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Career Options in Art & Design: Student

Being an undergraduate art and design student is pretty fun, right? Whether you’re testing out your latest fashion creations on housemates or padding out your place with furniture you made yourself, your creative skills are growing and portfolio is blossoming. But can you be doing anything else to ensure that you’re in pole position to jump into the world of work as soon as you finish your degree?

Opportunities available to undergraduates

- Work experience and internships

- University societies

- Proactivity and imagination!

As soon as you get to university and the Fresher Week hangovers have worn off you should be looking for opportunities to increase your experience and expand your network in the industry. Whether it be interning as a fashion assistant over the summer or shadowing a local web designer for a few hours a week, it’s highly recommended that you get some work experience under your belt as a means to show employers that you’re a hard grafter as well as a creative soul. Larger companies may offer an official internship programme, but for smaller, perhaps more local businesses, you may have to do the groundwork yourself and send a speculative cover letter or email.

You could also join some university societies, and you should think outside the box when it comes to doing this too. Knitting society is a no-brainer if you’re wanting to enter the textile industry. Likewise for video games society if you want to become a games programmer following your computer science degree. However if you’re in looking at going into theatre stage or costume design, perhaps it could be worth writing play reviews for your student newspaper or asking about the possibility of having your own behind-the-scenes vlog.  

Finally, because you’re wanting to go into a creative industry, you should be creative (well, duh) about the ways to showcase your skills. Organise a charity fashion show that showcases the work of students at your university or set up a henna tattoo event charging a small fee to those who want one. This will show employers that you also engage with the business side of the industry and that you’re able to come up with new ways to generate a few pennies.

Deadlines to consider

Alongside your final projects and exam revision you’ll need to be thinking about applying for graduate and entry level jobs. Each is likely to have their own deadline so make sure to stay on top of things and give yourself ample time to send in a quality application for each one.

Official internship programmes will also have their own deadlines too but you should remain on the ball to sound out other work experience. In busy periods, some sectors may want somebody to start as soon as possible in order to meet deadlines and satisfy clients.

If you’ve built yourself a decent network, a company you worked with as an intern could be prepared to take you on full-time. Alternatively, see if your university tutors have any contacts in the industry. In some cases, it’s who you know, not what you know! 

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