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Junior: Australia’s New Blood


Co-founder Ed Howley on setting up a union for young creatives

Junior: Australia’s New Blood

The creative industries can be notoriously difficult to get into – and once you’ve got that foot in the door, where do you go next? Fresh from university, Ed Howley did manage to bag himself a job, but found himself with a sea of questions and a number of mentors too busy to answer them. In 2008, he set up Junior, a union for young creatives. LBB’s Laura Swinton spoke to Ed Howley to find out what pushed him to take that step further and make a difference. 

LBB> When did Junior start and what motivated you to start it? Who else is involved in Junior?

EH> I just had to go back through the site to find our first post – October 27,2008! It's kind of funny to read it now. Now back to your question. We started Junior because we'd just graduated and had managed to land our first jobs. However we were left scratching our head as to what to do next and, while we had good mentors, no one at our day jobs had time to take us under their wing. There really didn't seem to be much out there for junior creatives so we simply decided to make something ourselves. Many beers later we had decided on a name and purchased 'lifeatthebottom' as the domain. We held an inaugural event at a tiny bar in Melbourne. It was mostly just our friends from university, but word soon spread. Today the Junior team consists of myself and Monica Clapcott (a photographic producer extraordinaire) with Stanley Johnson (The Monday Morning WHIP) and Esther Clerehan (Ask Esther) contributing every week. 

LBB> How has Junior evolved since it started? 

EH> Funnily enough I don't think it has evolved as such, just gained momentum. The great thing about Junior is the fact that there are constantly new people attracted to the creative industries that are discovering it for the first time. Our events have gotten bigger and we've dabbled in other cities like Auckland and Sydney. 

The biggest evolution probably happened just last week with a new website layout. In five years we've amassed a lot of great content but it was hidden deep in the guts of our 'blog'. Our new site, which was designed by Monica (I told you she was an extraordinaire!) will hopefully help people learn from all of the great interviews from the past.

LBB> What's a typical Junior meet-up like? How many people come along? What happens?

EH> The events are probably the most rewarding part of running Junior. First of all they're free, so anyone can come along. We have everyone from students to the occasional senior. People mingle and drink and then we have a guest speaker that gives their '10 tips in 10 minutes'. Did I mention beer?!

LBB> What's the landscape like at the moment for young people trying to get into the industry or trying to carve out a career for themselves in Australia? 

EH> Getting your first gig is never easy. It really is about being in the right place at the right time. But it feels like there are plenty of opportunities here for people to get their foot in the door. Lots of agencies have set up internship programs. Some are more formal than others but they are definitely out there. And with digital content becoming more and more prevalent, it feels like juniors can carve themselves a nice little spot in any agency.

LBB> Junior does a lot of work to share career advice  - with the 'Ask Esther' column and also speakers at the meet-ups. What are the most common questions/problems people raise with you?

EH>  Most want to know how to be more awesome. How to break into the industry. How to get a better job. How to not work on retail coupons and catalogues. Introducing Esther Clerehan and 'Ask Esther' to the mix has been a huge success for us. Most creative people are terrified of the tricky business of asking for pay rises, etc. Esther has become quite the advertising fairy godmother.

LBB> What has been the most interesting thing you've learned since starting up Junior?

EH> That no matter where they are today, everyone we've spoken to, even the über successful ones, all started at the bottom and all struggled in some way at the beginning. Just like us. 

LBB> In your day job, you're an art director - how have you found the experience of running Junior has impacted on your own career?

EH> The thing with Junior is that it came from a very real place. We were genuinely a bit lost and had questions we wanted answered. For us it was an opportunity to meet whoever we wanted to meet and pick their brains. It has been very inspiring. I think this helped accelerate us in our own careers, just as it does our readers. 

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LBB Editorial, Tue, 30 Apr 2013 16:22:51 GMT