Celebrating and concluding Creative Job Club

There have been a number of really exciting Youth Programme events happening at No34 and across Kent this year. From the success of Start Up Slam to the music made with Disquiet, we hope we’ve provided access to many areas of creativity in recent months; perhaps none more so than with our extended programme Creative Job Club. CJC has been an ongoing professional development programme for a group of young people aged 18 to 25. Applications and recruitment happened all the way back in May and as we move into October, we will have reached the last of the monthly presentations. This blog is a chance to look back on all the fantastic work that has gone into Creative Job Club by participants, guest speakers, mentors and staff.

CJC has been a learning curve for pretty much everyone involved. It’s been a lesson in organisation, effective communication, dedication, motivation and that’s just scratching the surface! The cohort taking part in CJC were a diverse group, ranging in age, education, location and career interests to name just a few. In short, they were like any modern workforce. These differences meant that the programme needed a vast range of components to provide substantial support for all the young people. Taking part in CJC therefore allowed access to one-to-one mentoring, a series of monthly meet ups and industry talks, assistance in job searching as well as help acquiring relevant work experience in the creative field(s) they were interested in accessing. We recognise how hard it can be to find those first forays into the working world – all of us at Ideas Test have had very different career paths and feel very lucky that they’ve converged here at No.34. CJC was developed to help combat the difficult and sometimes isolating process of finding that first creative job by providing relevant and personal support.

Creative Job Club could not have happened without the work and support of Adam Henderson, Gordon Lamont, Freya Briley, Kevin Grist, Brian Condon, Jim Byford and Simon Wakeman who delivered interactive sessions at the monthly meetings. These meet ups were a chance to engage with working creatives, ask them questions, listen to their expertise and learn a little more about a particular creative industry. The intention was to provide the group with a wide range of experiences that would increase their confidence in applying for jobs within any of these given sectors. There were also talks covering educational opportunities too, highlighting the great paths that can be taken locally across Kent. Kath Abiker was invited to talk about the Foundation Degree on offer at Canterbury Christ Church University and the skills to be gained from this innovative programme, while Heather Collingwood explained about access routes in Further Education at the University of Kent. Combined with the mentoring, whereby each applicant received 3 one-hour sessions, one of the overriding aims of the entire programme was to help participants secure work within a creative field or industry. Mentoring sessions would cover things such as building a strong CV and writing cover letters, through to practical advice on job applications or even just mind-mapping their current skills and working out what the next logical step is that they can take.

Young people in discussion around a table
Freya Briley and Gordon Lamont’s CJC session. Photo credit Kyra Cross

Also included as part of the Creative Job Club offer was forty hours of work experience which, wherever possible, was matched to each applicant’s individual career interests. Using Ideas Test’s growing and extended networks, we worked with the mentors and applicants directly to source the placements and can happily report that members of CJC found work with Art 31, Sparked Echo, Strangeface and Artswork and the Gulbenkian amongst other local companies. A gigantic thank you goes out to each and every company or business who helped support Creative Job Club in any way, especially those who provided one of the cohort with a work experience placement. Not only do these placements provide real time experience in relevant creative careers, they are also a great addition to a CV and we hope a solid stepping stone towards securing either contracted or freelance employment.

Already some of the group have got their next steps sorted, which is so fantastic to hear. A couple are off to university, some are being commissioned to create great work, while others have found work in competitive sectors such as retail and theatre. A couple have interviews lined up following excellent experiences with their placements and we hope those still deciding what the future holds for them are in a position where they feel more confidentgoing forwards. While CJC may not be a club in the conventional or sporting sense, it has brought together people with shared interests and goals. With so many of them using CJC as a springboard to success, hopefully this will be a testament to other young people in the area that you can carve out a creative career from Kent.

Young people seated in a circle working on an activity
Photo credit Kyra Cross

This entire program was made possible by funding from the NatWest Skills and Opportunities Fund and we hope that all the group – Amber, Poppy, Jasmine, Rami, Sony, Rachel, Daniel, Tommy, Abbey, Tom, Luke, Liberty, Tiffany, Luke, Georgie, Alfie and Joe – who have taken part in any way will go on to achieve great things. Don’t forget you can always keep in contact with us here at Ideas Test for any future support (or just to pop in and say hi!)

If you are aged 25 or under and are interested in accessing creativity, or know someone who is, don’t forget to check out our Youth Programme for any upcoming events.