Final-year students and alumni from creative and digital courses at the University of Cumbria grasped the opportunity to meet with local creative industries at an event held at the Carlisle Business Interaction Centre.
Over 100 people attended the event, which brought together current businesses in the creative sector with the employees of the future.
The event was hosted in partnership with Freerange Industries with the community of Creative Cumbria, which provides networking, business and knowledge-sharing opportunities across a wide range of creative and digital businesses in the county.
University careers and employability coordinator, Anna Robinson, said: “This event gave our final year students the opportunity to develop networking skills; to meet and make contacts with alumni who are in positions that they aspire to, and to gain useful advice and careers support.
“They also benefit from speaking to successful business people who can articulate what students need to do to make it in their industry.”
Joanne Lusher from the university’s Alumni Association explained: “We see events like this as an ideal way to encourage closer links between the university and the local creative and digital industries. It creates a conduit between current students and recent graduates with local employment opportunities.
“Our alumni are the university’s best asset and their successful career paths, skills and knowledge can really inspire and help our students develop in the careers they dream of.”
An equal number of tickets were allocated to students, alumni and local businesses. The highlight of the evening was the ‘industry panel’, when professionals (the majority of whom were alumni of the university) shared their experiences and expertise, followed by a question and answer session.
The compere was Neil Bowness, co-founder of the Plain Creative Agency of Kendal, with Fraser Hannah from Wombat Web Design, Craig Charters from AWOL Adventure Ltd, Helen Statham from Cumbria Live, James Vincent from Vincent and Bell Ltd, Leo White from Hydrant and Sara Gadd from Sara Gadd Millinery making up the panel.
Leo White is the founder of a successful web design company based in Carlisle and graduated from the university in 2002. He commented: “You can make contacts anywhere, our clients are international. As long as you do a good job, it is the results that they care about not where you are based.
“If you stick a pin in Carlisle, it is pretty much the middle of the country! I never wanted to live in London; you need to look at the work/life balance and the lifestyle you want to lead.”
Final-year events management student Helen Statham was chosen as a panel member because she is not an average student! During her time at university she has taken every opportunity available to further her future career, and had this advice: “Say yes to everything! With just a degree there is nothing to set you apart from anyone else.
“I have done work placements and gained experience; I have had opportunities and I am now doing a part-time job I love at Cumbria Live, all because I said yes – don’t wait until you graduate!” Hannah Stewart from Freerange Industries said: “Recruiting new talent is crucial for creative and digital businesses, and it’s extra complicated in Cumbria where mountains block your view of who’s out there.
“The creative and digital sector in Cumbria is fantastically vibrant, however it’s near invisible and events like these with the University of Cumbria allow us to demonstrate to students and graduates that there are opportunities to succeed in their career within Cumbria.”