Degree – Jt Honours in Archaeology and Medieval History
Current Job – DJ, Producer, Promoter, Blogger
I am one of those very lucky people who have managed to carve out a career doing what I love. I get up in the morning looking forward to hitting the office/studio, my work is also my hobby and my passion, that’s not to say its not hard work, the hours are long and often anti-social. I can be out working till 4 and back in the office again by 9, in some degree I work 7 days a week. I guess it’s something that I fell into by luck rather than design. I was brought up in a bar/music venue and there was always music equipment lying around and a set of decks set up so I used to come back from school and play around on the decks, eventually getting good enough to take over as the resident DJ in the venue. Throughout Uni I made extra cash by returning home to play parties and picked up a couple of gigs in Glasgow where I was studying. When I wasn’t working or studying, I was likely to be found in record shops or clubs learning about music and how the DJ’s worked a crowd.
It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my course; I’d enjoyed history at school and had a great time at Uni. For Archaeology, I travelled to digs all over the UK, Europe and Middle East meeting some great people along the way and finding some very cool stuff. I also worked in museums and galleries; my course was fun and taught me lots of skills which I utilise in my business now. I am very well organised, I always have a weekly schedule and 3 month schedule on the go and set myself deadlines which I stick to, I am also on top of my finances.
I could definitely have seen myself working in history or archaeology but it’s safe to say that jobs were at a premium when I graduated and as I moved further away from academia, I became more passionate about DJing picking up some big gigs and promoted nights along the way and never really looked back.
I fell into what I do now organically but over the years I have learned many useful lessons about how to work for myself and promote my business.
Here are some of the key aspects of working for yourself or changing career after uni.
Finances – First and foremost it’s having enough cash to follow your heart; obviously I am lucky in that my chosen job has immediate possibilities for earning money. That said, over the years I have done many aspects of the job where musically it was nowhere near what I was into musically simply to keep the lights on. Once you have decided what it is that makes you happy look right across the board for opportunities, there are always gaps which can be filled and if you can tie that in with gaining experience all the better. Don’t be afraid to start on the bottom rung, it helps to understand all aspects of the business and if you are motivated and use your experience wisely, you will soon shine and move on. That said give yourself time limits, once you have picked up all the knowledge of a particular role it’s time to move on, don’t get trapped and let yourself stagnate. Never lose sight of your main goal, always allow yourself enough time to concentrate on always moving towards it.
Contacts – If your course is no longer the driving force and you have decided on making a fresh career, you need to start making as many contacts as possible. Work out an industry hit list, start local and work your way up. Don’t be afraid to approach the right people for advice and offer your services. Just make sure you have thought through what it is that you want to learn before a meeting and what you have to offer anyone you approach for a job. Do some background reading before you approach them, it helps to know how they got there and their vision, try to understand their business as much as possible to make the most of the opportunity if they agree to meet you.
Experience is essential, try to put yourself in a position where you can learn from the best and make as many notes as possible. Very importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you can’t get a paid job for your new career choice then find a job which doesn’t take too much time up to pay the bills and offer to do unpaid work in your spare time. Just make sure that whatever you do for £ is as painless as possible and spend the rest of the time working towards the bigger picture. Unpaid work often leads onto paid rolls if you are determined.
Your brand – It is absolutely essential that everything that you are handing in or using to promote yourself be it a CV, cover letter or examples of your work are of the highest standard possible. This also goes for your social media presence, be fully aware that any prospective employer will be looking your social media so make sure that it all works together to paint the picture that you want prospective employers to see. If you need branding get it done properly, spend that extra bit of time and money to get something professional, ask around friends and family for recommendations on designers but make sure you check out examples of work on anyone who is recommended before you commit to giving them your work. Once you have someone suitable, give them as tight a brief as possible so do your research and think about how you want people to perceive you.
Perseverance – Don’t take no for an answer. The harder you work the more opportunities you will get and if something doesn’t quite go your way take the time to work out why and what you could have done better, learn from every experience. Most of all put yourself out there, meet as many people working in your field as possible either via the net or even better in person, if you’re working on something artistic send your work out and promote it hard.
And most of all have fun. If you’re not having fun it’s time to rethink those career choices.
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