What is it actually like working in a creative industry?

Since I started doing my film work i’ve learnt a lot. The film and TV industry and creative industries in general are a fascinating places to work with some great highs as well as some really tricky times too. The UK’s Creative Industries are world-leading. They are among the fastest growing industries in the economy and as you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you’re already interested in working in creative industry in the future. These are a few things i’ve learnt since I started.

Doing a creative job for a living is an enviable position to be in. It’s quite rare to be able to do something you’re passionate about for your day job, so if you manage to start and build a career in a creative industry, it’s likely you’ll enjoy a lot of job satisfaction. In a few cases, there’s the potential also to gain more than just job satisfaction, in the form of fame and wealth.

So it’s easy to see why working in the creative industries appeals to so many young and talented people.

However, the industries are not necessarily for everyone. Depending on your personality and what you feel is important to you in life, you may find that they’re not for you. And that’s absolutely fine – we all want different things in life.

Due to the way the industries are made up, with the majority of the workforce being freelance and most of the companies being small or microbusinesses, there are certain broad characteristics of life in the creative industries that you should know about, in case they make a difference to you. They don’t apply across all jobs in all of the industries – but they apply to many of them.

One of the biggest ones for me has been working hours. Lots of the work done by creative companies is project-based and deadline-driven. Companies and freelancers need to stay competitive, so timescales can often be tight. As a result, working hours can be longer than the average 8 hour-day office job, especially as the project deadline approaches. You may also find yourself working anti-social hours, such as evenings, at night and on weekends.

If you are someone who wants to work regular hours and keep your weekends free to do what you enjoy away from work, it’s worth bearing these irregular and often long working hours in mind.

There are definitely jobs throughout the industries that offer more regularity in working hours, and creative jobs in other industries that have more regular working patterns.

Many people manage their lives very happily in this uncertain world of projects and short-term contracts. However, others find it challenging, stressful or demoralising. Again, consider your own case – how important do you think it will be to you to have a more stable job, with a monthly salary, regular working hours and a company pension? Such roles do exist in the Creative Industries, but they’re not the norm.

Another big thing is pay, the financial rewards of working in the Creative Industries can be great, but particularly when you’re starting out, the fee you receive can be relatively small. In addition, as a freelancer working on fixed-term contracts, there may be lean periods when you have less work than you would like.

These are just a couple of things I’d always tell someone considering starting to work to consider because it can be really hard and there will be times you feel like giving up but if your passion is still there your ability will always shine through.

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