Whatever job you are doing at the moment, you are most certainly equipped with a variety of invaluable skills to transfer to any new job within the cultural industries. It is sometimes hard to think of your particular job as one offering many abilities, but if you sit down and think carefully at what you do every day, you will find you most certainly have at least some or all of the following: communication skills, organisational capabilities, the ability to work under pressure, the ability to meet deadlines, I.T. skills, flexibility, adaptability and so on and so forth, as this list could be endless. All of the above mentioned skills are gener-ally referred to as ‘transferable’, which are those skills that every employer will look for and appreciate in a new recruit.
But what about when you, say, have decided that you want to stop being a secretary and start being a graphic designer? Or you want to go for a career as a proofreader? This is where further training comes into play.
THE RIGHT TRAINING
If you have managed to have a look around at a good selection of job descriptions and ads, you should now have a fairly good idea of what you need to do to take you further near your new job. Choosing the right training (or re-training) will perhaps be the most im-portant investment you will make in terms of time and money.
A lot of courses and further education can be done in your spare time and outside your working hours, which presents a great advantage if you do not feel like taking the plunge and just leaving your current job for the next one. If this is your choice it would ideally mean that you would do your training in a sixth-form college in the evening. A good starting point to look for your course would be a website called www.hotcourses.com, which gives the opportunity to find virtually every course in the UK, from part time to undergraduate; just make sure you double check the course is still available with the actual institution of-fering the course. OFSTED is the body responsible for overseeing the quality of teaching and what any college has to offer: you can see their most up-to-date inspections at www.ofsted.gov.uk, under the heading ‘Inspection Reports’, which might help you in choosing your school.
If, however, you are happy to just quit your current job and go for training full time, it might be worth considering doing a full degree programme. In fact, you might have noticed how on many of the jobs offered by the publishing industry and advertising agencies, having a related degree is an essential requirement of the position. If you want to opt for a degree, your first point of contact should be the UCAS website, the one and only way to apply for all undergraduate university courses in the UK (with very few exceptions). The one advan-tage about applying for a degree course is that you have to make your application almost a year in advance, and would also go for an interview, and ideally be offered a place, well in advance of your course starting, which in turn would give you plenty of time to prepare.
Although some of the universities in the UK are more famous than others, in all fairness it should be pointed out that all institutions are similar in quantity and quality of teaching. Having said that, it is also true that if you choose to do a degree, the university you apply to will be your home from home for three years, which can fly by in the right place but can drag horribly if you make the wrong choice. The best way to choose is to go to an open day and get a feel for the campus and what is available beyond teaching, such as pastoral and financial support.
Some universities will offer very specific courses (for example, ‘Puppetry’ at the University of London or ‘Philosophy and Scriptwriting’ at Staffordshire University), so if you are set on doing something very particular, you might not have a choice. However, a lot of universi-ties offer more ‘mainstream’ degrees, such as English with Creative Writing, Graphic De-sign and Journalism, which will give you a far wider choice of institution.