7 tips for getting a career in the media or creative industries

You don’t need to have studied the media or creative industries to get a career in those sectors – any degree can be relevant.

Success rather depends on a set of personal attitudes and attributes, your work experience, and a willingness to learn.

But with potentially hundreds of applicants applying for even entry-level roles in the media and creative industries it’s important to do everything you can to stand out.

The following tips will help you focus on what you can be doing right now to help you get ahead.

1. Keep an open mind

It is unlikely that there will be a single definitive career path laid out before you, so don’t get trapped into thinking you will only work in one role or area.

People who succeed in these sectors tend to forge their own careers, switching between roles and even disciplines over time. They are often keen to learn and try anything.

2. Practise your craft

Your strongest asset when talking to employers is what you have previously done or produced, so the most important thing you can do is to build a portfolio.

Don’t be shy about referring to part-time jobs for example to showcase transferrable skills though – people in these sectors are usually interested in working with people with varied experience, and who are willing to try different things.

3. Be specific

It’s a lot easier for people to offer you work experience if you can be specific about what you’re looking for. For example, it’s much more helpful to say you’re looking to develop your Photoshop skills than to get experience broadly in “design” or “marketing”.

Being specific about what you want from an employer also makes for better conversations – the better you know what you’re looking for, the easier your interactions will be. Don’t be too picky however as you could end up missing out on a valuable opportunity!

4. Do your research

Always target your applications and communications to employers to a specific employer!

At the very least you need to understand who they are and what they do if you want them to take you seriously and give you some of their time.

If you can, aim to tell the employer what you know about their work and how you can make a positive contribution towards that. They’re then more likely to be interested in you.

5. Be persistent

You’ll almost certainly receive a lot of rejections, so your drive to succeed is critical. You will need energy, courage, and persistence to find a way in.

One way to succeed if you’re finding it difficult to gain purchase in larger organisations is to research smaller independent companies. Another good tip is to look at the credits for material you’ve enjoyed and see who you find!

6. Differentiate yourself

Don’t fall into making a generic application like “I am dedicated and hardworking…”.

Include a few sentences in applications about what makes you different.

You might showcase your specialisms, talk about relevant modules/ dissertations, or provide detail on extra-curricular activities.

7. Make the most of your work experience

Expect to have to tough out some dull or difficult work experience initially but remember each is a fantastic opportunity for you to learn more and build good relationships.

Ask how you can help, share your ideas, prove you’re a team player, make the most of any opportunity to go for coffee – or make someone a coffee!

Get talking to people and make a good impression – you may then get asked back.

Further resources:

For more information and sector-specific advice from a range of experienced speakers see our Media and Creative Industries Week 2018 Roundup on mycareer, and keep an eye out for the 2019 events next Spring, You can also check out our Publishing and Media web page.