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Creative Careers

Industry Advisor: Cristen McQuillan

If you are interested in utilizing your creativity in a future career, whether that may be writing, design, creating art, or entertaining others, your interests may fall within what we call the creative careers community. Creative careers is a general term that refers to a wide variety of different fields and industries which all have a creative nature in common or use similar skills.

Creative industries may include*:

*Note: These links reference a subset of careers within each industry and are not exhaustive. 

Career Center Resources in Creative Industries
Creative Careers Newsletter

Make sure to sign up for our Creative Careers industry newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming events, job and internship opportunities, and industry topics. The newsletter typically goes out either weekly or bi-weekly on Wednesdays. To sign up to receive the newsletter, login to TribeCareers. Click on the circle on the top right of the page, then My Account, then Industry Newsletters/Career Interests and update your Industry Newsletters section by checking the box next to all of the newsletters you'd like to receive.

Events & Programs

There are a variety of events that regularly take place within the creative careers industry throughout the academic year. Some of our typically scheduled events and the approximate timing include:

  • Meet Ups: Meet Ups are industry focused career chats or panels regularly featuring alumni. These events happen on a pop-up basis throughout the fall and spring and often feature alumni working in various sectors within the creative world. Some examples of past Meet Ups featured alumni in screen writing, journalism, marketing, sports marketing, public relations, publishing, and branding.
  • Wix Online Branding Workshop: In partnership with the Wix Academic Partnerships team, we offer two workshops a year (one in the fall and one in the spring semester) that focus on how to curate your online brand, and specifically how to build a personal website. The Wix team will lead you through a tutorial about why online presence is professionally important, how to establish your own website, share examples of successful websites, and teach you how to start your own site using the Wix platform. Attendees will also be able to access a unique code that gives access to one year of the Wix premium platform at no charge.
  • Creative Careers Trek: The Creative Careers Trek is an annual career trip that takes a group of students to an offsite location to visit employers and alumni working in various areas within the creative space. The trip usually occurs during spring break. This experience is application-based and does have a fee to attend. A chance to meet people working in industries that may interest you, learn about office life and culture, and exposure to various industries that utilize creative skills make this trip a truly immersive and valuable experience. Some past site visits include Nickelodeon, Penguin Random House, H&M, Macy’s, and Ogilvy.
  • Ferguson Blair Publishing Seminar: This signature event takes place every other year in the fall and features panels and workshops with alumni and professionals working in the world of publishing. The most recent publishing seminar took place in the fall of 2022. This event features workshops and panels about traditional areas within publishing, which might include editing, literary agents, marketing, production, etc. and also non-traditional areas within publishing like digital media, journalism and storytelling, and social media content creation. The seminar is an excellent opportunity to engage with professionals in these spaces, add to your network, and learn about future careers in publishing.
  • Ferguson Blair Summer Publishing Institute Scholarship: While not technically an event, the summer publishing institute scholarship is awarded once a year in the spring. Funded by the same generous donors as the Publishing Seminar, the Ferguson Blair Summer Publishing Institute Scholarship offers tuition awards of $5,000 for first place, and $2,500 for second place to students who are accepted to one of three major summer publishing institute programs (NYU, Columbia, and University of Denver). This is an application-based scholarship and a committee made up of faculty and staff decide the two winners. Applications are submitted through TribeCareers.
  • Personal Branding Workshop: Our personal branding workshop focuses on how to understand, communicate, and build your personal brand. The workshop focuses on what makes up a personal brand, how to cultivate your brand, and how to communicate it to others. This is particularly helpful to understand when communicating with employers, and professionals, and in building your own creative endeavors. Watch a past personal branding workshop.
Potential Majors

If you think you may be interested in one of these fields, there are a wide variety of majors that may help to prepare you for a creatively based career. Keep in mind that many majors can teach useful and relevant skills, so this is just a list of ideas, not a requirement. Check out these majors offered at William & Mary that might be a good fit for you:

What Can I Do With This Major?: Use this resource to see how a major can connect to different career paths.

Special Topics

The creative space is vast and while many of the industries within it will require different techniques, there are some tips that you may find useful within all areas:

  • Creative Resumes: Sometimes individuals in creative careers will want to create a more stylized resume. For instance, if you are applying at an advertising agency, it might be a good idea to make your resume stand out a bit more than a typically formatted resume, perhaps by throwing in some color, a creative font, or some specific skillsets that may be helpful in a creative career. On the other hand, if you are applying for a marketing analytics role at a corporation, a traditional-style resume would likely be fine. Many companies also use Applicant Tracking Systems to review resumes, so keep in mind that traditional resumes are the safest option to be read by ATS.
  • Tell Your Story & Communicate Your Brand: There is only one you! Whether you are applying to a job or internship, interviewing, planning a website, or working on your elevator pitch, it’s important to curate and share your story. Think about what makes you unique. What do your background, experiences, talents, and interests say about you? Telling your own story can show a lot about your ability to craft a narrative, build a story, and write creatively. After all, storytelling is a huge part of many creative careers (marketing, advertising, publishing, etc).

    Just like your favorite brand of soda or your favorite brand of sneakers, we all have our own personal brand. What makes you unique? Just like you see advertisements for your favorite brand, understanding what you uniquely bring to the table can be very useful when selling yourself to employers.
  • Think about your Digital Presence: Whether you have creative work to showcase (i.e. written pieces, graphic designs, paintings, photographs, etc.) or you just want a place on the internet to share your story, having your own digital presence is an important part of curating your overall brand. Check out more information on our online profiles page.
    • Portfolios: Sharing your body of work can be helpful to showcase your creative skills. If you are a writer, you can share your freelance or published pieces. If you are a graphic designer, you can share some of your finished designs. Keep in mind that portfolio work can be things you’ve done in a professional setting, but it does not have to be. You can share designs you’ve created as basic concepts, articles you’ve written for a personal blog, or even academic projects. As long as they are a good showcase of your creative skills, they may be worth highlighting.
  • Enhance your Creative Skills: Not every industry in the creative space requires you to have software or design skills. However, as you research careers and roles that you might be interested in, take stock of the types of technologies listed, skills requested, and experience required. It may be a good idea to look at things that come up frequently and think about how you might gain experience with or learn/enhance creative skills before you apply to jobs.
    • For example, if you’ve never used Adobe Creative Suite, but notice that it may be useful in the field of marketing – perhaps you can utilize your free access from W&M to LinkedIn
      to take a quick course on Adobe Photoshop basics?
    • Social media skills can also be great to showcase to a future employer. For instance, knowing how to use TikTok or how to create Instagram Reels might be a benefit to an employer who is new in that space or doesn’t have a marketing department. Don’t forget to add social media skills to your resume if you have them, you never know when they might come in handy professionally.  
    • You may also enroll in a class to help build your writing skills or join a club or organization that allows you to create designs, write articles, or create social media campaigns. There are a lot of ways to gain relevant creative skills both at William & Mary and beyond.
Recruiting Timelines & Breaking into Professional Roles

Recruiting for creative industries can run the gamut from being very regimented, to more informal. Formal internship programs may be posted anywhere between September and May. No matter when an internship is posted, it's important to weigh whether the internship is a good fit for you. Just because one is posted in September and another is posted in February, doesn’t say anything about the validity of the experience. Overall, you are likely to find more internships in the creative space posted in the late fall and throughout the spring, with the high points between December and March.

While some industries have a very specific and typical recruiting timeline (ex. accounting or finance), creative industries are usually more scattered on time. We suggest researching companies or organizations that are of interest to you, take note of past timelines, and plan accordingly.

Many jobs and full-time roles are also posted on an as-needed basis (i.e. someone leaves, and they need to fill a role). Try not to compare your search with other classmates, as every job search and industry is unique.

It can be very important to utilize networking in your job search as well, as many positions are competitive in nature. Keep in mind that it’s best to cultivate your network before you need it. Check out our networking page for more information on networking strategies.

W&M Clubs & Organizations

There are many student clubs and organizations on campus that may help you gain skills and experience in the creative space. You can also gain relevant experience in any club or organization (for instance, publicity director of the chess club).

Log into TribeLink to find a full list of organizations, learn more and sign up for a club/organization that interests you. Here are just a few of the clubs and organizations you may want to explore: