TikTok copywriter and MDX BA English alumna Kadisha Kaur-Singh has some clear messages for students and fellow recent graduates.
"Know your stuff," she says. "Know you shouldn't be taking unpaid work. The Number One reason I have been able to land the jobs I have in particular is confidence".
To students worrying about not securing the right placements or internship she adds: "You can create your own experience". For communications roles, "it's about doing your own work and having your writing shine through.
"Create a mock marketing strategy, a fake social media campaign," she suggests. Top questions students should ask themselves about job opportunities: does the organisation align with your ethics, and are you passionate about what they do?
Kadisha had always worked alongside her studies since the age of 16. She has been helping dispense employability advice since after first meeting Sam Hornsby and Mae Yip, co-founders of mould-breaking careers fair organisers ERIC Festival, at ERIC's Storytelling Festival at Somerset House - "a massive networking event, with all the big names in the publishing industry," says Kadisha.
"It all started with ERIC. Besides my lecturer, it was the first to teach me how to do a portfolio, write a cover letter and direct me to opportunities. It was the first company I wrote for".
Kadisha made Tik-Tok videos for ERIC while at MDX. Then Sam and Mae approached her in October 2021 to become Head of Content, after ERIC had switched post-lockdown to being an App connecting young people to creative industry entry level opportunities and resources.
ERIC "partners up with the most attractive companies to Gen Z. Two of the biggest partnerships are with Apple and Pan Macmillan, who are looking to hire people not based on their experience but their passion for the industry and the role".
"The App is highly personalised to its user" says Kadisha. "I met so many companies on the way, it's been very interesting how accommodating they've been". She gave a careers fair talk at MDX's annual student-led creative writing event the North London Story Festival last February (pictured above), emphasising to English and Creative Writing graduates how many different career options were open to them beyond classic roles such as in publishing or teaching.
In June, she started at TikTok, at the end of five rounds of interviews. "I remember the job came up on the phone in the middle of the night!" she says.
She works with the Global Marketing team as part of a very diverse London office, travels often and relishes the work hard/play hard company culture. "Everyone's really friendly, so it's great to talk to them". She writes all forms of copy for the company - short- and long-form, landing pages, notifications, playbooks for companies about marketing with TikTok.
Fun, innovation, enthusiasm and energy are watchwords, but over and above these, "the best thing about TikTok is that they promote authenticity," she says. "They want to promote every aspect of that, especially with the writing".
Kadisha knew that she would go into a career that involved writing, but "I didn't want to put myself in a box,” she says. At MDX, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing Adam Dalton "was amazing. He made every lecture we had super-engaging" - including during the pandemic staying on for the same time again after online lectures for questions, to make sure students felt well-supported. After an incredibly busy and absorbing 2022, Kadisha hopes to spend some time this year on her own writing - previously she has written for titles such as arts and youth culture-focused GUAP magazine.
Samantha Hornsby (pictured, right) co-founded ERIC with best friend Mae Yip in 2016 to address a lack of good careers advice for those who didn't fit a particular mould, and the absence of creative industries from careers fairs.
By 2020 they had had built a community of more than 150,000 creatives aged 16-25 and a client base of brands including Kurt Geiger, Ogilvy, Sony, the BBC and Penguin, through dynamic events in London, Manchester and Glasgow.
"Over the pandemic, we were looking for people to hire to kickstart ERIC's new pivoted style," Samantha says. "Kadisha applied for the job, we loved her vibe and what she stood for.
"Kadisha's confidence is off the charts. She was in a job before that didn't allow her to capitalise on her creativity. She's a creative, that's what she is.
"We see ERIC as a stepping stone for young people to overcome some of those hurdles in your first job. Kadisha's success is to us a direct reflection about ERIC, which is amazing".
Samantha has some top tips of her own for creative graduates.
"Your own metric of success is so important. You are own person, you're on your own journey. Do not compare yourself to anyone else - most of the time it's a veneer, it's not true anyway. Having a well-paid job doesn't always mean happiness.
"Your career path is going to be meandering, you're going to discover whole new industries and ways of thinking. The world is so much bigger than you think it is. Jobs and industries are changing every day - you have to be flexible.
"Finally, make sure you're positioning yourself in the best possible way - keep up with continuous learning about developments in your field. It gives you such an angle, such an advantage".