Laura Varley: Getting a creative MBA without a degree

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Every day between 9am and 5pm, you dream of having that job you’ve always wanted. As proven by many, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, and acquiring an executive MBA for the creative industries can help you achieve them.

What if you don’t already have a degree, though? While some universities and business schools won’t let you participate in the programme without a degree, there are plenty that will accept you based on experience. If you have never attended university and don’t plan to do so in the future, here’s how to get a creative MBA.

What experience do I need?

Whether you have a degree or not, work experience is vital if you want to apply for an MBA programme. Applicants without a degree, however, will typically need to have a few more years of work experience under their belts.

You often don’t need to have any experience working in the creative industry, which is great for anyone looking to change their career path, but it does help to have some. During the course, you will be required to base your assignments on an organisation relevant to the creative career path you want to follow, so having some insider knowledge on how such organisations work will obviously come in handy.

Essentially, unless the school you’re looking at has very specific experience requirements, a good number of years working in any industry should be enough to get you on the creative MBA course.

What other benefits does relevant work experience offer to creative MBA students?

As you are probably aware, getting a job in any creative industry is difficult, as it is so competitive. Relevant work experience will not only help you get the qualification you want, it will also put you in good stead to land the role in the industry you desire to work in.

Even if you’re only freelancing for a film or television studio whilst you’re completing your course, the contacts you create there will be key. Once you’ve completed your MBA, you can get in touch with them and let them know. They may know someone with the perfect role for you.

What’s the best way to secure creative work experience?

Internships can be a great way to learn about the inner workings of the industry you want to be involved in, but they are usually only offered out to younger people. Plus, you may not be able to afford to take a couple of months off to complete one. Therefore, either freelancing or doing your own projects for fun outside of work may be the best option; both will boost your creative industry experience and start building that big book of useful contacts.

Freelancing is a great way to earn a bit of extra cash and get your name out there. You may find it difficult to secure freelance work without previous experience in that field, so consider what you’re good at, and use those skills to get your foot in the door. For example, if you’re a social media expert, but you want to work in the video games industry, offer your services to a small local games company. You can help them set up their social channels and manage them at the weekends.

Alternatively, you can focus on promoting and creating your own brand. If you want to run your own photography studio, start building your online portfolio. You should enter photography competitions to show off your skills and get your work seen by the right people. Even if your photo is only shortlisted, it’s a great thing to put on your CV or MBA application. You may not earn any money at first by taking this route, but it shows your tenacity and drive.

A creative executive MBA will teach you the skills you need in order to change your career or start your own business. Don’t stay unhappy, use your work experience to begin your degree and craft a career in the industry you really want to be a part of.

Click here to find out more about the Ashridge executive MBA qualification: https://www.ashridge.org.uk/qualifications/executive-mba-for-the-creative-industries/


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