By Reinal Lauw
A webinar was organized on November 18, 2020 by the School of Applied Creative Arts and Design (SACAD) along with the Education Counsellor Department of Han Chiang University College of Communication. The webinar aimed to share the essentials on preparations for entering the creative industry.
Mr. Eswandy Asre, a design and film lecturer from the School of Applied Creative Arts and Design played the role of a moderator. The main speaker was Ms. Sophia Shung, an expert in the whole gamut of the creative industry. The webinar had four separate segments. It began with a sharing session followed by a mock interview handled by the guest speaker. Then, there was a presentation on SACAD programs. Finally, the webinar ended with a question and answer (Q&A) session.
“I believe that good software skills and to have critical thinking can craft the path of endless possibilities, not just on getting a job, but also to become a creator themselves. But, once more, the question is how. Are they aware of all these important elements that they should possess before getting into the industry,” began Eswandy.
Falling behind everyone else may seem daunting, especially if one lacks the motivation. That is why Sophia gave her pro-tips for those struggling to keep their footing, by simply starting with a plan that is doable.
If one wishes to determine the direction he or she is heading, explained Sophia, beginning with the end in mind may arguably be the best compass there is. “You can imagine where you would be in the years ahead. Then, start realizing that any year in the future is not really, comfortably, distant when one has an ambition for any given years,” said Sophia.
Furthermore, Sophia suggested three things can be worked on now as a student in order to excel in the creative industry, and they are capability, attitude, and networking. To be creative is to dare to be different, find out whether or not you are ready for that and have started doing just that, moved on Sophia with her talk.
“The action plan is to keep track of your own interest; what you like to see online, on television, or anything that you see anywhere. Do we do a lot of things just to follow trends? Since when I was younger, I found that to follow or observe trends is a kind of habit,” said Sophia, adding that failing to do so may result in you being difficult to feel belonging to a group.
Sophia recommended us to challenge ourselves to rethink what we want to do in order to be creative rather than blindly following the trends.
“Nobody becomes a trend setter by following a trend, you cannot do that. I challenge you to fix your mind on this keyword ‘masterpiece’,” said Sophia. According to her, a masterpiece is always effortlessly timeless.
“It is not about the classy, or elegant that makes you feel more expensive. But, rather the kind of message, the kind of style that could travel throughout ten, fifteen, or thirty years, and people would still remember them,” went on Sophia. To which Sophia had added during the Q&A session that one should stop and reconsider whenever he or she is doing research, since there is a tendency to copy people’s work in the creative industry.
“Moreover, communication is needed even for someone who spends most of their time illustrating or editing in their office. The creative industry is all about selling, and, when clients say something that they want it simple, or this is not my kind of budget, or anything that is more or less similar, the clients only imply that they are merely not ready to pay that much of an amount. Also, the selling of an idea means recognition that is much needed,” opined Sophia, giving a plausible scenario as an example.
“Your language itself. This is inevitable. You cannot readily leave your school thinking that you will survive in the creative industry by just using one language,” answered Sophia on improving our communication skills.
“Try to be gracious, and open-minded when people criticize your idea. It is about the kind of to and fro communication that makes you improve your idea,” said she.
The first attitude to possess, went on the sharing session, is willingness to learn. “Rethink the entire idea of research. Now, if you like fashion, and when you are telling people that you like fashion, that actually means that you are ready to enter a conversation to discuss fashion in-depth with people. Instead, all you can say is how cool, trendy, and professional the way the marketing is done for a particular brand when people inquire about your interest,” said Sophia in a slightly jesting tone.
She pointed out that using professional jargon especially when your background involves the discussion at hand may elevate one’s expert opinion. According to Sophia, it is not about showing off to other people, it is something that you should have picked up along the years of researching.
“Be flexible, embrace change.” By this point Sophia never seemed to run out of words of encouragement. “Start to look back once in a while just to check your own progress. For students, take the chance to develop yourself when the leisure time could still overflow. Because, the next leisure time will most likely be after you are retired,” said Sophia. In addition to this, putting in efforts to learn and explore outside your area of interest will prepare you for the upcoming events.
“Make use of your time, grab every single thing you can get,” added Sophia.
“In order to persevere or to stay in the industry and continue your attempts, I would like to invite you to always ask yourself why you started in the beginning,” said Sophia. From a student’s perspective, it is sometimes normal for anyone to wonder whether or not the choice to study a particular course has been worth the spending time on. Though, at times it may be but a temporary stupefaction and not entirely a lack of judgement, according to Sophia.
According to Sophia, Facebook or Instagram is best used as a window to a shop that allows people to peek in.
“I’m not saying that you should put a mask on. I’m just implying that you should filter the kind of message, the kind of expression you use on social media. And, the kind of pictures and videos or whatever contents you share on the platform,” emphasized Sophia.
As Sophia has had experience working with an intern, she wisely suggests for students to optimize their internship so as to avoid taking the industrial training for granted.
“Before you go out and apply for an internship I hope that you all please think properly. Which company you want to go to, what kind of job you want to do. Basically, what are the things you would like to learn from that company. You do not simply go to a random company and expect that they would assign you with tasks which suit your profile,” quipped Sophia.
“During your internship I would like you to treat it as an actual job. Because, this is the training platform where you will be put to real test. To see whether you can handle the things you are going to be in charge of when you eventually graduate from your school and go out to work as an adult,” said Sophia. In other words, be disciplined and punctual more often than you are not. Sophia also added that it is not wise to be involved in office politics.
After the internship is over, it is expected for students to formally express their gratitude as well as keeping in touch the bridge students have built that connects them to the industry, advised Sophia. Needless to say it is important not to burn the bridge even when you realize how disappointed you are, for whatever reasons, in the company you had been working. Since, it is better to be safe than sorry when by any chance a former supervisor shows up in another company to be its superior manager.
For the next advice given by Sophia would be specifically on mastering the interview. “Do not be single-minded on just one single interview. It might just end up with you boasting yourself in front of the interviewer or the company. Because, you can do well only if you are as good as your script says. Instead, you should take the initiative to develop your working abilities and other skills before going to apply for a job,” said she.
Mastering the interview also means a well-prepared resume and portfolio. For someone who has completed several design projects in the past he or she may take the time to contemplate on how best to present those pieces of artwork; seeing from the readers’ perspective when preparing the portfolio, shared Sophia.
She added that the reason that you would be evaluated from the previous works you have done so far, would, therefore, mean that an in-depth report is highly necessary. Show people things that you are proud of and in a manner that impresses people.
Apart from having a well-designed resume and portfolio, Sophia suggests for anyone to spring-clean possible online footprints. Including removing irrelevant information out of your social media profile, and to leave sufficient information that tells people of how serious you are in your field.
Sophia urged anyone to look their names on the internet and see what comes up from the search result.
“If you do not have enough information online, try to look for ways to pour in extra information. You should probably open a link-in account. Try to have a kind of record so that whoever googles your name can get good information about you,” said Sophia.
Appearance and state of mind is a common advice for everyone who is going to start working in a professional environment. Hence, Sophia was obliged to include it by saying always keep in mind, because one can be overdressed on an occasion. But, she advised never to show up underdressed. “State of mind refers to the mental warm-up such as waking up earlier in the morning to rehearse the situation in your head all the time; setting the mind in a frequency that’s similar to those who are already working in the company,” said Sophia.
Above all, she reminded the audience that knowing what the company wants before exposing oneself in the interview will help as an initiative.
“Do your homework. Look for information about the company, know what they do, what they like, what the company’s visions are. And, ask yourself whether you can fit into that gap. Because, every company hires someone extra to fill up a gap, the kind of gap they already have,” said Sophia.
According to Sophia, besides knowing what the company wants, you should think for yourself and know what you want. She suggests that we should know what our wants are before actually applying for a job, avoiding bad reputation in the field of creative industry by being serious on what we are pursuing.
Proceeding with the mock interview, Tan Bao Shyang, who was pursuing his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Creative Multimedia, explained his past working experiences before he continued his studies. His first real job positioned him as a magazine designer where little by little he made his way to the entire pages of a magazine. After he was discharged from work, he found another job. This time as a graphic designer in a printing shop located in Bukit Mertajam. Tan was tasked on designing posters, brochures, and flyers; although he had been working at the printing shop for only three to four months, he learned a great deal through communicating with actual clients. The short amount of time working as a graphic designer was justified when Schawk Imaging Sdn. Bhd. contacted Tan. Before starting his work at the printing shop Tan had tried to reach out to Schawk Imaging Sdn. Bhd.
In her reply to what Tan Bao Shyang had just said, Sophia assured Tan that it was wise of him to explain the efforts he had placed to improve his working abilities. Sophia also commented that there are several unnecessary information, namely, the part where he mentioned the length of time he had worked in a company, especially when it is less than five years; that his account of work experiences had been made lengthy.
The comment was then followed by an advice. Sophia said that a creative person should sculpt one’s introduction so that it appears more interesting, rather than merely stating things that could be placed in the resume. Carefully selecting our words while excluding irrelevant information. After all, it is about letting others know whether or not you can fill in the gap that a company has.