‘Get stuck in’: How to get work experience as a writer

01 Mar 2019
By Alicja W., Student at De Montfort University

Creative writing isn’t exactly the type of subject that people associate with employability. In fact, as I went about my uni life, I seemed to hear this from everyone. Even my tutors doubted that you could turn this subject into a salary.

I even attended lectures by industry professionals - publishers, editors, literary agents. All of them said ‘it’s difficult’ and ‘you probably won’t get into it unless you know somebody.’ This left me feeling hopeless and down, especially in my last year at university where the reality of work life was approaching.

Our generation’s advantage is being tech savvy, so it’s good to have proof of it.

TextI shared my worries with my friends, those at uni and those who had finished. The best advice I ever got from them was to ‘get stuck in.’ Now, this applies to every subject. If you are afraid that you might not get a job after finishing university, do your best to get experience now. I know how frickin difficult it is to find the time to get experience, let alone get the actual experience, especially in your last year. But hear me out.

Here’s what I did, and you could do too, to get creative work experience.

1) Start a blog

‘All we need is another fashion or technology blog,’ I can hear you saying. But that is not all you’re limited to. If you can, make a blog and a social media presence for it. This shows you can write, manage your time, and use social media.

Our generation’s advantage is being tech savvy, so it’s good to have proof of it. If you can, get a self-hosted blog. You can use this as your little corner of the internet, where you post updates about yourself and all the things you get up to that employers might find interesting. I can guarantee it’ll be more fun than social media.

2) Get involved in your uni paper

Your uni must have a paper, or a radio station or TV channel. If you’re lucky, it’ll have all three. For the society joining fee, you can become a part of the big media trio and enjoy being able to use your voice. You’ll also get an editor, who can help you improve your skills.

Don’t be afraid either, everyone’s in the same boat at uni, so enjoy the ride and don’t take it too seriously.

3) Write for free

I mean good voluntary work. You’d be surprised how much experience in writing you can get this way. Many charities will have pamphlets or websites and social media accounts that need updating - but that they can’t afford to pay for. You can offer up your time for free and help a cause you feel passionate about.

4) Talk and ask

Talk to everyone, and always ask questions. Speak to guest lecturers and get involved in whatever events go on around your area.

Look for open mic nights, they’re an amazing opportunity to practise public speaking and gain confidence. Literary festivals, creative festivals, local pub theatres - get out there and interact with the creative community.

You’d be surprised how much small things like this will improve your CV.

Living with Unite Students? Write for them

If you’re living in a Unite Students building this year, you can apply to join their Work With Us programme as a writer. You’ll get regular opportunities to write articles for other students, as well as detailed feedback to help you improve. Find out more about the Unite Students Work With Us programme.

Our generation’s advantage is being tech savvy, so it’s good to have proof of it.
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Alicja is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at De Montfort University.