2021 creative graduate check list

2021 Graduate Checklist

As you come to the end of your course you will have a to-do list as long as your arm…

  • Write Disseratation

  • Hand in Final Project

  • Craft a Portfolio

  • Make a Website

The list goes on… and everything that’s not immediately crucial gets pushed to the end (or off the end). And you know what? That’s completely fine. You’ve got enough on your plate as it is, and the more time you can commit to your final months on a course the better.

But when you are ready, when you have graduated… we’ve written up a checklist of things that might be good to set up in your first few months outside of art & design school. 

giphy You Can Do This gif

You may have covered some of these six points within your degree, or have an idea about them already, but sometimes it’s good even just to put pen to paper to formalise these for later use:

–  Join a mentoring scheme

–  Write up your CV

–  Keep your creativity up with a side project

–  Network online

–  Start a group with your classmates to share tips and resources

–  Set your day rate


Join a mentoring scheme

Education cannot teach you everything, unfortunately. 

Mentoring schemes are great for exposing you to different roles and companies within the creative industries. Joining a mentoring scheme can help you feel a lot less isolated, providing you with a link to the industry and a space to ask silly questions and soak up the information. Throughout the pandemic a few mentoring schemes have sprung up offering a variety of different experiences in a few different fields. 

Here are a few of our favourites:


Write up your CV

You may have written up a CV as part of a hand-in for your course, but now is the time to solidify it.

Make sure you have a copy of your CV that is relevant for the jobs you’re now applying to. It’s perfectly normal to explore your career options after finishing a degree and dabble in different areas of art and design as you experiment with your career. Your CV should reflect your hopes and aspirations! If you are applying to a range of jobs then consider creating more than one CV with each one really tailored to each job type. 

You can find loads of resources online about how to create the perfect CV, but one experienced creative recruiter who has a lot of knowledge on the topic is Nikky Lyle. Nikki has put her knowledge into a package available here.


Keep your creativity alive with a side project

Job applications can be a bit dry sometimes, and in the current economic climate it can also be incredibly draining and uninspiring. It’s important to retain a balance in your work between the admin that needs to be done and the creative side that inspires you.

Side projects don’t have to be massive! It’s understandable to not have the funds or time to jump into a massive side hustle. A side project could be as small as one sketch a week, a haiku or a short animation.

The other benefit to having a creative side project on the go is to be able to talk about it during a job interview. The gap on your CV can be easily talked away if you can mention a self-directed creative project you’ve been working on.


Network online

LinkedIn might not feel like the most creative platform in the world, but there’s a lot of creative connections to be made on there. The Dots is another good option, it is similar to LinkedIn but also has the ability to host your portfolio on the site. Consider joining both!

It might seem intimidating reaching out to your hero agencies, but below we’ve drafted a short message that you could use to connect with these industry leaders! Customise it however you want.

Hi [Name], I am a recent graduate in the [subject area] field. I’m hoping to add you to my network so that I can follow along and learn more about the work you are doing and further my understanding of the [area] industry. Thank you, [Name].


Start a group with your classmates to share tips and resources

Your peers are not your competition! Your peers are your support system, your inspiration and your future network. 

Often the education system can make creativity seem like a competition. You’re graded, measured and labelled as a top tier, second tier or third tier student… but that’s not how creativity works! One idea might fit the tutor’s brief better than another, but the world after education isn’t full of straight briefs. It’s much more collaborative. 

Because of this, and numerous other reasons, you should stay in touch with your peers after you graduate. You should share resources and tips that you have found useful, job platforms that you use and connections that you think would be helpful. Not only that, but you should share your journey with your peers, and understand that the shiny world of social media is a very skewed interpretation of success. Of course, you know all of this already. We are not ignorant to the misconceptions that social media subjects us too, but humanising your peers and re-realising this every day is an important part of your growth as a creative. 


And lastly, set your day rate

Now, a day rate isn’t closely applicable to every profession. You might be looking for a full-time role, you might be working on a project-by-project basis, or you might be working on a commission basis… But having a figure in mind for whichever of these feels relevant to you will help you in the long run. You’ll know if someone gives you a figure how realistic it is to continue those conversations.

There are pros and cons to each of the billing methods. For instance, day-rates can work well to protect you from endless client changes as it makes the client critically aware of the time they are using. But on the other hand, a client might feel like they can’t afford more of your time and so the project might never reach its full potential.

There are several different formulas that you can use to empower your costing decisions and work out if a day-rate, hourly-rate or project-by-project cost suits you best. A variety of these are available online, and they can walk you through finding different calculations that add your materials costs to your time costs, and get you thinking about the Intellectual Property rights of your work too. 

One of these online resources we’ve heard good things about is The Price Is Right by Intern Mag, or another option is Creative Champs.

For the purposes of full transparency; none of the resources referenced in this article are paying us to promote their online courses. At FreshMeet, we only promote resources that we either have seen multiple good reviews for online, or come from a source that we respect and trust. If you have used any of these resources then we’d love to hear an impartial review! 

Now you’re entering the industry, perhaps consider joining our database of emerging talent to open yourself up to our opportunity pool and stay in touch with our future initiatives!