6.12.18 Glasgow
downloadable pdf version

Here are some take-away points from our recent Careers Day for undergraduate, post-grad, doctoral and early career researchers. At this event selected speakers, in different jobs, sectors and areas of research, talked honestly about their career trajectories; their aspirations, right and wrong decisions, the surprises along the way, the deviations, and ultimately what career advice they would pass on to others (or their former selves).


  • Make yourself and your research available to others.
  • Talk to artists.
  • Build as many connections and networks as possible – make friends and try to keep them.
  • Don’t be too proud to take on menial work that may lead to other things, but don’t be exploited either.
  • You will probably have to work in bars and coffee shops or do other jobs that pay to enable you to pursue what you really want to do.
  • Connect with people – even via social media.
  • Learn how to use Excel spread sheets.
  • Apply for everything (you feasibly can*).
  • Get a mentor (or a couple of mentors for different things)
  • Volunteer strategically – think about the skills that you need and where to develop them.
  • Do more volunteering.
  • You don’t necessarily need a post-graduate qualification.
  • Do what you can that fits in with your particular circumstances, be that with looking after kids, working around full time work.
  • Know how to market your skills- academic & professional (project management, decision making etc).
  • Cast your net wide, and be open to all sorts of opportunities.
  • Conduct yourself professionally at all times ( t’s a small world) – be remembered for the right reasons.
  • *Don’t feel guilty for not applying for everything.
  • See lots of art! Go to lots of exhibitions, talk to lots of artists.
  • Internships (contentious but nevertheless vital – ideally paid).
  • Network (find tricks when you an introvert, like networking over social media)
  • Work incredibly hard.
  • Be the generation that change things and integrate better – think differently and question when you disagree.
  • Build a strong community of support.
  • Develop and promote the skills that others don’t have to make yourself valuable.
  • Don’t accept everything that people or institutions tell you to do.
  • Be bold.
  • Be mindful of your privileges and always think of others.
  • Read.
  • Be collaborative.
  • Bullying is not okay.
  • Exclusive behaviours are not okay.
  • Sometimes it is just about being in the right place at the right time.
  • Don’t let others limit you, or limit yourself!


  • Generosity of others- be it professional superiors or peers who help you make connections, or friends and family who give their time and support generously, be it by helping you out financially, looking after your kids, driving you to university or job interviews, or just saying ‘yes you can’ to the things that don’t make practical sense but are opportunities too important to miss.



We will be holding a new Academic and Professional Development Day in London on 7 March 2019. Organised by the Doctoral and Early Career Research (DECR) Project Board, this day is for doctoral and early career researchers keen to learn more about areas such as publishing, grant applications, post-doc funding, curating, teaching and broadening networks. We will also be launching our new DECR peer-peer mentoring scheme this Spring. Details will be online in the New Year. Details about our 2019 Careers Day, in Durham, will also appear next year. You can also find out more about our DECR network.

Contributors to the 2018 Careers Day were: Frances Fowle, Senior Curator at National Galleries of Scotland & Professor and ECA International Director at University of Edinburgh, Dominic Paterson, Lecturer in History of Art, University of Glasgow & Curator of Contemporary Art at The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Caroline Rae, Lecturer in Technical Art History, University of Glasgow, Jo Meacock, Curator of British Art at Glasgow Museums, Allison Whitehill, Learning and Access Curator – Burrell Redevelopment at Glasgow Life, Jessica Reid, Paintings in Hospitals, London, Charlotte Riordan, Head of Sales for Modern British & Contemporary Art/specialist in Scottish Art, Lyon & Turnbull Edinburgh, Aga Sablinska, Media Relations Strategist at PAVE Communications & Consulting, London, Marine Tanguy – CEO at MT Art Agency, London, Rosie Spooner, Lecturer in Museum Studies, University of Glasgow & Lecturer in Design History and Theory, Glasgow School of Art, Freya Gowrley, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Leila Riszko, Curatorial Assistant (Modern and Contemporary), National Galleries of Scotland. Thanks to all involved for their valuable time and insights.