October 18, 2016

Chris Cloud’s 11 Things All Students Should be doing in the Creative Economy

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Chris Cloud is an artist, curator, culture maker, and a fixture in Minneapolis’s creative milieu. He is the co-founder of MPLS.TV, an online Do-It-Together video network, MPLSzine, a submissions-based digital publication, and Pizza Camp, an overnight camp for pizza loving adults. Below he shares 11 things all students should be doing in the Creative Economy.

1. Create!

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Photo from Cloud’s “Where’s Cloud?” sticker art project

I can not stress this enough! It’s so important to go out there and create! More so than ever before, we have access to the means of production, like cameras, software, technology, the internet, etc. This has not always been the case. In 2009, I got tired of being a spectator and made a life style change to create and be creative. It was once of the best decisions I have ever made.

2. Collaborate!

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Photo from Negative Jam, Chris Cloud’s collaboration with Lea Devon Sorrentino

The internet has made the world accessible! People (and resources) that would be a lot harder to reach 15-20 years ago are right at your hands. For a long, long time people were all about working as the lone ranger. DIY, right? Now it’s DIT: Do-It-Together. You don’t have to be good at everything, and you probably shouldn’t be anyways.

3. Diversify your portfolio!

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Photo of Chris wrangling a llama by Emily Eaton

Which brings me to this, diversify your portfolio of creations! Why stick to specific form/industry when you can try a bunch of things and learn from different experiences. In the industrial economy, we were often trained by trade. Learn how to do these specific tasks and that’s it. This is the creative economy! Explore topics that interest you! Try things out. Fail. Take risks. Repeat.

4. Brand Yourself

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Photo by Matthew Couri Jacobs

What do you think about when you hear the word Pepsi? How about Airbnb? These are both brands and you should be too! It’s very important to encapsulate the essence of who you are. You don’t just have to be an artist or designer. You can be a creative designer or a social artist. Make a brand up and stick with it. It can even just be your name.

5. Get a Website

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Photo from chriscloud.com

It’s 2016. You need a website (with your own domain to boot). I love getting my domains from Namecheap.com. It’s the best $10 you can spend each year. You could also use a hosting service like Squarespace to set up your site. Put a solid photo of yourself up, your portfolio, and a bio.

6. Write a bio!

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Image via Chris Cloud

I’m not saying that resumes are fruitless but a lot of the ones I see can be jazzed up by adding a bio. You’re fascinating being that’s more than your experience on a page. You have a personality and your bio can show that. A lot of times companies hire on culture fit versus the amount experience you might have. Read this excellent article from 99u.

7. Join LinkedIn

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Image via Chris Cloud

It’s always good to get a LinkedIn and keep it updated. A lot of businesses and organizations are asking for your LinkedIn link in addition to your resume. This is a perfect place to elaborate on your personality and brand story. Make updates. Connect with interesting people. Just don’t set up your profile and forget it. People notice that!

8. Do Informational Interviews

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Illustration by Caleb Vanden Boom

As a college student, this is a great time to connect with many different people in lots of different industries. You can use LinkedIn to reach out to people in different industries. Most times, they’ll say yes because they’re willing to help a curious college student out and might even be admired that you inquired them. Ask questions! Lots of them. Send a thank you note after. Keep in touch with them. I hate to say this but a lot of jobs out there ARE NEVER POSTED ONLINE. Network! Network! Network! Expand it. Cultivate it. Nurture it.

9. Find Internships

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It’s very important to get tangible experience through internships. Apply for ones in industries that interest you. Internships are great way to test drive a business/organization all while gaining knowledge and expanding your network. Also, don’t be discourage if you don’t get the internship of dreams. Keep applying. Stay on the grind.

10. Join Student Activities

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Image via WAM Collective

Student Activities, like WAM Collective, are a great way to meet like-minded people and get experience of working on a team to accomplish goals. Activities are a great way to expand your portfolio and resume all while growing your leadership skills.

10. Find a Mentor

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Photo via Chris Cloud

Behind a creative individual are supporters who can provide mentorship, advice, and encouragement. They might be able to connect you with their network, look through your website/resume/portfolio, or answer questions you might have. See my mentors here.

Chris Cloud is always down to connect. He can be reached at connect@chriscloud.com.