How do Mentorships Work in the Creative Industry?
Posted in Editorial
Written by Antonia Stephenson | Photography by Nick Singleton
What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is when an expert or professional in a particular field shares advice and guidance with a younger or less-experienced colleague. It’s a great form of gaining experience as it often involves one-to-one support, so there is plenty of opportunity to ask questions. It also tends to involve work shadowing, so you get a direct insight into the day-to-day operation of the industry or position you’re interested in.
Mentoring In Action
This summer, another CDF-funded project from Wakefield Council, summer s’cool, offered a film and photography mentorship. This was a chance for someone interested in film-making to shadow and learn from Nick Singleton, who was capturing summer s’cool events over the holidays.
The opportunity was snapped up by Taylor, from Havercroft and Ryhill, who was keen to get some practical experience in the industry. Taylor has been interested in filmmaking since he was nine years old, having been inspired by Tarantino’s signature action shots and quirky techniques. He took up photography at the age of 11 and recently finished studying a film and television course at college. Throughout this time, he has always wanted to be a fly on the wall on a film set.
His partnership with Nick offered a step towards this. Together, they captured footage from the summer s’cool projects that were taking place in Rycroft Sports and Youth Centre. Taylor used this footage to produce his own trailer advertising the venue and what they offer the community.
Alongside, Nick and Taylor worked on filming and photography techniques like how to produce light art, in addition to industry specific skills, like developing a personal brand identity and portfolio.
Taylor reflected how the mentorship helped him align the practical side of the industry with the theoretical content he learned at college. Something he found satisfying about the project was the opportunity to interact with people at the youth centre, giving them a platform to share their stories and the work they undertake. Filmmaking is about people and being able to share this experience with those he knows well has made the process a privilege. He has also developed a special interest in editing which he hopes to take further.
From the skills and content Taylor has gained from the mentorship, he hopes to pursue a career in the film and television industry, his dream role being based in Media City in Manchester.
Find a Mentor
If you’re interested in getting experience in creative industries, here’s some tips for finding a mentor:
1. Narrow down the skills you want to gain, and industry you want to work in.
A good way to do this is to look at who has your dream job. Social media channels such as Instagram and Linkedin can be a good place to start. Or take a look at our Creative Directory to find local creatives who may potentially be open to offering support and advice. If you and your mentor share similar interests and goals, you’ll maximise the benefit of their guidance.
2. Join and interact with creative networks.
Networks like Creative Wakefield and Unlimited allow you to check directories so you can see what kind of roles people have in the creative industry. Take the time to interact and engage with individuals in the network, whether digitally on social media platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn, or in person at networking events. You can make yourself known to people by supporting their content, offering a comment or liking posts. This way, you can get to know who’s the right fit to be your mentor. People are also more likely to respond to your request if they know who you are.
3. Keep up to date with formal mentoring opportunities.
Creative networks also tend to provide and/or promote development opportunities where formal mentorships might be on offer. These could involve a formal application where you’ll need to demonstrate how you are a good fit for the opportunity, and how it will benefit your creative development. So keep an eye on what these networks post on their digital platforms.
4. Take advantage of existing creative mentoring schemes.
The following platforms can be good places to start if you’re looking for mentoring:
Ad:venture – Supporting start-ups across Leeds City Region and West Yorkshire.
Advance – Advance is a support programme for creative and cultural practitioners, freelancers, organisat ions and SMEs based in Wakefield and the wider Yorkshire Humber region.
Ok Mentor – If you’re a female undergraduate, this scheme is a great opportunity to have a crash course directly from a top industry professional.
UpRising – Supporting the next generation of leaders across the political, public and private sector from diverse backgrounds across England and Wales.
R.O.O.M. – Founded by Kenya Hunt, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE magazine, this scheme focuses on tackling the lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry by pairing mentees with fashion editors, academics and stylists.
Click here for more support on professional development in creative industries.