5 essential tips for music students after graduation

Our Careers & Employability Manager gives his essential tips for anyone preparing to complete their studies... 


Graduating from university can be a challenge for students under any circumstances as you leave the structured environment of education.  

However, currently, those completing their studies are facing even more uncertainty than usual due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Although every graduate is different, there are certain paths many take after leaving university.

As we head towards the end of the academic year, ICMP’s Careers & Employability Manager Oliver Tatler breaks down the directions graduates usually head in after study.​ 

Find temporary work to gain transferable skills

Some graduates will start looking for part-time or full-time work on finishing university. This may be in the form of an entry-level graduate job (aimed at those leaving university) or a temporary role.

Internships (a term given to part-time or full time, paid or unpaid employment up to six months in duration) are also a great way to gain practical experience in your chosen area. Volunteering can also be another way to build transferable skills.

Look across a range of company sizes and don’t forget small and medium sized employers (SMEs) They can provide you with the chance to work flexibly across different types of activity and build up a wider skillset!"

If you don’t know where to start, then the Careers & Industry Hub can help you start reflecting on the potential areas of interest you have and help you throughout the application process for these roles.

Become self-employed and follow a DIY career path

Many ICMP graduates will work as self-employed freelancers for at least part (and sometimes the majority of) their careers.

Working for yourself (rather than as a company employee) means you will need to consider a number of factors as you're effectively operating as a small business.

This means planning out life after graduation is especially important. You may also want to reflect on whether self-employment is for you.

"While being your own boss might sound fun, you'll need to balance multiple responsibilities such as providing the core services you are offering and effectively marketing your business (including finances and potentially staff management)." 

You'll also have to deal with the uncertainty surrounding the availability of work and there can often be a blurring of your professional and personal life. 

However, many find this to be a fulfilling and empowering way to build a career. You can find more info on what it means to be self-employed and other helpful advice via the Careers & Industry Hub’s resources on My.ICMP.

Explore further study

If your experience of education has left you hungry for further intellectual stimulation, you might consider further study at degree, Masters or even PhD level.

While a passion for a subject is a great reason to consider this option, you should take time to reflect on your reasons for wanting to continue study. It can often be an expensive option and isn’t always a requirement for all types of employment.

Part-time, full-time and online learning are also options so make sure you've considered which might be best for you in terms of making you more employable!

Build up your skill set through a gap year

Some people decide not to work or continue studying after completing their current course. While travel isn’t currently possible for graduates at the time of writing, there are many potential benefits to international travel once this becomes an option again.

Undertaking travelling as part of a gap year can help make you a more attractive candidate for job applications, developing key skills such as organisational and planning, independence and cultural sensitivity." 

Working while abroad further develops these and other skills and can help solidify your future career plans.

ICMP students - always rely on your career service

Once you graduate from ICMP, you retain access to support and guidance from the Careers & Industry Hub and join a creative community of ICMP alumni in the UK and internationally!

Services available from the Careers & Industry Hub include:

  • Job Applications. We provide a range of support including reviewing CVs, cover letters and application forms for all jobs and opportunities.
  • Building your Creative Career. Guidance and advice on topics such as release and marketing strategies, raising your profile as a musician, connecting you with industry and much more.
  • Building your Portfolio Career. Guidance and advice on topics such as identifying a range of potential career paths, further education and building revenue streams as well as guidance on working as a self-employed freelancer.
  • Attend our exclusive events. We provide a range of events focussed on connecting you with industry practitioners, employers and other professionals.
  • Refresher Sessions. These are designed to help ‘top-up’ your professional skills and develop your commercial awareness of key trends and developments.
  • Information and resources. Housed on My.ICMP, you have access to an archive of key information and resources across a range of topics.
  • International Networks. Access an international network of ICMP alumni working across the music and wider industries.
  • Mentorship. Access to a broad range of alumni mentors via our exclusive ICMP Life platform.
  • Job Opportunities. Access to job and performance listings and other exclusive opportunities through the ICMP Life platform.
  • Keeping in Touch. We will reach out and contact you to make sure your plans are on track and identify how we can best support you.

ICMPLife - our exclusive community platform

All ICMP students and alumni have access to one of the largest and most diverse music communities in the UK through our ICMPLife platform.

The platform, which includes a mobile app, is a closed-community offering a place to continue to collaborate, network, seek feedback and self-promote beyond ICMP. The platform also hosts our regularly updated jobs and opportunities board, along with offering users access to exclusive 1:2:1 A&R sessions and industry events.

Please contact the Careers & Industry Hub via alumni@icmp.ac.uk if you have any questions or need further guidance. Good luck! 

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

Find your course
by Oli Tatler, Careers and Industry Hub
April 29, 2020
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