Making the most of it
Feature by Katie Hopkins
Whilst graduating in lockdown brought uncertainty, worry and a whole lot of graft; it allowed saying yes to projects that didn’t exist before our new normal.
With a new-found love for illustration, freelancing came as a happy surprise as I graduated Manchester Fashion Institute, with a First-Class Honours in Fashion Promotion. Being approached for my skills for the first time gave me a boost of confidence I didn’t know I had in me and since completing an employability internship at University, I put my best foot forward into expanding my professional development – here’s what I’ve learnt.
Keep on working
I may have given myself a few weeks to binge Disney + but aside from that, my brain continued to tick, coming up with new ideas and making me feel almost guilty for having a break. I think the best thing I did was just carry on in lockdown, what went from an internship then moulded into reworking my website, creating a show-reel and passing some online courses.
My favourites being:
- Girls in Marketing – Your Journey to Successful Freelance eCourse
- Fashion Revolution – Fashion’s Future: The Sustainable Development Goals
- Hubspot Academy – Content Marketing
I began to work on my online presence, spending time on my Instagram and creating the content that I wanted to see, for the first time in my life. Fuelling my love for social content, illustration and written word, I started to reap the benefits that came in the form of freelance opportunities. The one thing I’d say to any graduate or job seeker in the industry now is don’t be afraid of self-promotion, and if you can’t find a job role you love – why not make your own?
“If you don’t showcase your work on social media in some way, then you need to start”
Our Diary Project
Our Diary became my biggest lockdown motivator. A project funded by Wakefield Council as part of the Creative Challenge 2020, initiated by local photographer, Emily Ryalls; Our Diary gave me a new excuse to pick up a camera and document my life in lockdown. What we didn’t expect to happen was a creative collective forming out of the work we were making. Now, we’re working in our studio supported by local art organisation The Art House, can have our weekly meetings in our own space and concepts are flowing for the future of ‘The Merrie Collective’ as we settle into our new home in ‘Merrie Studios’.
Of course, I’ve been searching for a graduate job, so I can finally put all my abilities into practice, but from one rejection email, came my desk and place in an artistic hub that I can use to my heart’s content.
Be a cheerleader
Whether it’s my new community online, my collective or my friends, being a cheerleader and hyping up another person’s work just means more now than ever. We have the time and space to support local businesses, give a shoutout to your mates’ new venture or simply like and re-share a project on LinkedIn that you love. Since graduating I’ve realised how much promotion is worth, what it can do for your self-assurance and how it makes you believe in your practice. So be a cheerleader, let people know how much you value their work, their efforts and make the change from university-style competition to a healthy, friendly round of applause, cheers or pat on the back (post-corona of course).
Graduating in lockdown hasn’t been without its challenges but coming out the other end, I’m glad I now realise a negative experience can spark months of elation and creative freedom. If anything, it has allowed me to understand my resilience, drive and longing for an inventive life; besides, being recalled as a member of the Class of Corona may just come in handy.
Katie is a content creator based in Yorkshire, for freelance enquiries please find her on Instagram @katiehportfolio and for zine lovers and creatives alike, visit @ourdiaryproject and @themerriecollective.