What Next… Planning Your Career Journey
It’s that time of year when Arts University Plymouth Careers and Enterprise Service begins to get a lot of requests for what I would call, ‘What Next,’ meetings. Over the last few months your mind has been preoccupied with dissertation deadlines, planning a Final Major Project and thinking about your degree show. Now that you have a bit of breathing space it’s perfectly natural for you to start thinking…what next?
There are a range of approaches to exploring, reflecting and researching the next steps in your career journey. One of my favourites is to start with writing it down. When I say writing it down, I mean getting all those thoughts, ideas and uncertainties on paper instead of spinning wildly around in your head. Try a basic mind map. Headings could include things like aims and ambitions, income, values, location, family, or whatever feels relevant to you at the time. This is a great starting point to explore personal and professional aspirations with honesty and confidence. Some of the key questions that may come out of your mindmap under ‘aims and ambitions,’ may include things like, ‘run my own business.’ Using the mind map structure you can expand those ideas by adding questions: What does being self employed really involve? What knowledge and experience do I need? What about funding? Taxes? Can I get a mortgage if I am self employed? This research phase of the mind mapping experience allows you to pull together all the information you need to make an informed decision that is right for you. You may decide to speak to a business advisor, talk to other self employed creatives, or learn how to draft a business plan.
A good place to start would be to get in touch with the right organisation for you. In Plymouth, that includes:
The Prince’s Trust is open to young people aged 11 to 30 from all over the UK - no matter if they have been facing some serious issues such as homelessness or if they've been in trouble with the law. If they're willing to aim high - the Prince’s Trust is here.
The Trust works with delivery partners across the UK to offer hundreds of free courses, grants and mentoring opportunities to inspire young people to build their confidence and start a career. They will be there to support you to achieve your full potential.
The Outset programme was launched in January 2010 and for over a decade, Outset has been working in close partnership with Plymouth City Council to provide business start-up and growth support for the city’s residents. They offer a range of fully-funded (free) support, from one to one meetings with local business advisors, workshops, networking events and online resources too.
For 25 years Cosmic has been supporting businesses and individuals to make the most of technology. The company is a social enterprise, with the mission of tackling the issue of digital exclusion. They are practitioner-led, meaning that their trainers and consultants have first-hand experience in delivering technical solutions: from building websites and videography, through to providing IT technical support services and software solutions. This means that the training and advice that they can provide through these funded programmes is rooted in professional experience and expertise.
Iridescent Ideas is an award-winning social enterprise and a regulated Community Interest Company. It was founded in May 2011 by Gareth Hart and Mel Tucker. Iridescent has a vision of creating a more socially enterprising, greener, fairer economy and delivers business support for social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, community groups and charities across the UK. Iridescent supports new businesses to get established and existing ones to grow. Iridescent help find finance, develop business plans and evaluate impact. They help to build stronger and more resilient organisations. They also deliver business support contracts for councils, universities, national government and other partner organisations.
The School for Social Entrepreneurs runs courses that equip people to start, scale and strengthen organisations that make a positive difference, however it’s not a traditional school. Learning with SSE is inspiring, action-based and accessible. They support people in other ways too, such as funding and mentoring. Today they work internationally, with teams across the UK, Canada and India. The local team has been based in Devon for the past decade.
Plymouth Social Enterprise Network is a force for business done better. They are a key player in the development of the Resurgam Charter and the Inclusive Growth board. They support social enterprises and cooperatives across Plymouth in their work towards a Kinder, Fairer, Greener way of doing business. Their membership includes key members of the local business community such as Livewell Southwest, University of Plymouth and Nudge Community Builders.
You can find out more about them here plymsocent.org.uk
If you are looking for new ways to develop and grow your business, the “Meet the Expert” Business Support Programme is for you. The support available is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is completely FREE to SMEs in Devon. “Meet the Expert” will be holding monthly one to one business advice events and workshops allowing businesses the opportunity to meet and interact with a range of business experts covering a variety of topics. The programme offers eligible businesses a FREE diagnostic session (3 hours) followed by a further FREE package of impactful support (9 hours) to achieve current growth aspirations. Businesses may also be able to access a £1,000 fixed sum grant for external consultancy support which could be used to access a variety of advice.You can find out more about them here.
The Heart of the South West Growth Hub provides independent diagnosis and referrals to business support schemes and sources of further support. They are the first point of contact for businesses in the Heart of the South West LEP area wishing to develop and grow. Their service works in partnership with existing local and national business support services and will help businesses access the right support for them without duplicating existing provision. Find out more about them here.
Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is the largest network of businesses in the South West – small, medium and large organisations who want to be better at business. They can help you connect with other businesses, support your company’s growth with their expertise and use their knowledge to help you succeed, all while campaigning on your behalf. They provide business support, events and training and unparalleled expertise in everything from access to grant funding to international trade. Find out more about Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce on their website.
At Real Ideas, they understand that social and creative enterprise is a huge part of the economy and needs looking after during this time. They’re big believers in ‘business doing good’ and so are proud to be able to offer support for businesses in the South West and further afield. Find out more about them here.
Their mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. Established over 45 years ago, FSB is the UK’s largest grassroots business campaigning group, which ensures the voice of small businesses is heard at the highest level across the UK, as well as providing business services and products to our members. Find out more here.
All of this will allow you to explore the pros and cons before you invest time and more importantly, money. Once a decision is made, for example: ’I’m going to work for a few years to build my experience, networks and funds before starting my own business,’ you may need to do another mind map…all good! The mind map can also inform a very simple action plan. Deciding to work for a few years before starting your own business means your action plan could look something like this:
Reflect on what’s been working in my current job (or job search), think about training and advancement opportunities, save money for my business start-up fund. Keep building my networks for when I’m ready to go self employed.
By writing it down, using mind maps and action plans you become your own project manager, and the project you are managing is your own successful career!