5 Things I wish I knew in college as a creative

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I learned in my college years at Mohawk College as a Television Broadcasting student the past few weeks. And had many conversations with highly engaged community driven creative individuals and I can’t imagine what the future for creatives in the city will be like in 5 to 10 years down the line.

The industry is changing very drastically even from a month-to-month basis that it’s hard to know how everything in the digital space will pan out. I’m not going to write something like Television is completely dead. It really isn’t, but how we consume our media has drastically change.

Our society has slowly changed, we no longer have valuable family time on a Friday night, watching Family Matters, Full House, and Whose The Boss. We no longer sit down at 6pm & or 11pm to watch the evening news… why would we? We’ve checked out our facebook, twitter feed and got the news updates as it is happening in real time. It use to be normal just have one single television set in the family room where we could all congregate, and then, it became normal to have a television set in every room of the house… okay, I’m exaggerating, perhaps one in each bedroom, plus a family room.

But as the digital age progresses, fewer people are watching “television” the way we use to think television should be watched. A majority of television consumption is now through our Smart phones, Tablets, laptop and desktop computers. We are also consuming media in shorter lengths of time because our attention span as dwindled down right to the core. If it doesn’t capture our attention within the first 30 seconds you’ve lost the audience. If you’re not a die hard fan of the concept why do I care to watch it in the first place.

So with all that being said, I wonder what kind of education is being programmed into young idealistic minds today to shape the future of tomorrow. Are they learning about the importance of content being produced and know why we create with an idea of cross platform purposes. Are they merely being taught the basics of video production or other technical aspects that would go into storytelling or finally are they being taught to think in new innovative ways, and think beyond the box we tend to put ourselves in.

So with that being said, I comprised a short top 5 list of things I wish I knew when I first got started in College.

1.) Networking, biggest favour to yourself is getting out in the community and network with other creatives, bring your friends, along with you too, force them into it if you have to!

Networking at events such as Creative Exchange, anything by Factory Media Arts, Cobalt Connects, get out there now, even if you’re just starting out and have nothing to show, it doesn’t matter. The skills you develop by actually interacting with people that are doing something in real time will go a long way with your professional career.

And you never know, you might just end up with a job with a simple handshake and a smile. Find the grassroots networking events, Startup Drinks comes to mind, which is a great networking event that happens once a month that will allow you to easily break the ice, but be consistent when attending. Once you do that, bring a friend, then they feel comfortable and may know another individual that might consider it of value to make connections. That is how we grow together as a community and build long lasting relationships with our peers.

And if at all possible, if you see something missing and you think the creative community could benefit from, build your own networking event. Reach out to the people you wish you could see more of at networking events, never get bogged down being and be an island only to yourself and a select few. The more individuals you know the more opportunities are then created for you to grow not only as a professional but as a person as well.

That’s what I ended up doing over the last year, after I attended my first Web Series meet up in Toronto, I fell in love with the energy that flowed through the space. It was something I was already passionate about so it only made sense to me that I wanted to bring that energy to the Hamilton Creatives.

And don’t be afraid to take the lead, and be a leader if you have to, even if it’s not widely accepted in the beginning. The more you work on building your connections the more people get to know what you’re up to and trying to accomplish.

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2.) If you’re not on social media, start now! And I don’t mean just the usual suspects (Facebook and Google) I mean twitter, Linkedin, even instagram. Use them to build your digital presence, another fellow Mohawk Grad actually brought this up. And after thinking about it, it was so true. You don’t have to have a company twitter account, it is more about getting into the process of interacting with again your community, building trust online, and creating engaging conversation.

Just make sure when you do sign up for twitter, you make your user name as simple as your first and last name. Try not to make it too crazy. The friend I spoke of which most of you reading this probably have seen his tweets, has gone through a few name changes and the only reason for this is as he continues to grow his following on twitter he has changed his work place at least once or twice and with each time he does, he merely changes the end of his twitter handle to reflect the company that he might be working for.

Linkedin, another great way to build relationships and potential leads for future job opportunities. Again, regardless of work experience, start building your professional connections now! It will make the transition process of being a student to a professional a whole lot smoother.

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3.) Take a business course: I would have loved to have more of an intensive class within the 3 year program that talks about the aspect of being a creative entrepreneur. For those individuals that have a passion and drive to build their own business. To be able to learn more about team building, managerial, sales, marketing side of production services. And the knowing what a reasonable rate is for the line of work that you’re doing. Obviously it will vary depending on the situation, a team of one won’t charge the same price as a team of 5 or 6 individuals as a company so that is a must to take into the consideration.

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4.) Development of boundaries: In other words, don’t ever let anyone walk all over you and take advantage of your skill sets as a creative. There is a statue of limitations on proving yourself in the industry and get away from the “It will be a great demo reel piece.” Knowing how much your time is worth, how much your equipment costs and your educational background. You are not a ‘starving artist’ there is no such thing, you just have to develop the right mindset as a creative well in advance before you dive in.

I can tell you through my experience, I spent almost a grand total of 14,000 dollars on getting all of my equipment. I saw it as an investment opportunity, and I haven’t regretted that decision yet. I also spend money every time I go out and buy a new external hard drive so I can properly archive and maintain raw footage just in case if I have to go back to something.

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Now going back to education, if your in Television Broadcasting, you’re using industry leading, cutting edge equipment that probably costs more than anyone is willing to admit. You’re trained in the art of storytelling, knowing what drives a great emotional piece that psychologically compels the viewer to share. You’re using equipment has to be properly taken care of and update and software that costs a pretty penny, unless of course you do it the old pirate way.

So knowing where, when and why you’re setting the boundaries is key. This isn’t a hobby class you’re taking this is your professional career and people have to understand that but most of all you have to understand that. And you might have to say no to projects you really want to take on, but, if you say yes all the time and especially with little to no pay being rewarded it will be that much harder to break later on in life.

5.) Follow your passion: This one is probably the most important of them all. Follow your passion, passion & enthusiasm will set you apart from everyone else. Never let the industry drain your passion to the point that you become jaded. The minute that you come across like that, get out of the way.

And there is a big difference between being realistic and jaded, even when your realistic you still have enthusiasm but if you’re jaded you just rip apart anything that someone new wants to try. And it becomes more pessimistic view on the world. Never let someone else’s path derail you from yours.

Even if they have 30 years worth of experience behind them, the fact is, times are changing. What might not have worked 10 years ago when they first tried to implement the very same idea, could have a completely different impact on how it could work now. Be mindful of these individuals, and stay true to your passionate side, keep the imagination alive and be open to endless possibilities, hang on to that as tightly as possible!

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And my final thought for all of the above is always stay true to yourself, never try and pretend to be like someone else! Be as real as possible. You don’t need to impress anyone, you just need to be you! Let your passion shine through your work like the golden sun breaking through the clouds of a stormy day.

Love and cherish every minute that you spend filling your head up with knowledge and truly empower yourself to be the best creative individual you can be.

– Cheers Michael

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Filed under General Life, Hamilton, Passion & Purpose

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