From Personal

Jane Bowyer on becoming a freelancer

Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | Many of our creative graduates will be building portfolio careers after completing their degrees. For some, freelancing will be a smooth transition, due to the networking and creative briefs that they have been involved in whist studying. Others, will be considering freelancing as a career option for the first-time.

Job searches, and identifying what your career path means to you, can be a lonely process, so it is always good to be inspired by others, and to learn from their advice and career journeys to help you plan yours. Subscribe to blogs, e-newsletters, and if not already, use LinkedIn to connect with like-minded creatives, and start following companies to keep you updated with opportunities.

This article, I hope will inspire those who are ready to take the next step to freelancing, a portfolio career or being a DISCO entrepreneur.

I LOVE LINKEDIN – SERIES RECAP | #BeBoldConnect | Post 6 of 6

Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | Writing my themed ‘I Love LinkedIn’ blogs for the past six weeks has been so much fun. Why? I have loved having the opportunity to share my thoughts and I hope useful advice to inspire others to connect with like-minded professionals, embrace your personal brand and to make sure it reaches out to as wide a professional audience as possible.

To make sure this series ends on a high, here is my ‘I Love LinkedIn’ top 3…

1. “Do you remember the first time” – How do you get your first or next connection

Always remember, that LinkedIn is not a professional networking platform to put on hold until you are successful, and established in your profession/industry. LinkedIn is all about the professional journey, and celebrating each professional achievement. Professionals that you connect with, enjoy receiving profile updates. Why? Because they like to be a part of your career/professional journey.

Getting that first connection is not hard, for most starting out on LinkedIn, it is more about the fear of connecting, ‘what if my request to connect is rejected?’ That should never be a reason to not send a connect request. As I have said each week #BeBoldConnect as there are plenty of LinkedIn users like myself and who will want to connect with you.

So before you start sending out connect requests, do your research first on the industry and profession you want to be a part of, get to know your networks inside and out, and do not forget to include your current and previous employers. You will amaze yourself as to how colleagues you can connect with, and who will be supportive to your future career.

Remember, LinkedIn is about connecting with people you know, like and trust. Do not be offended if not everyone chooses to connect with you.

2. “Reach for the stars” – Identify the top 20-25 profiles , and how they will help you address any employment gaps

I am a great believer of being inspired by other professional profiles, and the best way to get to know an industry, is to learn early on, and identify how many opportunities are available, and what do you need to do be successful and to steadily develop within it. My favourite part of connecting with professionals is to work through their career history, I love to see what types of work experience, internships they organised whilst studying, were they involved in extra-curricular/society work at University, what was their first graduate entry-level role? How many years did it take them, to develop into managerial/executive roles? Did they work in a variety of industries? Have they freelanced? Do they have portfolio careers/are they DISCO entrepreneurs?

If you are struggling identify these amazing profiles/connections, do a quick ‘Top 20…’ or ‘Top 25…’ professional search. Then all you need to do is to sit back with a coffee and get to know the industry.

3. “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name” – The Introductions

For the past six weeks I have introduced a number of LinkedIn superstars, if you need a quick reminder of who they are, click on profiles below:

“Bring Me Sunshine” – Thank you for reading my blog

So here are my LinkedIn facts & figures…

My profile link |
My connections | 1,394
Account | Basic
Profile Strength | nearly, just nearly an ‘All Star’
Favourite LinkedIn tool | opportunity to showcase the creative you – portfolio of work

I LOVE LINKEDIN – FIND YOUR CAREER PATH | #BeBoldConnect | Post 5 of 6

Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | This weeks’ blog is all about how to use LinkedIn to maximise your career/job search. So many of us invest quality time in building a profile, networking, and enjoying seeing our connections grow, and then stop. Why? There is so much more LinkedIn users can do to support their sector insight, and here is the bit I love, be inspired by others professional journeys and advice. And, wait, there is more, platforms to help you job search, and for students and graduates just starting out, advice and resources, to help you set yourself realistic goals that will then turn into internships, graduate schemes, and work experiences that you can later feed into your profile.

Through my 1-2-1s with under-graduates, I always introduce LinkedIn, to show students how they can obtain sector specific advice to support them in personalising their job/internship searches. When you are just starting out in your career, trying to get into an industry/profession can be quite daunting, and it is very easy to quickly get ‘the fear’ which, leads to questions such as “why would anyone hire me?” or “I have no experience or skills, so why should I apply for this job?”

Be inspired. These articles will provide you with just that, and they will help you understand that you are not on your own. We all had to start somewhere, and these career stories will provide you with golden nuggets of advice, to help you along your career path.

& seeing as my blog theme is all about my love for LinkedIn, here are some words of wisdom from the LinkedIn Founder and its HR Chief. – LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman’s Advice for Entrepreneurs

There are over 30M+ students and graduates who are LinkedIn users, which speaks volumes as to how many groups, connections advice and resources that are available via LinkedIn, here are just a few, to get you started:

Here is my last top tip for this week, and is my favourite piece of advice that I gladly share through my 1-2-1s identify the top 20 /top 25 profiles of a profession that you are interested in pursuing. Then, be bold, and view, their profiles, and work through their career history. Find out what types of roles you need to do before you can achieve mid/senior management status. Not only will you be inspired, but also it will help you identify if you have any gaps in your career history that you can fill with amazing experiences. In addition, you may learn that internship experiences with companies that you never knew existed. – Top Producer Director profiles on LinkedIn – Top Textile Designer profiles on LinkedIn – Top Freelance Photographer profiles on LinkedIn


Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | My love of working with and mentoring creatives is a part of my job, which I absolutely enjoy, and partner that with my love of LinkedIn, and I am a very happy camper. For me, LinkedIn is the perfect platform for creatives to showcase their work, and that may be in the form of a creative portfolio, or links to their work, and/or blog. Plus, LinkedIn provides a business market place for creatives to network, and work collaboratively.

So this week, I am going to let some amazing creative profiles speak for themselves, and I have selected profiles that showcase creatives at various stages of their careers. What all of them have in common is passion, and confidence in promoting their personal brands. I have chosen profiles that have a connection to the Manchester School of Art (MSoA) purely because the MSoA students are whom I mentor and this includes supporting them develop their LinkedIn profiles.
Common themes running through all of the following profiles, include ability to visually promote their work, up-to-date employment histories, eye-catching profile summaries, creative & technical skill endorsements, recommendations and following groups.

Emma McAndrew | Graduated 2002 |Manchester School of Art |BA Textiles in Practice |Knitwear Designer
Freelance knitwear designer following graduation, followed by design roles with high street fashion retailers, Dorothy Perkins, New Look and currently working for Miss Selfridge

Sophie Yesufu (Allan) | Graduated 2008 |Manchester School of Art |BA Textiles in Practice |Knitwear Designer
Established career as a knitwear designer, currently working for Dorothy Perkins.

Lois Albinson | Graduated 2012 – Manchester School of Art – BA Textiles in Practice – Knitwear Designer
Design intern 2012, established career as a knitwear designer, 2013, currently working for Visage Limited

Lucy Caton | Current Manchester School of Art under-graduate | BA Fashion
Whilst studying, Lucy has interned with Zhejiang Fashion Institute Technology (China) and Threads Styling, and worked for Graduate Fashion Week

Lydia Cook | Current Manchester School of Art under-graduate | BA Fashion
Lydia is working part-time, and organised fashion related work experience whilst studying.

2015 Manchester School of Art – Graduates – Ones to Watch

Hannah Wallace | Junior Menswear Designer @ Collective Apparel
Award winning fashion graduate, multiple fashion related experiences.

Cat Scott | COLLIDE: Solo Sci/Art Exhibition @ Cat Scott
Uses LinkedIn to showcase her commissioned work and creative briefs

Laura Kent | Fashion Embroidery Graduate 2015 | Freelance Catwalk Wardrobe Assistant & currently travelling backpacker
Seeks out every opportunity to grow creatively. Over the past three years, Laura has worked on so many amazing projects, that there are too many to mention. So, view her profile and see for yourself, just how amazing she is.


Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | This time last week I was in full-on event planning mode, working with a number of amazing in-house service delivery teams that helped make last Wednesday a huge event success for our Manchester School of Art students, academic stakeholders and all of the fabulous creatives that took time out of what I know are jam packed diaries.

The events theme was a ‘Media Employer Networking’ where with the support of the Manchester School of Art Media Department, I was able to showcase 20 employers, creatives, freelancers to our Media under-graduates. Getting student/employer engagement ‘buy-in’ to a piloted event is always hard. Planning these types of events can take approximately 3 months to plan, and only on the day of the event can you be sure of it’s success…will students attend? Will all of your guests be available (there are always last minute cancellations)?

For all of the events I have organised, LinkedIn has been my ‘go-to’ to help me tap into my personal connections, and to research professionals, sectors and businesses to help me plan and organise my events. Last week’s event was no different, and my connections were able to assist in a number of ways…attend the event as a guest; help promote the event to their members via communication channels, providing me with contact recommendations.

A LinkedIn story that I want to share involves one of my LinkedIn connections. Lisa McReynolds. As I have previously mentioned in past blogs, I use LinkedIn daily, and last Tuesday, when I was reading my connection updates, I came across Lisa McReynolds profile update. What I love about so many of my connections is the professional history that is, linked to them. Lisa studied at MMU Business School (BA Advertising & Brand Management), and I worked with Lisa, providing placement/internship, mentoring support during her studies. Lisa interned with Carat Manchester, 2010/2011, and began her graduate career with Carat Manchester, 2012, as a Digital Media Assistant. Now, Lisa is a Digital Media Manager with Carat Manchester.

By being, connected to Lisa, I was able to pick up the phone, and introduce the Media event to her. Our working relationship, made the conversation personal, friendly, and an opportunity to discuss the possibility of Lisa attending the event. 24 hours before the event, I was not confident that Lisa would say yes, but she did!! Now, that is, what I call a result. Unfortunately, a change of business meeting location required Lisa to cancel, but…this has opened a door for Lisa and me to work together in the future.

LinkedIn connections that have been so valuable to the organising of our event and new connections include: – Digital Media Manchester | Carat Manchester – Senior Lecturer (Photography) | Manchester School of Art – Architectural Photographer – Photography Editor | Intern Magazine – Divisional Head | Reading Room – Creative Director | Reading Room – Managing Director | Manchester Digital – Architect | DMWR Architects / Cumin Design Academy – Marketing & Communications Professional


Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | For most of us, as soon as the word ‘networking’ is mentioned, we go into a cold sweat, and respond with “oh, I am not very good at networking”, and let’s not even think about going to an event on your own, and building up the confidence to introduce yourself, and talk to fellow professionals. Even if you do manage to attend the event, did you remember those lovely glossy business cards? For some reason we believe networking is only for the selected few.

This is why I love LinkedIn, not just for building my own professional networks, but also within my job and service delivery as a Placements Officer within Higher Education. Every day, I support under-graduates (Manchester School of Art and Humanities/Social Science students) with organising placement & work based learning experiences to support their degrees, and opportunities that will help, them identify what type(s) of career paths they would like to pursue following graduation.

18-21+ year old, under graduates, rarely identify themselves as confident, polished, networkers. Nor, do they believe, that they are in a position to build a professional network, and it is my job to help them see who they are, & what they have achieved through their degree, volunteering, work experience and extra-curricular activities, that this is the ideal opportunity to start connecting with a wide range of professionals.

Like a traditional CV, revising, updating, changing the layout, pondering on what parts of your CV is now out of date, writing and re-writing, and re-writing again your personal profile, and holding back on sending your CV to employers until (in your eyes) it is perfect. Many LinkedIn users to the same with their profiles. They update, re-write, re-write again, change their profile picture (multiple times), upload their portfolios, until it is reads and looks fantastic; but, what, good is that without, like-minded professionals having the opportunity to look in, and review your profile, and read your updates on a regular basis?

So the million-dollar question…how do I get my first connection? Easy, research your work and academic background to date. For under-graduates, this means starting with your degree, search for peers on your course, and for colleagues who teach you. If you are stuck on names, search under University name and/or course name, this will widen your search, and help remind you just how many professionals you are, connected, to. For many students, extra-curricular activities are a large part of the student experience, so as well as connecting with others, and don’t forget to start following interest groups, as this will help introduce you to a larger professional audience, and before you know it, you will be receiving connection requests. See, how easy is networking, and you thought networking was not for you.

Get in the habit of searching your current employer, to identify colleagues you work with, and then connect. You can then work backwards through your employment history and start identifying connections. Remember most companies can, be followed on LinkedIn, this will help grow your networks, and you will be, and kept up with news and opportunities.

The students I work with are usually seeking a wide range of placement and work based learning experiences during their 3-4 years of study at University. For some, getting into a sector/profession can initially feel difficult, and for some, impossible. So through my 1-2-1 sessions, we use LinkedIn to research companies, and one of my favour tips is to intern search, ie. search under ‘Top 20 textiles interns’ or ‘Top 20 media interns’, this will produce a list of intern profiles, that you can view, and will help a student see where they have interned, what their employment history has involved, and the types of skills they have gained/developed. In addition, it helps to see how other professionals within industry showcase and promote themselves through their profiles.

So, this is where we take our networking up a notch, this is where we, transform ourselves into bold and confident networkers, use your growing network to introduce you to new connections, to enable you to connect and network with them long-term. Go on, be bold, and try it.

Top tip, when you are sending out connection requests, take time to personalise your requests, make the person you are connecting with feel special, and wherever possible introduce yourself, and if you have previously met them through a talk, event, workshop, business development – mention the when, where and how’s.
As I work with so many under-graduates, and I am pleased to say, connected with so many as well, receiving updates when they have connected with others brings a huge smile to my face, and I feel that I have done my job well, building their confidence, and seeing them grow into LinkedIn superstars.

I LOVE LINKEDIN | #BeBoldConnect | Post 1 of 6

Kirstin on Fullback and Friends | I have set myself the challenge of writing six themed blogs, and my chosen theme is LinkedIn. Now I am the first to hold my hand up and admit that technology is not my greatest strength, and yes, I do not mind admitting that I am a what is known as a ‘technophobe’, but with regards to LinkedIn, I can safely say I am a massive fan.  I love LinkedIn.

This blog is the first of six, and I hope, will provide me with a platform to introduce my professional background and experience in using LinkedIn.

So, here are the facts & figures…

My profile link |
My connections | 1,532
Account | Basic
Profile Strength | nearly, just nearly an ‘All Star’
Favourite LinkedIn tool | opportunity to showcase the creative you – portfolio of work

People I am proud to be, connected, too…

Far too many to mention, but two professionals I am inspired by and enjoy following their professional successes are Lisa TSE (MBE) and Laura Kent (Manchester School of Art, 2015 Textiles in Practice Graduate). Why? Lisa studied, BA Business at Manchester Metropolitan University (1996 – 2000), which is where our professional connection began. Lisa graduated, working for family business, Sweet Mandarin (Manchester). Since 2004, Lisa’s business role is as CEO – Sweet Mandarin, 2012 – operates a Sweet Mandarin sauce manufacturing business (Manchester), & co-author of two cook books. Yep, I did warn you, inspirational.

Laura Kent is a creative professional, that, I am so proud to have connected with whilst studying at the Manchester School of Art (2012 – 2015), and was one of my first Art School students who engaged with me as a placement & work based learning mentor, when I set up my service delivery two+ years ago. When I introduced Laura to LinkedIn, she got it immediately, a professional platform to showcase her creative achievements, follow and connect with like-minded creatives in the industry, update her profile with all of her amazing internships, bursaries, awards, volunteering – and, Laura grabbed every opportunity available to her (& continues to do so). I know that Laura’s has an amazing future ahead of her, and as with Lisa Tse, I will be there in the background, proudly cheering Laura on.

A little bit about me, I have 20+ years’ experience working within Higher Education, areas of expertise are placement & work based learning mentoring and business development, event management and networking. Sector knowledge includes Architecture; Creative; Third Sector and Business. I am a ‘business geek’, I love working with industry professionals, following business trends, and introducing meaningful opportunities to our students at the Manchester School of Art, Manchester School of Architecture and Manchester Metropolitan University. As a mentor, I support under-graduates with all aspects of their recruitment and selection process when organising placement & work based learning, help them tailor personalised job searches, and provide 1-2-1 support. In addition, during 2015/2016 I have designed and delivered under-graduate LinkedIn Masterclasses; created/manage multiple LinkedIn Placement & Work Based Learning – Course Groups; & my team promotes #LinkedInThursdays on our Facebook Group.

So finally, how do I use LinkedIn? LinkedIn is in the background of all of my work, as soon as I log-on to my computer, I sign into LinkedIn as well. All of the groups I manage, are fed and checked daily, I respond to in-box messages, review invite requests, check connection updates ie. work anniversaries, new job updates etc, and regularly check newsfeed. In addition, I use LinkedIn at my 1-2-1 sessions, reviewing student profiles, showing them how to search for companies, employees, and job opportunities to support their job searches. &, as my job involves a lot of business development/networking, I keep a business card drop on my desk, to make sure that I follow up on LinkedIn after business meetings/events etc.

Do you enjoy using LinkedIn as much as me? Do you find it is supportive to your work, and helps showcase all of your professional achievements and successes? If yes, I look forward to sharing, my next blog post with you next week.

NEW PAGE ADDED | The Fashion Industry, Stay Excited Series 1 Collected Edition

Mark on Fullback and Friends | Over the past 6 weeks Laura Kent has been contributing to my blog Fullback and Friends. I first got to know Laura when I mentored her about business cards and websites. In fact this is her testimonial from that time:

“Whatever the problem, day or time (be it 7am or midnight), I know that I am always welcomed with any questions that I may have. His teaching styles are creative, enjoyable and valuable. He is very honest with his opinion and gets straight to the point. Mark’s kindness and helpfulness constantly makes me smile, and sets me up for a day full of motivation, even on some of my more challenging days. MB is clearly very knowledgeable; be it about web design, professional online presence or even Disney princesses. I feel as though I can really be myself and talk about any problems that I feel relevant; Mark will always help, however possible”

I guess it was mentored her about business cards, websites and DISNEY PRINCESSES!

Laura became a good friend and regularly commented and shared posts on my Facebook page. It was only logical that we invited her to contribute to our blog. This is the Collected edition of her first Series. This is an amazing collection of posts and a must read for anyone that has recently graduated and wants to stay excited about their degree subject, be it fashion or not. Read it and share.



Laura on Fullback and Friends | As I have now come to the final post of this series, I thought that it would be appropriate to offer a recap of the top three key points I believe I can offer to anybody aspiring to work/ working within the fashion industry.

  1. STAY CREATIVE. In this industry, I find that there is some form of inspiration in every direction that I turn- the people that I work with, the clothing I work with, the connections that I make. . the list goes on. It is important to remember to keep creative, especially through the difficult times. Refuel, reflect and stay inspired.
  1. VARY YOUR EXPERIENCES. Work hard and be stubborn about your goals, yes, but also try something new every once in a while… It might surprise you. Although I have not been in this industry very long at all, I never imagined doing some of the things, and enjoying them, as much as I have done. You never know who you might meet and who might change your life and goals for the better.
  1. LOVE WHAT YOU DO. Simple and most important. Choose a career that you love, that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and that makes you proud. Never settle for something that you do not love just because it’s ‘convenient’ or ‘pays the bills’. Even if the situation isn’t great, never ever give up on your dreams. If you want something bad enough, you will achieve it.

If you are interested in reading more about an insider’s view of the fashion industry, or simply want to refresh your memory from earlier blog posts, my previous posts in this #StayExcited series can be found:

Alternatively, if you have been inspired by any of mine or other contributors’ posts to the Fullback and Friends blog, why not apply to become a regular contributor? I personally love having a collaborative working space that I am able to contribute my views/ experiences to.  Sharing a creative platform with other creatives, helps to constantly motivate and inspire.


Laura on Fullback and Friends | Usually when discussing the fashion world, many that have no passion nor experience within the subject matter know very little about the actual goings on of the industry, or much rather, have preconceived perceptions of what it must be like.

There is no doubt that many people have gained unrealistic assumptions regarding the fashion industry, from the famous (and fictional) character of Miranda Priestley- a demanding, intolerable editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine in New York City; created from Lauren Weisberger’s novel and movie, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. For anybody that has not watched the film, I highly recommend you do. It is full of quips and laugh-out-loud moments, but by no means, realistic. Watch the trailer here:

I am sure that there must be some ‘devils’ to work with in the fashion industry, but so far, I have found none. Every individual that I have worked with or for so far has genuinely been friendly, helpful and clearly passionate about their work/job, with their intention being to make sure that all runs as smoothly and as enjoyably as possible for all. It is a truly inspiring feeling to work with such individuals.

Whilst researching a little into the different opinions that people have regarding the fashion world, I came across an interesting article by an industry insider, that depicts the 9 most common misconceptions of working in the fashion industry-  – all of which, I agree with.

In contrast to ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, 2009’s ‘The September Issue’ documentary shows a prime example of being able to experience the true behind-the-scenes view of what it is like and what it takes to survive, in the industry. The documentary chronicles the “real life ‘Devil Wears Prada’” Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour’s preparations for their 2007 fall-fashion issue. My favourite thing about Wintour is her obvious passion and love of fashion, as well as the fact she is, like us all, a normal human being. 73 Questions with Anna Wintour depicts her take on real life, showing that it isn’t always all about the over-priced glamour and finer things in life  –

The fashion industry is not something to be afraid of, more, enjoyed and excited about. I love the versatility, the challenges, the anticipation of what’s to come during each different job I take part in. Most importantly for me, I work backstage because of the people that I get to meet and the friendships that are formed. Many a time I have found myself in conversation with somebody that has worked in the industry for many years before me, and I found myself being inspired thinking about the infinite possibilities that I am able to gain from taking on this career.