Creative Students Get Set to Learn Business Nous

ucol-logoSome people seem to be born for business and others, maybe not so much. And then there are those who think, “I’m creative, I’m artsy, I don’t need to think about business”. Well, think again.

Starting this year, it is compulsory for all third-year students enrolled in UCOL’s Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging (BAVI) to attend BCC’s Startup Weekend, where, in 54 hours, you build a business.

Following graduation, says Rachel Hoskin, BAVI head of school, most of the photography students work as freelancers or they start a business; the design students might end up in an agency but even if they get work with a big gun like Weta Workshop, they’re hired as contractors.

“They need to have a business head. Completing a business class in their third year has always been compulsory, but we’ve found that a lot of the students tend to switch off when it comes to learning about business. They ask things like ‘why do we have to be here?’”

The answer is actually quite simple.

“You can be creative, you can win lots of awards for your photography or design, but when you finish at UCOL and get into the real world, you’re going to need to bill your clients. You’re going to need to figure out how to run a business,” says Dave Craig, BCC marketing manager.

“Most creative people don’t want to work for someone else, but even if they do, they can’t ride on someone else’s success. Everyone has to figure out their own worth and how to promote that.”

Startup Weekend gives the students the tools needed for setting up a business and it does so in a much more enjoyable way than sitting in a lecture.

But convincing the BAVI students to attend Startup Weekend on their own was an exercise in futility. Ever since Startup Weekend launched in 2012, Hoskin and the course tutors have tried to encourage the students to attend.

“We’ve said, ‘look, here’s a cool and creative thing to do’,” she says. “But that didn’t work. So we tried to appeal to their appetites. We said, ‘here’s a cool and creative thing to do – and you get fed for three days!’” Still no go.

Then she added a sweetener: “I even offered to pay their registration fee – so they could do the cool and creative weekend and get fed for free. Still, they weren’t interested. But it’s really important, so this year, we’ve made it mandatory.”

What students learn during the weekend meshes perfectly with their business class.

“Students coming out of a design (or any) degree need to understand their worth,” says Craig.

“By participating in Startup Weekend, they learn some basic tools and face some basic questions: how much do I invoice a client? How will I learn how to find clients? How do I market myself and figure out the right channels to business?

“I hate to sound like a televangelist, but the biggest thing most people get out of Startup Weekend is learning more about themselves. The weekend is about teamwork, collaboration and building something. Most participants need a day after it to reflect back on what they’ve accomplished in 54 hours.”

This year’s Startup Weekend begins at 6pm on Friday 22 May and wraps up at 8pm on Sunday 24 May. For more information and to register go to Startup Weekend.

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