How to Compete in the Work Force with No Financial Support
We’ve all heard that getting a creative degree is economic suicide, and it certainly can be crippling especially if one is without financial support. The truth of the matter is that post-grad is when you really find out how badly you want that career. Those who have financial support sometimes will not have to try as hard, but if you talk yourself into believing that not having the resources they do hinders your chance at success…you will never move past that. The reality of what occurs after you acquire your Bachelors degree is a battle between ambition and financial security, and deciding if you do actually have a novel in you rather than only the lust of one.
That ugly thing called debt.
Debt can be an invisible demon throughout university, where you are telling yourself that it is simply a reality of our day and age and you are using it to better yourself for future employment. All that reassuring makes debt seem ghost-like; that notion is torn down with the very first call from Student Loan Services inquiring about direct deposit options. So you get yourself a job unrelated to your degree while trying to generate revenue and inspiration from freelancing or commissioning gigs—all of this on very little living money. In reality, the more obstacles placed in front of a goal that is truly desired, the more driven to achieve it you are likely to become. Having no money will either completely derail you, or fuel you.
You must CONSTANTLY be submitting work in your field, whether it’s for galleries, magazines, newspapers, anthologies, zines….anything. even if there is no financial outcome, you are keeping yourself busy and that discipline will help you grow as well as prove to future employers that you are self-motivated. Maybe being on your own means that your networking opportunities are limited, but the reality is that if one sends thirty emails one will get at least a single reply. This persistence must be backed by a sufficient body of work, so never stop contributing to events and publications even if they are amateur-based.
Urgency and momentum.
One of the biggest fears artistic post-graduates face is losing creative momentum. This is something that cannot be avoided if the former student is in a race against bill deadlines, madly depositing the tips from their weekend job until they’re able to tap the payment button on their online banking app. Many writers wrap themselves in their accomplishments, but feel so far away from them at the same time. It’s a strange wonder how accomplishments are so quickly forgotten, until they eventually become lost. It’s the momentum of accomplishments that give outsiders the impression that you are successful. For artists and writers, the concept of becoming a ‘has-been’ is a daily fear. But if you are self-financed you are henceforth self-made, and that provides an innate urgency. While it may sound corny to hear “You make your own luck”, and “you can do it”, the reality is that if you have put yourself through university and are reading an article like this to figure out how to succeed…. you are extremely serious about this career.
Go to events.
Readings, gallery openings, concerts…put yourself inside the same four walls as people who make a living off of what you want to do. And talk to them! Even if it feels like you might be annoying, they were once exactly in your spot and will understand. Artists help other artists.
There is always a kind of romanticism surrounding art—something that drives us to it throughout our adolescence. University makes it clearer, and either wipes it out or fuels it. Post-graduation strips it of the romanticism to its bare bones and allows a clear view of what exactly you are committing to.