A crazy idea: how to get a job in the creative industry

A crazy idea: how to get a job in the creative industry
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In response to graduate Michael Tabet's recent piece about his struggle to find a job in the creative industry, recent graduate and co-founder of The Ripe, Tom Pitney, draws on his success story to share a few tips

Getting work experience in the creative industries is competitive. In the digital age, proactive youth can have the upper hand by surrounding themselves with likeminded people and together kick-starting their own careers.

Michael Tabet's recent piece in B&T was on the money. Gen Y-ers trying to break into the creative industries face a conundrum: "You need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience".

But the road to your big break might not be as rocky as you expect. There are an increasing number of creative young people taking matters in to their own hands.

Over the past year I've learnt that getting the experience you need isn't always a matter of landing a degree and firing off dozens of applications. Sacrifice some time, be proactive and it is possible to develop the skills you need without selling your soul to the photocopier/filing cabinet/tea room.

Having completed a BA Communication (public relations) degree, I was eager to marry my passion for music with the communication skills I had learnt, particularly in digital strategy. I faced with a similar problem to Michael. My career objectives lay in a foggy terrain.  

This got me talking to my old school friend, and soon to be business partner, Huw Nolan. We started to grasp just how many of our friends were stuck in similar positions across the fields of film, design, writing, editing and photography. We got talking to these people, quickly realising that we all skill-sets that could drive an aligned goal.

In February 2012, Huw and I launched our online project The Ripe, an online music blog dedicated to showcasing new music through original content. Its backbone: a collective of 20 young people combining their unique skills to create engaging online content featuring local music.

Our initial aim was to build experience, publish our work and develop our own industry network, so that we could later penetrate our desired industries. We had no money to fuel it, but more and more people facing similar professional barriers offered to contribute to the project in return for experience and exposure. The larger our network of contributors grew, the more our followers grew and the more people wanted to support our cause.

We realised we were able to offer bands, artists, venues and small businesses exposure on our site, and in turn they were happy to help support us through tickets to gigs, content and exclusive interviews. Very quickly we had started to develop a valuable network of connections.

It’s swiftly becoming a full-time role of managing people, content and external stakeholders, and we now face the issue of how to sustain it. We are investigating ways that we can offer our skills as services to other businesses.

We are taking on clients by offering a corporate video service, web development, copywriting and photography – allowing our young contributors to profit from the The Ripe’s success and also allowing us to reinvest in The Ripe.

In the digital age, young people do have the power to take their professional experience into their own hands. You can start your own projects, build networks and glean experience – just be creative.

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