Creative students at Middlesex University are benefiting from tips and advice from industry experts through new LinkedIn mentoring groups set up during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Faculty of Arts & Creative Industries (ACI) have set up the groups in all areas of ACI including Moving Image, Advertising, PR and Journalism, VFX & Gaming and Fashion. The project was launched to help students looking to break into the competitive creative industry, which has been effectively shutdown following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent social distancing rules.
More than 500 people are now members on the LinkedIn groups with artists and professionals offering feedback and guidance to students - who are graduating this year or in 2021 - on their portfolios and show reels along with providing interview techniques and holding Q&A sessions and voxpops.
Major companies which have signed up include: Walt Disney movies and animation, CNN, Universal Pictures, Mother, Warner Bros, King Games (Candy Crush makers),Epic Games, Haymarket Media Group, Sony Pictures, Talker Tailor Trouble Maker, Technicolour and the Matrix.
Jade Tomlinson (left), who is in her second year of studying a BA in Film, is one of the many students who has benefited from the LinkedIn groups.
She said: "As the film industry is highly based on who you know the MDX moving image mentoring group has been really beneficial as it has allowed me to get in touch with senior professionals for advice and to find new networks."
Carl Grinter (pictured below), a managing director, designer and supervisor of Cherry Cherry VFX which design moving-media experiences, films, commercials and online content, has been among the professionals helping MDX students.
He said: “Mentoring is important in all work practices but it's particularly important in art and design practices, whether they are commercial or non-commercially motivated.
“Art is about expressing oneself within a set of disciplines, usually ones that you set yourself.
“Techniques and practices are fine but in order to thrive in the media, film or design industries, you have to keep pushing against the grain and this means exploring how you see the world as a human being relative to others.
“Young people trying to make their way in the world of media making have to learn a practice of making, of reflection on making, of being reflexive through self-understanding in order to push against new boundaries and develop new practices, whilst the industry itself goes through its own constant re-invention.
“That isn’t always something that is easy to realise in education, because exception only comes through not accepting what is ordinary but developing step by step into the extra-ordinary.
“As students question, it enables mentors to question too and everyone learns from the process.”
Recently MDX graduate Richard Dinnick, a screenwriter and author, held a Q&A session with students via Zoom.
As part of the LinkedIn mentoring project, a live panel with creative professionals – Starting Your Own Business in the Creative Sector – is due to be held on Thursday between 3pm and 4.30pm.
The panel will feature: Tim Evans, Head of Investment, Creative England, Grace Graham, E-learning Business Owner and Diversity & Inclusion Lead for the Greater London Region, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Georgina Mackey, Entrepreneur Development Manager, NatWest and Simon Best, the Programme Leader Msc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Middlesex University Business School.
A second panel, Developing a Powerful Brand and Promoting Your Creative Business, is due to be held on Wednesday July 1 between 1.30 and 3pm.
Joining the panel will be: Ben Jones, Chief Technical Officer – GfK, Carole Davids, Creative Director - The Elephant Room, Danish Bagadia, EMEA Lead, Performance Marketing - Google and Mavis Amankwah, Multi-Award Winning Owner of App, Digital Marketer & Trainer, Funding & Investment Consultant.
Helen Emberton, Corporate Engagement Consultant at MDX along with Michaela Hopkins, a Consultant for the Business School and ACI, have been instrumental in setting up and promoting the group.
Jayne Barr, Head of Brand and Creative at MDX, also promoted the group to her various industry contacts.
“We want to support the graduate students in the creative sector,” said Helen.
“In a lot of creative areas, business has come to a standstill with shoots being cancelled which has a ripple effect on other parts of the creative industry.
“So even though it’s hard for any graduate to find work in this sector
, there’s nothing for them to currently go out into at the moment.
“Even though COVID may have a put a stop to parts of the industry it has allowed the students to be able to connect with some major companies and award winning industry people who they would have normally not had the chance to.”
Helen said she has received “great feedback” regarding students from the industry professionals and two students have already been offered internships as a result of the mentoring groups.
Find out more about the Starting Your Own Creative Business event this week and the Developing a Powerful Brand and Promoting Your Creative Business panel in July.