“I studied Graphic Design at Norwich University of the Arts and specialised in Illustration. When I did my master’s at the University of Brighton I got onto a work experience programme which encouraged me to explore options working in museums, galleries and visitor attractions.
“I was already working at the Roald Dahl Museum and that, plus experience in work placements and part-time and freelance jobs led me to work at the House of Illustration as the Retail and Visitor Services Manager. It seemed like the perfect role as it combined using the knowledge gained during my studies with hands-on design work, creating merchandise for exhibitions and working with illustrators.”
Searching for Something
Unfortunately, the effect of the pandemic hit hard for Holly, and she found that her job was no longer feasible.
“House of Illustration closed to the public during the first Lockdown – it was going to close anyway to move to a new venue (though not quite so soon) and so I had already known that redundancies were going to happen (though not that I would definitely be included).
“COVID sped everything up – I was furloughed but not for very long comparatively and was selected for redundancy. It was really difficult. I found myself without work during a global pandemic in which the industry for which I had developed my skills and experience for, had also closed down (and was making lots of redundancies rather than recruiting.)
“I tried applying for jobs that I thought I had transferable skills for but didn’t get any responses. A few people got in touch with freelance opportunities, but they all fell through because of COVID. I felt very despondent – endless rejections obviously have an impact on the way you feel. I tried to keep busy with online learning and creating my own artwork, but several times I spiralled into a panic that I would never work again and started suffering from insomnia. I also felt guilty for feeling so bad – a lot of people were in even worse positions than I was.”
Having come across our Job Ready pack via Google, Holly started to find what she needed to enhance her job search. However, at first, she wasn’t sure how helpful the Job Ready pack would be.
“At first, I was quite cynical – I’ve had careers advice in the past which hasn’t been that helpful, so I suppose I expected this to be the same. I was so desperate though I thought it was worth a try and was glad I did.
“At first, I felt a bit frustrated because I’d spent a long time on my CV and the feedback meant having to make a lot of changes! But when I went through it I realised that actually, the feedback was really helpful, and I even remembered some information I’d left out that was important for the types of jobs I was applying for!
“After I’d made the changes, I started to get some more positive responses and managed to get two interviews followed by a third one. The third company I interviewed at offered me a job. This definitely helped me to feel more positive, and I started to look forward to doing something productive with my time!”
A New Start
“I’m now Commercial Manager at The Cartoon Museum. I feel unbelievably lucky that I managed to gain employment in such a role (which was newly created) and at an organisation that still relates to my previous employment and studies. (And I’d been keen to have that title for a while!)
“I think I’m still adjusting to all of the changes that this pandemic has thrown up, so I also feel grateful that everyone on the team has been so friendly and welcoming. It can’t have been easy for them having someone new arrive as the person who held the previous, similar role actually passed away from COVID only a few months before. I suppose the best way to honour her memory is to try and make a success of the job.
“It’s a challenge in these times, so everyone – come and visit The Cartoon Museum: I’ve just made some really nice Ralph Steadman merchandise!”