Why it’s important to support young creatives in lockdown
How can we make sure that those starting their career while in lockdown are still getting the informal experience that’s vital in building our next generation of creative leaders?
Why are you drawn to the creative industries?
Perhaps it’s the idea of conjuring up award-winning campaigns that capture the attention of millions, or is it the brutal thrill of a pitch process followed by the promise of that first post-pitch-pint?
Maybe it’s simply the knowledge that creativity is fun.
Our industries are packed with smart yet dynamic people, the office is buzzy, and if you want it, you can bank on your work to provide you with a healthy social life, no matter the day of the week.
So, in this time of crisis, where we are all cooped up in our homes working for the most part, alone, and so much of what we love about our work has been removed, these are undoubtedly tricky times.
However, I am sparing a particular thought for those who are making their first steps into a career in the creative industries.
Perhaps you were on some particularly awesome work experience when the lockdown came into force or you’re in the first year of your dream job.
By now you could have tasted the sweetness of landing a killer idea in a client brainstorm, you might have joined your company footie team and finally mastered everyone’s names, hell you might even have won your first piece of business.
And while the spirit of the creative industries has not evaporated (we had someone singing lockdown inspired tunes on our team call today), it’s vital we preserve the culture of learning which is so critical when your foot is just through the door.
While those lucky enough to have a dedicated HR department may see the benefit of fantastic online learning platform innovations, many smaller agencies, contract workers and freelancers may not have this luxury.
Likewise, while these platforms can be extremely useful for receiving list-like practical guidance, these often ‘one way’ interactions are no substitute for unadulterated growth by experience.
When I reflect on my career, I grew through eavesdropping on senior leaders as they advised our clients’ Communications Directors; sitting in on countless strategy sessions, making pages of notes of half-finished sentences; and having too many glasses of wine with unofficial mentors who, through their war stories, taught me the callous truth of life in the working world.
So, how can we make sure that those coming up through the ranks while in lockdown are still getting this valuable life experience?
A few suggestions for those senior leaders who have the power to make a difference:
- Ask yourself, what would you be missing? Think about all the things you found valuable and fun when you started out and build an unofficial support plan to bring this to life.
- Ask your junior team what you can help with – when we’re working alone with no ‘real time’ visibility over workloads or states of mind, it’s easy to forget that some may be questioning their own judgement or struggling with decisions without feeling comfortable enough to ask questions. This is particularly true at junior level when lack of experience can lead to crisis of confidence. We must always offer guidance, even when it’s not asked for.
- Extend invitations to as many things as you can – the office environment lends itself to a meeting culture and at a junior level attending these sessions afford you unbeatable insights. Many of us are now making direct calls to clients and colleagues, which risks excluding those who might benefit from hearing the conversation. Take the time to reflect on who is included in which discussions and ensure all those who should be listening are doing so.
- Help others build their networks – it is undoubtedly harder to network with industry peers during lockdown yet getting into the habit of network building is so important from the outset. So, use this time to be generous and share your professional relationships with others who could use an introduction.
- Spare some social time – it could be a 5pm drink or a morning bacon bap. Get to know your junior team in a personal capacity so they remain reassured there’s more to working life than the daily grind of lockdown.
These small acts of care and kindness will not just be appreciated in the short term, they’ll prove vital in building our next generation of creative leaders. A legacy which will last well beyond the lockdown.
Georgina is a Director in MHP’s financial services practice, and a Board Member of female creative talent programme Ok Mentor.