advice, especially if you don’t know what career options your degree is relevant to. Look for people in your field of interest with a similar path to yours and ask them some of your burning questions. If you don’t where to start when writing an impactful email, read a PYT guide here.
Keep on studying
I wasn’t that confident with my English when I arrived in London. So while working I enrolled on an online course at the London School of Journalism. Every week I would send my tutor some homework and he would feedback with a list of books to read and new exercises to complete. It was hard because I was working full-time but it paid off. Your town may not have a school of journalism but there are plenty of online classes you can take advantage of!
TOP TIP: Don’t feel discouraged if you didn’t study anything creative, I didn’t but was still able to find a job by being informed and persistent.
Hopefully, my five tips will help you land a creative job but don’t be afraid to add some of your own; being creative in your hunt for work is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Words by Emmanuele Maréchal