Valuable career advice to help students graduating this summer build on their success

You've handed in your final project. You're heading for the grades you worked so hard to achieve. Graduation is on the horizon and you're looking forward to raising a glass to a prosperous future.

But for many of you graduating this summer, you might not have considered what happens next. Who can blame you when you've had to contend with such a jam-packed schedule during your final year?

We might just have the answer. We've called upon the wisdom of the panel of experts who are judging this year's MullenLowe NOVA Awards at Central Saint Martins.

Working across art, design and advertising, we asked the judges to share their one piece of golden advice for students continuing their work after graduation. Here's what they had to say.

Find your "real world" tribe

"I wish it wasn’t so but the ‘real world’ is considerably less supportive of the artist than Central Saint Martins, and sometimes even downright hostile," says Laurence Green, executive partner, MullenLowe Group UK. "So, the burden now falls on you not just to ‘keep on creating’ but to find your way to new communities of the imagination: whether that’s in the shape of a creatively ambitious employer or elsewhere in the broader creative ecosystem."

Sid Motion, founder and director of Sid Motion Gallery agrees. She says: "Continue with the sense of community you found at college. I work with a lot of people who are really influenced by the people they surround themselves with, whether it be in collectives or in the studios they decide to work in. In their experience, they quickly missed the guidance of working with peers so if you can continue that while working on your own that’s going to be really beneficial."

Get organised and set goals

Naomi Troni, global chief growth officer at MullenLowe Group, believes you need to add structure to your life now that you're away from the classroom: "As you don’t have a final presentation to work towards, this is the time to choose your own path. You won’t have a regimented wave of projects so take charge of your destiny. Choose a goal and work really f***ing hard to achieve it."

Trust your own instincts

As you progress in your career, you'll come across many difficult decisions. Tony Spong, the managing partner at AAR Group, has some wise advice when faced with those challenges: "Hang on to your gut feel. You’ll get lots of advice, and you’ll seek lots of advice, but at the end of the day trust your gut. That will hold you in good stead."

Rory Hyde, the curator of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism at Victoria and Albert Museum, adds: "You have to listen to yourself, not people like me! My advice is if it’s good, keep going, keep doing it."

Never give up

Don't fall at the first hurdle either, adds Rachael Steven from Creative Review. "Don’t become disheartened or lose faith in yourself if you initially find it quite hard to get into the industry. Most of the people I know found it quite difficult at first or even took up lots of different projects or jobs, but they made their way in eventually. You’ll find the right people, project or connections, so don’t give up hope!"

Nathan Cook, global director of Advertising Innovation at Unilever, says you have to stick at it. "Keep thinking about your ideas, digging into your areas, researching and crafting the work to an excellent standard and doing so with an enormous amount of passion. It would be a shame if this was the last point in your journey. If you have a clear objective about the world that you want to put out, keep going and stay passionate."

Understand the power of self-promotion

Whether you work for yourself or someone else, don't forget to build your reputation and tell the world about yourself and your creativity. As Rachael Steven, associate editor of Creative Review, explains: "Share your work. Don’t stop just because the degree show has come to an end. Keep telling people what you’re doing – whether it’s through Instagram, on a website, getting in touch and knocking on doors – make sure you’re getting your work out there."

Take regular breaks to stay fresh

"When you’re tired, pause. When you’re stuck, pause. When you’re done, pause. But never stop," advises Jose Miguel Sokoloff, president of MullenLowe Group Creative Council and chief creative officer of MullenLowe Group UK.

Continue to push forward

Hannah Scott, a visual artist and Central Saint Martins alumni, says: "Keep making. Stay authentic to yourself and your work. You know when you’ve created a good piece of work, but you have to trust in yourself and keep pushing it out there."

"Continue to be fearless," adds Carolan Davidge, executive director of Marketing and Engagement at British Heart Foundation. "Just go out there, continue to push those boundaries and do your best!"


The MullenLowe NOVA Awards will be judged by a panel of experts across art, design and advertising. Shortlisted work can be viewed here.

The MullenLowe YourNOVA Award will be chosen by you! This is your chance to get involved and vote online for your favourite piece of work from the shortlist. Voting will open on 24 June and will close on 2 July. Head to mullenlowenova.com to find out more.

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