A few weeks ago I responded to an email of a high-schooler asking for advice about choosing a college and a career in a creative field and I thought about myself and the things I wish I had done and also looked back at some of the things I have done right. A few people asked me to share on Twitter so here is a version of that email. I think an appropriate title of this would be “Advice I would give to myself when I was 17.”
1. Rule #1 Ask for things. No one is going to hand you the perfect life on a platter. You have to ask for things. The worst they can say is no. From that internship to that class that is already full, make yourself be the exception and ask for things. Once you figure that out life is SO MUCH BETTER.
2. As it turns out MOST creative jobs in this world you do not need a specific degree for. (Obviously Doctors and Lawyers etc this doesn’t apply to you.) That said, I believe college is indispensable in learning how to think. Unless you have a specific job in mind– find a program you are really interested in like: art history, English, political science, American Studies. Something that will give you depth as a person. This will be more beneficial to you creatively than something like a hospitality degree.
3. Do a study abroad.
4. All along the way take side classes that will help you in your career: graphic design, floral design, printmaking, photography, letterpress, calligraphy, etc.
5. Minor (or double major) in something with a marketable skill (like graphic design.) So that when the economy sucks you have something that will pay you well for your time instead of folding sweaters at the Gap for minimum wage.
6. Finally, the most important thing is to do 2-3 internships during the summers (one every summer.) The best ones are usually unpaid, only intern for your dream jobs–choose big cities. That is the key for getting people to like you, see your talent, and getting your foot in the door after you graduate.