Making your Arts Degree Work for you

An arts degree will crack open many doors into many industries but it is up to you to open these doors fully. 

An arts degree will crack open many doors into many industries but it is up to you to open these doors fully. 

"What's more useless than having an Arts degree? Having a Fine Arts degree!"

Arts students (and Fine Arts students) have heard this and similar from the moment they decided to undertake said degrees. These cliches are usually spouted by those too ignorant to see the value in this education or those who wasted their degree and did nothing with it. Don't listen to them, your degree is what you make of it. 

In the coming week students will be getting their college offers. When I was in sixth year anyone who didn't know what they wanted to do in life was applying for an arts degree. It's been stated ad nauseum that it is nearly impossible to know what you want as a future career at the age of 17. Anyone who does know what they want to do is really, really lucky. 

I was one of those who didn't know what they wanted to do in life so I continued on with the subjects I liked in school which were English and History. Living in Limerick, Mary Immaculate College had a wonderful Liberal Arts programme with many different topics I thought would be interesting. I figured I would decide on a career in college. 

On my first orientation day in college the head of the English Department Dr. Eugene O'Brien said to us that an arts degree wouldn't open up the door to a specific job but it would nudge open an array of doors into different industries and it was up to us to kick open those doors with further training and experience. 

Finishing my degree in 2011 I still didn't know what I wanted to do.

The economy took a nosedive so I decided to hide out in college a little longer and do a Masters degree. I liked the idea of working in publishing. After finishing this degree I went on to a Jobsbridge internship at Southern Advertising as an assistant editor.

With this in mind I continued my studies, I liked the editing world and working freelance really appealed to me. I figure if I have to work for the next forty years I will damn well like what I'm doing and enjoy this life I have. As far as I know, I'm not getting another life. 

So I made my Arts Degree work for me, it gave me an insight into many different industries, broadened my mind and my horizons and when I decided what I wanted to do I pushed the door marked "Freelance Editor" open with all of my training and experience. My Arts Degree was not useless, I use it every day in a job and a life that I love. 

My first networking event

As advised by a friend I connected with the Limerick Enterprise Office and the Women In Business Network Ireland. This turned out to be a fantastic resource for any woman (or man) setting up their own business. I was then invited by the WIB/LEO to their networking event in the Castletroy Park Hotel on Wednesday March 9th. Held as part of Limerick Business Week, guest speaker Aisling Nelson from Three Thought Bubbles gave an insightful workshop on how to humanise your blog and therefore market not just your business, but yourself, better. (This blog post takes inspiration from her talk.)

I was nervous going to this event. I really did not have a clue about how to network. What was I supposed to wear, to say, to do? Armed with a stack of business cards my boyfriend got delivered just in time (thanks hun) I donned what I thought was a "business-casual-but-don't-hide-my-personality" type outfit and headed in.

When I found parking and navigated my way to the conference rooms in the hotel, I was greeted by friendly, welcoming faces from Limerick Enterprise Office. I spoke to a lovely lady named Ciara who ran the social media pages for LEO. We chatted about our work and discovered we both did our Masters in Mary Immaculate College at the same time. We swapped information and other women joined our table. More introductions, more chatting, more "what do you do" and then it clicked with me, this is networking. It is not some big scary business exercise, it is being a human being, having an interest in other people and their passions and being open about your passions too. There is nothing to it, I do it every day at Canteen, I chat to customers, we have a little banter, if we wish to know more about each other, we swap information. Simple as that and I didn't even realise it. 

Throughout the night I mingled with other ladies and I felt a sense of community with these other women finding their way in the business world. Not only did I take home the valuable information imparted upon us by Aisling Nelson, but the event dispelled the fear I had around networking. Many of the skills I developed, and continue to hone, in Canteen help me to network and market myself better. I now feel more confident in my skills and my ability to make Best Copy work for me and my clients. I would advise anyone to get involved with their Local Enterprise Board, you never know how it may help you.

Following Aisling's advice Best Copy is now on Instagram. Follow Breenymeany (Best Copy was already taken boo!) for a behind the scenes look at my work, my inspiration and the things that keep me sane.