Paige Giles (1st year BA Film student) writes about the ‘What can I do with an arts degree?’ event, a student-led discussion about their perceptions of what makes an Arts graduate employable in the creative industries and what the steps to success look like post pandemic.
5 min read.
On 05 May 2021, as part of the OBU Creative Industries Festival 2021, a student-led panel discussed employability and the uses of an Arts degree within the creative industries. A range of students from different years and courses within the School of Arts took part in the discussion, including myself and:
- Philippa Lloyd (2nd year BA Graphic Design student)
- Laura Evans (2nd year BA Media, Publishing and Journalism student)
- Katie Barnsley (2nd year BA Fine Art student)
- Cameron Lindsell ( BA Film student)
- Emma Brink-Morrison (BA Film student)
Opening the event, we spoke about our confidence in moving forward from university into a career. For second and third-year students, the importance of networking and identifying possible pathways was highlighted. As a first-year student, the prospect of leaving university is perhaps not as imminent as it may be for others, though I do feel that through the first year modules we have begun to prepare to enter the film industry and we will continue to be supported through our remaining years.
The value of support and guidance was also a part of our discussion; Laura Evans, a Media, Publishing and Journalism student said that her course leader provides students with a newsletter that includes internship and job opportunities. This has been very useful to students who are searching for pathways into the industry and want to network. As a group, we reiterated the importance of networking as the nature of the industry means that having strong connections will likely lead to more opportunities and offers.
We further discussed how students could seek out such opportunities. We established that saying yes to all opportunities offered, no matter how small or strange, was vital. From this, the issue of confidence was raised; some students may not have the confidence to take that first step and put themselves forward for a job. We suggested that course leaders could provide help by identifying which students need this support and recommend to them some small jobs or opportunities to increase their confidence.
As Arts students, we identified that measuring success within the creative industries was not as simple as success or failure. As the nature of art is subjective, finding success may be a question of finding the right audience for our work, and setting realistic goals to aim for.
During the second part of the event, we considered the perception of an Arts degree in comparison to STEM subjects. Since Arts courses are facing major funding cuts, it is clear to us that arts degrees are undervalued and regarded as less important than STEM degrees. Philippa, who is studying Graphic Design, said that many of her secondary school peers went on to study STEM subjects despite having creative tendencies and talents. We had also noted that there was widespread encouragement to pursue STEM subjects in secondary school. We highlighted how the creative industries aid and enhance STEM fields, for example through the combination of design and engineering.
The panel then discussed the issue of diversity within the industry. It was suggested that competitiveness and awards categories radically reduce the level of diversity that could be reached, by narrowing the window of exposure. Within the creative industries, diversity is important as a range of voices contribute to art and enhance our experiences and perspectives.
Guest speaker Lucinda Whitely from Novel Entertainment provided an outside perspective on her experience working in the industry. Lucy Turner, School of Arts Employability Champion, facilitated the event and discussed how she can further help students to find pathways into a career.
As a first-year student, especially after being off campus and missing out on such discussions in classrooms, the event was really beneficial in learning and discussing what the university and partnering organisations can do to help students.
I would encourage students to look through the upcoming events in the Creative Industries Festival as there are a range of both useful and interesting events scheduled.