The arts sector offers an incredible range of exciting and diverse career options. However, navigating it and figuring out how to get onto your chosen career path can be unclear.
The creative industries don’t tend to mass recruit so you might have to think a bit differently about how you find and approach opportunities.
Understanding what kinds of experience and qualifications you need in order to pursue your desired career is an important first step.
Many industries expect to see a portfolio or are looking for specialist skills. Our sector guides are a great place to start when looking to kick-start a career in the arts.
These helpful guides have tailored information and advice about industries such as the performing arts, digital media, and heritage.
Finding work opportunities
Finding opportunities in the arts can be more difficult than in STEM. Less opportunities are widely advertised in the arts industries, particularly in very competitive sectors such as film and television.
Making speculative applications is therefore a great way to target your energies towards the companies and the roles that you would like. Even if your application is not successful, speculative applications can be a great way to get on a company’s radar and make connections which may help you in the future.
For some, the New Year may have brought renewed energy to accomplishing personal career goals in 2023. Read on to find out practical steps to support a successful graduate job search. Our tips will help you prioritise tasks to make the most of the time you have available.
Cressida, year 2 Law (MA), has been working as a Career Peer Support Assistant at the Careers Service since September 2021. She has worked predominantly with the Employer Engagement Team, which build relationships with employers and create networking and job hunting opportunities for you through careers fairs, skills sessions, and much more.
“It’s been two long years of virtual events, but, kick off your slippers (let’s face it, they’ve seen better days), rummage through the depths of your wardrobe for something other than pyjama bottoms, and step into the light! Our flagship careers event is back; it’s in person, and with over 70 employers from a variety of sectors, it’s all designed for you to Get Hired!” (more…)
Transform Societyis a network of social change programmes (Teach First, Police Now, Unlocked, Think Ahead, NGDP and Frontline) that together, are working to develop the public service leaders of the future. By partnering with Transform Society, the University of Bristol is showing a commitment to helping increase the number and diversity of high-calibre graduates taking up roles on community impact programmes.
Hannah Altendorff studied Sociology and Social Policy at Bristol, graduating in 2008, and then went on to do a master’s degree in Human Rights at the University of Sussex. She is now a Mental Health Social worker with Think Ahead.
We caught up with Hannah to hear about what she has been up to…
I am Sammi and I am the Student Marketing and Comms Assistant at the Careers Service alongside doing my master’s in International Security. Working at Careers has opened my eyes to the amazing support on offer to students, so I thought I would share with you the five Careers resources, that I wish I had known about sooner, to help you get ahead of the game.
Are you an overseas student, looking for work in the UK, but short on time?
We know there are lots of competing demands on international students’ time. Often juggling both independent and group assignments, and this year, adjusting to doing this remotely online. In normal circumstances adapting to a new culture, city, and education system presents enough to be getting on with. On top of all this, is the task of finding graduate work. This can be time consuming as an international student. From getting to know the UK jobs market to understanding the graduate visas available. Not to mention choosing roles you have an interest in and feel you could contribute to.
International student job portal, Student Circus, advertises internships, placements and graduate jobs across a range of sectors and company sizes, from start-ups to large multinationals.
It is an exciting time for international students! If you are graduating from this summer, you will be able to apply for the new Graduate visa, to stay in the UK and work or look for work for two years, or three years if you have a PhD.
The main benefit of this route over the Skilled Worker visa is that you do not need an employer to sponsor you. Here are 3 steps you can take now to make the most of this opportunity.
Step One – Clarify your goals
Do you want to work in the UK for the longer term, say 5 years, perhaps more? Or do you prefer to get some shorter-term experience here, before returning to your home country, or working elsewhere in the world?
If you only want to work in the UK for a couple of years, you don’t need to worry about sponsorship anymore – you can simply apply for the Graduate visa!
If you want to stay in the UK long-term, look for a sponsored job through the skilled worker visa. Register for Student Circus – the UK graduate schemes and jobs on this website are all ones that employers have confirmed they will sponsor.
The Graduate visa gives you more time
If you haven’t secured a sponsored job before your student visa expires, you can apply to the Graduate visa, start working for an employer, and then apply to continue working for them on the Skilled Worker visa – as long as the necessary criteria are met.
You also have further chances to apply to sponsored graduate schemes, which tend to open every Autumn (see our international student timeline for getting a job in the UK).
Remember, some employers may not be fully familiar with the Graduate visa, or the Skilled Worker visa. For the Skilled Worker visa, employers need a licence to sponsor, and the job you are applying to needs to fulfil certain criteria to be one they are able to sponsor. It’s important to educate yourself so that you can explain these rules to employers if necessary.
As an international student you have a lot to offer UK employers. You have gained subject-specialist knowledge from your degree(s), and important skills from work experience (including volunteering) in your home country, and hopefully the UK. If you haven’t got UK work experience yet, it’s helpful if you can gain some. View our Intro: Finding work experience and internships in the UK and find out about our SME internship scheme.
Most importantly, you will have a global mindset, cultural knowledge and often language skills such as Mandarin or Arabic, that are in high demand. This can help you stand out. Watch our Intro: Communicating your value to Home and UK employers and reflect on the skills, knowledge and experience you have as an international student who has studied in the UK.
Step Three – Adopt a targeted job search strategy
Research employers who will value what you have to offer
Consider this story for example: an Indian student taking an MEng in Aerospace Engineering focuses on contacting aerospace employers who see India as an important strategic partner. She discovers that the UK India Business Council has published Advocating Business Success in 2020, which highlights the founding members of a new Aerospace and Defence Industry Group, launched to “support and build on the huge opportunities for collaboration that exist between the defence industries of the UK and India”. This gives her a target list of employers as well as important commercial context she can reference, to stand out in her applications and at interview.
To find UK employers who are likely to value your home country knowledge, start with finding the membership organisations relevant to you. Search the name of your home country, or wider region, and add “UK” and “business membership” or “Chamber of Commerce” to find their website(s). Then, familiarise yourself with their membership lists and sector reports.
Don’t just limit yourself to well-known, larger employers – in the UK, over 99% of employers are SMEs (small or medium sized enterprises employing fewer than 250 people). SMEs are often able to recruit more flexibly and may give you a greater range of experience and responsibility than a larger employer.
Find advertised jobs – or access the hidden job market
You may find your target employers are advertising roles through Student Circus or on their websites. If they aren’t, consider approaching them speculatively: this can lead to employers hiring you in what is known as “the hidden job market”. Send a cover letter and tailored CV demonstrating the value you believe you can bring, and follow up with a phone call to see if you can arrange an exploratory meeting.
Meeting with employers does involve networking – which we know can seem terrifying! But don’t let that put you off coming to talk to some of the 300 plus employers that come to Careers Service events every year. There’s so much you get from coming along. Here’s our top five:
1. Productive research
Coming along to a large scale employer event, like one of our Sector Spotlight Series (27 October to 11 November) events, is a great way to get a lot of information quickly. There’s no better bang for your buck than being able to research multiple employers on the same day.
2. Insider information
As you’ll be speaking directly with employers, you get the inside scoop on the work culture and can get answers to questions that aren’t on their website or FAQs list. Employer representatives might include recent Bristol graduates who can tell you all about their work. Come and get the gossip!
3. Work experience opportunities
Employers come to our events because they want to hire Bristol students. They will have work experience and internships on offer as well as graduate jobs. Recruiters will often hire people to their full time roles that have completed work experience with them, so you can get in there early.
4. Get ahead
Meeting employers in person (even if that is through Zoom!) is the best way to make a good impression. The people you meet might be a future interviewer, so you can make a good contact and start to stand out from the crowd early on. You can also ask for tips on making applications 👍
5. Something for everyone
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting to explore your options or ready to apply for opportunities, you can get useful information from an employer. The range of employers we connect with is huge – large and small, local and international – and from a huge array of sectors.
We’ve been in this position for the last ten years, so we’re not going to let this new, mostly digital world stop us! This autumn term, we are bringing over 100 employers directly to you through our Careers Showcase Week and Autumn Fair (19 to 23 October).