I emailed my Graphic Guru Natalie Wood to ask her how she felt when she was about to leave Uni. I told her I was excited to start my own work but nervous about how to go about getting it. I also said I was reluctant to leave the security of Uni and the advice of tutors. She got back to me with an extremely detailed and thought out email which was really kind.
She gave me some great advice which included not to slip into the routine of not doing anything. I sometimes lack motivation but she pointed out that you have to be self motivated in order to get yourself work. The main point she made was not to sit and wait - you've got to get out there and find work because it won't come to you without some serious effort on your behalf.
Read her reply:
Thanks for your email. Wow I remember the feeling of the last week of uni. I bet you're crazy busy!
To be honest it was a bit of an anti-climax when I graduated. All of the working towards something final, all the long hours you put in to your work..and then that's it! It's all over!
It's quite easy to slip into a routine of not getting anything done, seeing as there's no-one around you to motivate you anymore..but you just need to crack on.
I was quite scared of finding work to start with. I kept wondering if I was capable of actually producing ideas and images that were good enough for magazines etc. But I worked my way through big lists of art directors and contacted them by email, sending out samples of my work in the post as well as by email. It took quite a few months (of feeling quite deflated) before I finally got my first commission, but then after that was out of the way it seemed quite natural.
I emailed agents too when I graduated but they all wanted to see experience first, so once I got a few commissions under my belt I contacted them all again. The work is still slowly building up for me still, even with my agent. Sometimes I can have nothing for a couple of weeks..and then I can have say 3-front covers all to work on at once. You just have to be good at time management and prioritizing. I work part-time hours too so I regularly find myself working until about 4am to make sure I can get a job done in time. I'd rather be working like that than have nothing to do though, so I'm grateful for every commission I get.
So I suppose my main piece of advice is not to sit around and wait..start your self promotion now so that you can get your first few commissions out of the way. After that it will just be a steady process of building up your portfolio and hopefully the more jobs you do the more you will get.
I hope this has helped in some way! When is your degree show by the way? I'd love to come to it.