We would like to introduce you to Donald Fogarty, a friend, ex-colleague and most importantly co-founder of FutureRising, the creative careers network. Donald, like many of us, wanted to pursue a job in the creative industry. Through a lot of hard work, determination and of course that cheeky unpaid internship, he has successfully found his way into the industry. Now though, he wants to make it a little easier for you and others following in his footsteps.
With a lot of research, testing and putting on events, Donald and Co-Founder Adam Oldfield successfully established FutureRising in 2011. The company is aimed at improving the opportunities for recent students and graduates entering the creative industry. We wanted to find out more about the FutureRising and to hear a few of his top tips for both employer and employee.
Explain to our readers and us what FutureRising is.
DF: FutureRising is a creative careers network. We provide resources and events for students to understand the industry, plugging them into a network to make the right connections. We also work with companies to provide more opportunities for experience and work.
It is a great idea, beneficial to many students entering industry; so why did you want to start the company initially?
DF: Unfortunately when leaving university, I realised I’d made the wrong education decisions; instead I knew I wanted to work in advertising but I didn’t know anything or anyone. I had to spend a couple of years being an unpaid intern and whilst the journey was worthwhile, it could have been so much easier.
We wanted to build a place whereby anyone could spend their time discovering and connecting, making the necessary contacts they needed. Everything we do has been born from the needs of students, professionals and teachers we’ve worked with.
Knowing that you wanted make FutureRising an established business, how did you go about beginning this exciting task?
DF: Adam and I used to meet on evenings and weekends. We pulled together a group of 10 other young people who felt passionately about this area too. I personally focused on finding a few mentors for our business, whilst Adam focused on spreading the word and finding out what people wanted.
We tested everything numerous times and still do! After creating a blog to get our thoughts out there, we asked our friends and colleagues to write educational and inspirational content for young people interested in creativity. Bournemouth University invited us to do an event shortly afterwards. We took the blog format offline and into practice by presenting our best contributors to speak to the students.
On the business side, we registered the business and trademarked our name before constantly updating our business plan. Our mentors would critique the business plan and our users would tell us what they wanted, which was all very useful feedback. We struggled to find out where the money was questioning whether the universities had it or if it was with companies? Testing meant we lost a deal of customers but now we know who we are and what we are about due to the research we undertook.
I wish I knew what I know now when we started, but then again a lot of people told us to do things that took us years to eventually accomplish. Even if advice makes sense, you have to experience and believe it to actually implement it.
The most important thing we completed was spending three years building a clear idea of what we wanted to do before we actually launched the company. It showed dedication and determination from our side, resulting in the platform we provide now.
I completely agree! You mention working with universities and customers, but who is it you actually work with currently?
DF: On a business level, we work with the bosses or HR teams in companies to help them find talent. We also work with employability teams or teachers at universities to help the students appeal to employers.
The platform is for students, professionals and teachers; when organising an event we work with approximately 100 students, three or four teachers and the same number of professionals. We now put on around 50 events a year now.
As far as our team goes there is myself, Adam, our Developer, Manoj, Membership Manager, Elle as well as a few other part time contributors. We get students in a lot too.
The events sound great and a fantastic opportunity. What is the most exciting event/project that you have completed to date? And did anything exciting coming up that you can tell us about?
DF: Two hundred and fifty students turned up to our first event! That was a big rush. We’ve recently held events at our office in Kings Cross where you get an amazing mix of people and you physically see a professional offer a student a job. That’s awesome and it makes us believe that what we do is working and paying off. We also do some strange things, for example, finding 12 students in two days to go to Fallon and work on a Cadburys brief. That was exciting and worked amazingly well!
In the near future we are getting big names to lead councils in different industry areas. For example Matthew Wright will lead the journalism council. He polarises his opinion but clearly adds a level of expertise to our talks and events, encouraging more people to join us and shows everyone how easy it is to inspire a young persons future. Fingers crossed we’ll do a conference next year too.
This all sound incredible, and I can’t encourage people enough to get involved. Obviously through these experiences you have picked up some great tips, what is your best advice for a student wanting to enter the industry?
DF: Be interesting! Work hard on personal projects and talk about them to easily achieve this.
Personal projects show motivation, inspiration, opinion, style, technique, ability and passion. People hire people and they also love to hire someone who brings something to their team, you’re not going to do that by just having a degree and explaining why Apple’s brand consistency inspires you.
Very true and what about from the other side, what is your top tip for an employee looking to take on a graduate?
DF: Test them, makes sure they know what they want to do and then you’ll know if that fits with what you want them to do. Don’t hire the one who applies to work in all departments or the one who already knows half the team. Set a challenge, give them a deadline and see how they deal with it. If they don’t want it they won’t do it, if they do want it, they’ll do it and you’ll know what they are capable of.
Donald and Adam hold many conferences and events through out the year, and for any of you students wanting advice on bettering themselves and progressing into industry, get yourself involved. Their website FutureRising.comcontains all the information needed.