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Alumni Careers Newsletter

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  2. Graduates
  3. Alumni Careers Newsletter

Alumni Careers Newsletter

In our latest Alumni Careers Newsletter, we hear from Drew on their experience with the Careers and Employability Service, the main advice they would give to others post graduation and thoughts on social media!

Read Drew's words and advice:

What careers advice do you wish you’d received when you were still a student?

Rachel Gradwell, my careers adviser at the time (arguable one of the best around but maybe I’m biased) was a major influence in where my career is currently by giving me a piece of advice that really stuck, and that overtime I full steamed ahead with. Which was to set up, post & keep active on LinkedIn.

At the time, I didn’t realise how major of a decision this was going to be. About a year or so before graduating I sat down with RG and posed the question of how on earth do I get my name out there, my creative work in front of people and of course - how do I get jobs?!

Being fresh to Sheffield for University, I had no reputation, connections or anything of the sort - that’s what I wanted to build. If I remember right, it was an hour-long session where RG and myself ran through the process of setting up, refining and super charging my LinkedIn profile. From profile photo, profile description, work experience and education achievements. It takes longer than you think writing that all down, but trust me - it pays off.

From there I started writing more, creating more & just overall posting more. While I was posting on all forms of social media at the time, I got the most professional leads through LinkedIn. While Instagram is about admiring work, LinkedIn is about getting more work. Local people from companies & similar professions started to reach out and the rest is history.

Make connections, have conversations, make friends & be nice.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since graduating?

The most important lesson I've learnt since graduating is trial and error.

A big lesson that I picked up not too long after graduating - sometimes things you try work and sometimes they don’t. The important thing is that you try it out. I currently work as a Motion Designer but it took trial and error to find that this is what I loved to do.

Also had projects fail, decisions backfire and made bad calls. Over time however, that’s made me a much better designer and communicator. Why? Learning from those errors is vital. Learning allows you to avoid those mistakes as best as you can when they come around again. It's a major stepping stone in improving overall.

It might be a career path, a project, a decision or something entirely different - but as long as you keep trying something will eventually stick.

You'll be glad you stuck it out when that moment finally strikes.

What one thing would you tell your undergraduate self if you could go back in time?

“It takes longer than you think’

When I was an undergrad, I always thought that doing as much work as possible was the way to keep improving. While doing the work is important, trying to do it all at once and as fast as possible is a clear shot to burn out.

These things take time, growth and improvement aren’t something that happens overnight. As much as I knew this when I was an undergrad, I didn’t quite understand the timeframe. A few weeks? A few months? It doesn’t matter in all honesty, it’s just about being consistent and always turning up. Even when you really don't want to.

You’ll always be improving if you’re doing it right, but the bar you set for yourself will always be raising.

This is known as ‘The Gap’. There are plenty of articles and books out there that talk about this idea - if you get the chance to give it a read, it really puts things into perspective.

How did you use LinkedIn at university and how do you use it now?

At University, I used LinkedIn mainly to make connections, have chats with people in the industry, local to me & keep an eye on what jobs were floating around from the people I’d connected with. All focused on getting my foot in the door.

Now, I’m in a very fortunate position where I’m through the door after doing this for 3 full years. LinkedIn now has evolved and changed entirely along with where I put my focus on it. While I still use it for having chats with people that I admire along with the work they put out, I also use it for sharing client work, personal work and any other work-related thoughts that I have. Since I’m already in the industry circles that I pushed so hard to get into, those posts end up scattered all over people's feed now just by purely being interacted with. LinkedIn's potential for organic reach is massive, the most accessible out of all social media platforms by far.

Complete side note, my most viewed and interacted with LinkedIn post of all time is a meme I made that took me 5 minutes tops. It’s currently on 250k views and 4k likes, it’s been over a year and it still gets attention. Sometimes posts do great, sometimes they don’t - stay consistent long enough and soon they won’t be able to open the app without seeing your name.

What types of social media do you use and why are they important to your business and career?

My career is visual focused, and because of that I focus on LinkedIn and Instagram currently. I’ve got most other social media platforms too. Twitter, TikTok etc which I still use, but in a much more casual sense.

LinkedIn and Instagram have been and will most likely be a staple in my freelance business and career for quite some time. Over time I’ve had a steady amount of growth over both platforms, made some great friends, colleagues and found some people that really do want to stick around and see what I’m putting out there. The same as I do with them too.

These platforms let me share what I can do and/or gets me in front of people. Sometimes ‘that one post from that one guy I saw a few weeks ago’ can lead to great opportunities.

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