With discussions brewing around whether universities are adequately preparing graduates for real-world projects and pitfalls – particularly in such a turbulent social climate, which brings with it its own flurry of financial trap doors – starting out as a creative seems like a daunting task.
Launching today, Ok Mentor is the training and mentorship programme designed to help women equip themselves for the realities of life as a creative, which more often than not involves juggling the stresses of going freelance and, unfortunately, navigating a patriarchal battlefield.
Ok Mentor is the brainchild of Liz Stone, founder of social media-focused creative studio OK COOL, and Stefany Stanley, Senior Account Director at LinkedIn. Both co-founders will be partaking in mentoring themselves, alongside the initial line-up of fellow mentors Byredo and diptyque MD Amanda Morgan, Bumble’s Senior Marketing Manager Naomi Walkland, and Whitney Rosenthal, Head of Emerging Talent for Instagram in EMEA.
The scheme aims to help young creatives get their heads around pitching, contracting, writing contracts and grappling with those dreaded taxes. It also promises to help with “building your own personal brand”, which adds a decidedly 21st century flavour to the programme in light of how much this seems to be a concern for millennials.
The programme involves 12 hours of face to face training, which is spread across four sessions over two weeks, and applications are being taken from now until September 30. Crucially, it’s completely free of charge. Of course, since it’s based in Hoxton, anyone from outside the London area would need to fork out to get there in the first place, however a programme of this kind lends itself well to the prospect of expanding to other locations around the country.
Ok Mentor seems to be predominantly targeted at university students – either final year undergraduates or postgraduates – though it’s also open to those not in higher education, albeit provided they have “equivalent work experience”. This does admittedly risk raising the ever problematic question of how individuals get experience without being granted the opportunities to gain it in the first place. However, in this instance it seems understandable given the nature of the training, which addresses the more practical details of working life as a creative.
“There really aren’t any good resources for learning the fundamentals of getting started in the professional world. I had to learn the hard way by myself, and inevitably, I made a lot of mistakes,” says Stone. “Through Ok Mentor, I hope to help other young women just like me, who dream of building a long-term career in the creative industry.”
While there’s of course a long way to go before programmes such as these no longer need to exist, there’s undeniably a growing impetus around promoting more training and job opportunities for women and female-identifying creatives. This year alone has seen the launch of platforms like The Girlgaze Network and filmmaking-focused Free The Work, which are both pushing for inclusive hires in creative circles and taking the industry in the right direction.
Applications for Ok Mentor are open until September 30; okmentor.me