Preparing for a career within a creative industry

30 Aug, 2023

Choosing a career is a daunting experience.

And rightly so, Prospects, part of the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU), found in their 2023 survey that over a third of last year’s graduates already wanted to leave their current employer this year. Although the study suggests a need for employers to improve their early careers talent retention, this finding is also a strong indicator of the current (un)success young people are having in finding a career that suits them.

But how can a problem like this one be mitigated?

One solution might be found in the co-authored book, Design Your Life (2016), whose idea originated in a popular Stanford University course. Driven by a belief in design thinking, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans suggest that a successful career – or life – can be achieved by a ‘prototyping’ approach.

Significantly, according to them, ‘a prototype is not a thought experiment; it must involve a physical experience in the world.’

And it is this ‘physical experience’, out in the big wide world, that picks up on the magic of work experience.

Over the years, Libertine has welcomed a large variety of young people into its creative space; Singrid, who first entered the agency at the age of seventeen, has returned this summer for the fifth time, to complete an internship in the creative department. Of work experience in general, she said: ‘It’s important to gain the practical skills that education institutions just can’t teach you.’

Experiencing a workplace within the creative industry gives young people the opportunity to engage with those essential skills that can’t be learnt in the course of a university degree, such as the practical skills applicable to advertising, commercial awareness, and self-reliance. Something I found especially surprising during my time at Libertine was the emphasis on communication, which allowed everyone to achieve success within the agency through (rather than in spite of!) a team-driven mentality.

Work experience isn’t just about an immersion into a career sector, but also into its working environments. And its involvement is as much a practice in self-observation as it is about observing others.

For young people, being given the opportunity to experience different sectors, different settings, and to learn the essential skills for professional environments can provide an empowering tool to refine that overwhelming ‘oyster’ we are offered early on in life. Simply put, work experience allows young people to make better decisions about their futures. And this, in turn, also makes them better employees.

Design Your Life suggests we adopt two philosophies as designers of our own lives: ‘1. You choose better when you have lots of good ideas to choose from. 2. You never choose your first solution to any problem.’

This insight suggests how a curatorial approach to experiencing work can be a valuable tool for both young people, and their future employers alike.

Written by Alice and Singrid, who joined Libertine, 2023 summer internship.