The Careers Adviser

How can I keep working with art but earn more? And should I give up my university course?
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The Independent Online

Money matters

Q. I'm 28 and have good degrees in arts management and art history. I've worked my way up through volunteering and part-time work to a position as the events and marketing coordinator in a gallery. I really enjoy my job but am struggling to live on the £18,500 salary.

A. You are passionate about your job and have worked hard to get where you are. It seems as if it's the money that's the problem for you rather than the work, so it's worth broadening your search for opportunities in the same field, but outside the cultural sector.

In the financial world, for example, large companies are often active patrons of the arts and you could see if there is a way of combining your interests with opportunities in a commercial setting.

Sponsors for exhibitions, galleries and awards may have openings that interest you, or you could investigate charities, universities and local authorities. You might also think about concentrating on one particular side of things - events and marketing are separate career paths. Try the Chartered Institute of Marketing or the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising for initial information.

An art advisory role (say for the Arts Council) is also a possibility. Check out event industry salaries on www.eventmagazine.co.uk/pdfs/IndustrySalarySurvey.pdf; look up job vacancies on the Events Industry Alliance website www.eventsindustryalliance.com; and speak to the recruitment agency members of the Association of Event Organisers (AEO). Their details can be found on www.aeo.org.uk.

Repetitive strain

Q. I'm in my second year of design management and I'm not enjoying it. The first year repeated a lot of what I'd already done in my A-levels, and even this year is tedious. Before I started, I wanted to pursue a career in brand management, but I feel that business students will have an advantage over me. I am wondering whether to leave and pursue a different career going down the apprentice route.

A. I sympathise with your frustration. However, you are quite a long way through your university career, so you need to think whether your dissatisfaction with the course is so great you really can't continue.

Rather than abandoning it completely, you could ask your university if it would consider suspending your studies for a year, while you have some time out. But this can be tricky to arrange.

You also need to consider the advantages in terms of career progression and salary of being a graduate - especially in the field you mention, where apprenticeships in the formal sense don't really exist. A look at the online prospectus suggests your degree does cover a combination of subjects that would appear to be useful for the route you want to take. You would be able to demonstrate that elements of your degree, such as those in design, are very relevant.

You shouldn't feel you have missed the boat - many people come to marketing via a later qualification. Graduates in any subject can opt to take the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Professional Diploma, which can be studied part time and combined with work. You could then specialise in brand management later. Competition for jobs in marketing will always be tough, but there is no reason why with persistence and enthusiasm you shouldn't succeed.

Look at the detailed job profiles for the sector on www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations; and the brand manager case study on www.prospects.ac.uk/links/retail, as well as a useful article about brand managers on www.connexions-direct.com/jobs4u/index.cfm.

Careers advisers: Margaret Holbrough, Graduate Prospects careers consultant; Susan Goldie, careers adviser, the Careers Group, University of London

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