Suite20Seven Designs


Should I Work A Retail Job Whilst I Build My Portfolio? - PROGRESSING YOUR CREATIVE CAREER


Should I Work A Retail Job Whilst I Build My Portfolio?


Now that you’ve gotten yourself an internship and are starting to build up your portfolio, you are well on your way to landing yourself your first ever full-time creative role!

The problem is that you are now stuck in financial limbo and, like any other normal functioning member of society, you are going to have bills to pay, like rent, transport, food and everything else that comes with being an adult. These bills can be pretty hard to pay with the zero dollars an hour you are earning at your internship.

I’m sorry to say this but you’re probably going to have to get a job in the retail, tourism or service industries to help support you while you are in this transitional period. Now, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Every creative professional has been through this tricky period at least once in their life.

There a few key things that you should look out for and remember when in this transitional period to help make it as seamless as possible.

  1. Look for Jobs with Flexibility:

You don’t want to be locked into a fixed Monday to Friday schedule, as you want to be able to maneuver your schedule around to accommodate your internship as well any freelance jobs or spontaneous collaborations you may become involved in. Look for companies that are open 7 days a week, day and night as this will give you maximum flexibility.

2. Zero Hour Contracts

Now, zero hour contracts are sneaky contracts used by mostly sales companies that allow the employer to terminate an employee's contract at a moment's notice, without having to pay them any severance. This is done mostly to people who aren't performing i.e. not meeting their sales targets etc.

During my creative transitional period, I worked for a company that offered this type of contract. It can seem pretty daunting but you can definitely make it work for you! You only work when you want, whether it’s 2 days a week, 5 days a week or anything in between. This is great because you can fit it around your internship, freelance roles, and any possible job interviews.

Also, just like the employer doesn’t have to give you any notice when letting you go, you don't have to give them any notice before you leave. So when you are interviewing for film part or a creative role, you can tell the interviewers that if you are successful you can start straight away. This will help give you a leg up in any job application.



I have seen this happen to so many people it is ridiculous! It is important when you are working your transitional job to look at it as just that…. A TRANSITION! You are there to come in and earn your rent and food money and leave, nothing more! The allure of extra cash to ‘become a supervisor’ can be tempting, but always, always decline! Once your foot steps on that ladder, your ‘transitional job’ changes. It becomes your life and you have to do longer hours, manage people, as well as look after a myriad of other responsibilities that you don't want. I’ve watched it sap a number of creative people of their motivation and slowly they stop working on freelancing roles, stop doing their side projects and eventually stop being creative altogether.


Furthermore, while you work your transitional job, your ‘workday’ is only half of the battle. Once you get home from work you need to treat it like a completely new work day. No NETFLIX, no Xbox, nothing. These nights and days off are when you put in the hard yards. This is when you are updating your portfolio, searching for jobs online, participating in collaborative projects, looking out for freelance work and pretty much anything else you can do to progress your creative career.

I’m not going to lie to you; it is very difficult to keep up this work rate, but it is this work ethic that will you hold you in good stead within your creative career and, believe me, once you do finally land your first full-time creative role you will appreciate it that much more.

you might also like

Oliver Lee HansenComment