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Kickstarting your career: advice from UCA graduates

Whether you're about to start university, or you're a current student approaching graduation, you may be wondering about the longer journey ahead - what will post-university life have in store? To help you prepare for your working life after graduation, we’d like to share some words of wisdom and encouragement from those who’ve already been through the process.

A selection of our alumni, who now work in wide-ranging creative roles, offer their advice about starting out in their industries after graduation...


Stephen Webster, creative director of luxury jewellery brand:

“Be patient and get some good training from an expert. This may seem a little traditionalist but this is a slow, traditional business with very few overnight stars. However, if you make it, it is also one of the greatest industries. We work with the finest materials, create things that make people happy, and if you are lucky, you get to see the world too.”

Elliott Kerrigan, BBC script writer:

“Relax, don’t over analyse everything. Take time to enjoy the journey. And no matter what the job, just do it, get your foot in the door. You never know who you’re going to meet. I don’t believe the phrase ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. It should be ‘It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you’. And one more piece of advice I’d give is never give up. Great things take time.” 

Sarah-Jane Adams, journalist and entrepreneur:

“I think it’s important for creative graduates to have, or learn, a really solid understanding of the business elements involved in running a brand, otherwise you’ll find it difficult to balance your talent with the amount of admin involved and the marketing savvy you need to promote your work.” 

Sullivan Gardner, graphic designer:

“Designing things for friends and family is a great way to get a real-life working portfolio together. And make sure you get yourself out there early. Knock on design agency doors if you have to and eventually someone will give you the break you need/deserve!” 

Michael Orr, graphic designer and brand manager:

“Looking for your first job after graduation can be a long, frustrating process, so start your search early. Gain as much work experience as you can, especially live projects, and find out where your talents and interests lie. Research companies; maybe impress them with some fresh ideas for their business – if you feel you have a great idea then pitch it. If you’re not successful the first time, look at areas you feel you could improve on and always ask for feedback on your work. Stick with it and be persistent – we’ve all been in the starting blocks of our careers.”


At UCA, we’re committed to supporting our emerging new talent after graduation, helping you to realise your professional potential and achieve your career goals. So, after graduation you can continue using our Careers & Employability service for up to three years. Find out more about the support we provide our graduates here.

You can also get some inspiration from our alumni by finding out what they’ve been up to since graduating from UCA in Creative Update, our alumni magazine. 

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