This time last year, many graduates were thrust into the world of work during a period where every other sentence included the phrase “unprecedented times” and it was, to say the least, pretty daunting. In particular, those looking for work in the creative industry struggled to find their feet, although there were several local schemes put in place to support graduates.

A year on, things are feeling a little less unprecedented, but still far from being back to normal. If you’re a recent graduate looking to take your first steps in the industry, read on for a little advice from one creative to another.

Set goals and deadlines

If you’re anything like me, your creative brain won’t let you get anything done without a solid, non-negotiable deadline in place. Setting and sticking to these deadlines is really important to make sure you’re actually progressing instead of distracting yourself with interesting but unproductive tasks.

Whether it’s putting together a portfolio or taking a temporary position to make ends meet while building experience for your dream job, set goals, assign deadlines and uphold them religiously.

As well as keeping yourself on track, it’s great practice for working to deadlines, which you’ll be doing no matter which creative industry is your specialty. When inspiration and motivation are hard to find, a well-trained discipline is an absolute life saver.

Understand your value

It might be a bit of a stereotype, but creatives can often be a little timid and lacking in confidence, which makes us easy targets for those looking for a bargain.

Avoid working ‘for exposure’ or accepting low-paying jobs that require a high level of qualifications or experience. Know your value, shout about your talents and enthusiasm, and speak up for yourself if it feels like a client or employer is taking advantage of you.

It’s also a good idea to work on increasing your value as much as possible to open up more opportunities. This is a really productive use of any free time you may have now you’ve graduated. Take courses online, visit art galleries, immerse yourself in a different culture, and just do anything you can to add unique value to what you’re offering.

Don’t be afraid to move on

It’s no longer the norm that a person takes a role straight out of education and stays there until retirement.

Whatever your parents or senior colleagues may tell you, moving jobs is not a bad thing. Taking a new position at another company is a great way to get more experience, learn new skills, and even secure a pay increase.

Remember as well that there’s nothing wrong with leaving a role you’re not enjoying. As a creative, it’s important to be invested in and excited by the work you’re doing, and if you’re unfulfilled, it’s worth seeing what else is out there.

Define what success looks like to you

The only way to succeed in your hunt for a creative role is to define what that success looks like to you.

Success for one person might be a high-paying job in a capital city; another person might be happier with a lower salary but more creative freedom. Whatever you’re looking for, keep it in focus throughout your journey and take things one step at a time.

Learn as you go, and use your new experiences to guide the next steps on your journey. Not all steps will be in the right direction, but as long as you understand where each one fits on the route to your final goal, you can avoid being discouraged if you end up taking a little detour.