Work experience (and protecting your rights)

One of the biggest challenges for those trying to get into work is that basic catch 22: no experience = no job.

Which means that more often than not, you have to consider working for free to gain that initial experience for your CV. If you have to do this, make sure you protect your rights!

Work placements - why you should be paid

The fact is that, except in certain defined circumstances - student work placements, work experience of less than four weeks or volunteering - working for nothing is illegal, and you're entitled to earn the National Minimum Wage (which as of 1 April 2017 will be £7.05 an hour for those 21 and over ) or the National Living Wage (which as of 1 April 2017 will be £7.50 an hour for those 25 and over, with the exception of first year apprentices). Both pay rates are reviewed in April each year.

Thanks to some campaigning by BECTU and other organisations, more employers are acting on their obligations to pay new entrants at least the National Minimum Wage. However many will continue to flout the law, so keep it in mind and try to get what you deserve!  

Read more on what to expect if you're going to do work experience in Creative Skillset's Guidelines on Work Experience.

Creative toolkitNetworking to get your foot in the door

Most reading will probably have been told over and over again, but it bears repeating - networking is THE way to get your foot in the door in the industry. Your uncle's mate, your friend's cousin - if you know someone who knows someone, try and build contacts with the industry there.

If you're not feeling confident, Creative Toolkit has drawn on the collective wisdom of everyone we know to develop this brilliant guide on how to network effectively.

    • Help notes: Networking for Freelancers 

Careers fairs

Trade shows and careers fairs are top of the list when it comes to building contacts, and there are plenty on offer for those hoping to work in broadcast, theatre or digital. Always go armed with a couple of your CVs, and be prepared to be friendly, engaged and confident (even if you don't feel it!) 

Not only are several of these events free to attend but they are a great source of information about the latest trends and new technology and they provide a platform for many support organisations. Established staff and freelances make a regular date to visit these events. And crucially, if you do make contacts while you're out and about, don't forget to follow them up! 

Some of the best trade shows to look out for.

If you'd like to be kept up todate on what's going on, make sure you sign up to BECTU's Student Register
Last page update 29 March 2017.