A photo of Aiysha reading a book called They by Kay Dick. The book has a black cover with a red spine, and obscured Aiysha's face.

Starting Out in a Creative Career: Part One

12 Apr 2022

What's it really like being a participant on our Upgrade Yourself: Kickstart programme? Here, one of our participants Aiysha Nazir reflects on her time with Somerset House resident organisation Royal Society of Literature.

Somerset House is home to one of the UK’s largest creative community as well as being one of London’s best loved public spaces. On our Upgrade Yourself: Kickstart programme we paired emerging creatives and professionals with our network of resident organisations based in the building.

Words by Aiysha Nazir

Studying English at university was probably the start of anything creative in my life. I didn’t have any notions of a creative career – I was actually following a very different path but I think, at the time, I just wanted to do something that I knew I would enjoy. 

The Covid-19 pandemic was actually what convinced me of my place within publishing. I always thought a creative career would be difficult to get into but suddenly everything was difficult to get into. You really had to hold on to what made you feel good and what brought out the best version of you. It was such a bleak time and good stories – on screen, or on paper – were a place of refuge. I remember feeling so animated by great books, talking about why they were great and I thought, ‘if I can do something like this every day, I know I’ll be really happy.’

My role during the placement was Marketing and Administration Assistant, which kind of encompassed my two main roles; marketing and promoting RSL activity – whether that’s public events, awards or outreach programmes – alongside streamlining administrative processes for the wider team. I ended up doing more marketing-related tasks during my placement and there seems to be an overall, large demand for creative input from young professionals. 

"I would encourage any other employer to work with a kickstarter if [Aiysha] can offer the same dynamism yet professionalism that our participant took to the role. I hope that her experience in PR and social media she takes forward with her next steps in her career, as she clearly demonstrates a vocation for these skills"

Team Member, Royal Society of Literature

In short, my placement was everything I could have hoped for and more. It was an incredible opportunity from the outset and throughout I learnt so much, having come away with several new skills. That’s always a privilege at such an early stage of your career, so I’m very grateful. To have worked with some huge names, be part of high-profile events and contribute to the most exciting projects, has all been the experience of a lifetime.

More than anything however, I loved working around creative individuals who are passionate and dedicated towards what they do. The Royal Society of Literature team really took me into their family, embraced all my ideas and made me feel like a valued part of their organisation. From the outside, it’s really easy to float creative passions and interests around, but distilling them in to actual projects and initiatives takes an enormous amount of work. They taught me so much about having discipline in your career; having the tenacity, will and confidence to turn an idea into reality. 

During any kind of placement, it's easy to get wrapped up within the confines of your role – the Engagement and Skills team at Somerset House were wonderful in helping us network with creative individuals from the organisation and beyond. They were also such a brilliant point of support throughout the six months, with a modern and inclusive outlook on professional training. 

A creative career has a learning curve like no other – it’s challenging in ways you can’t anticipate or prepare for. I am so grateful to my host organisation, combined with support from Somerset House, in teaching me about professional boundaries and setting an excellent precedent for working in the creative industries.

The growth we have seen in the space of only six months is significant and I'm sure Aiysha will continue to develop a wide range of skills as she embarks upon a career in the publishing world. I hope that the placement has built her confidence and taught her some important lessons about workplace culture, setting boundaries and most of all - her worth as an employee!” 

Line Manager, Royal Society of Literature

Upgrade Yourself: Kickstart is in partnership with Westminster City Council, the UK Government's Kickstart Scheme and all participating placement organisations. 

With thanks to our supporters John Lyon's Charity, Blavatnik Family Foundation, Freelands Foundation and Young Talent Fund.