“You have to go after what you want because no one has your best interests like you do.”

Feeling overwhelmed with studio demands? In this week’s Creative Career Conundrums, Katie Cadwell gives tips to set clear goals, protect your time, and actively pursue the work that fulfils you.

20 May 2024

Creative Career Conundrums is a weekly advice column from If You Could Jobs. Each week their selected panel of professionals from the creative industry answers your burning career questions to help you navigate the creative journey.

This week’s question:

I’ve worked for the same small studio since graduation. I love branding and book design, but a lot of the work I am assigned to is doing motion for other people’s projects, which might be because I’m the only one in the team who does it. Since I’m very organised, I’m also asked to plan our socials, conduct interviews, review portfolios and create pitch documents. I don’t want to be unwilling to get stuck in to these tasks, because as a small studio someone has to do them, but they really take my time away from the projects I want to work on and build in my portfolio. How do I make sure that my boss values me for the skills that I actually want to use, rather than giving me other tasks which I’m good at but the majority of the time I don’t enjoy and are not really my role?

Katie Cadwell, co-founder of branding studio Lucky Dip and The NDA Podcast:

It’s a great question, and something I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Studio admin tends to fall on one person, and before you know it, you’re the linchpin of the day-to-day operations. But the compromise can pull you further and further away from doing the work you love.

“Your boss already knows your skillset, so don’t waste time trying to prove that you can do it.”

Katie Cadwell

To put it very bluntly, you need to tell your team you feel this way. Otherwise it will build into resentment. So, it’s best to get ahead of it. There are a few things I can suggest:

  1. In your next 1-2-1 with your manager, say you want to spend more time on project work. Set some goals that are going to keep you both accountable (eg. I want to have worked on three brand concept presentations by my next review). If it comes round to that review and you haven’t reached that goal, you’ll have some leverage for a stronger conversation.
  2. Question if it’s possible to protect your time. It sounds like you’re happy to do these tasks, but can they be limited to two days a week? That way you can dedicate the rest of your time to project work.
  3. Put your hand up. If you see people headed into a briefing, ask if you can join. If there’s a project in the studio you want in on, just say so. That old ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ couldn’t be truer than it is in this industry. You have to go after what you want because no one has your best interests like you do.

Your boss already knows your skillset, so don’t waste time trying to prove that you can do it. Instead you need to remind them what you love about your job, and the type of work that fulfils you. It sounds like you’re an incredible asset to the team, so any good manager will hear you and make the changes needed to keep you.

In answering your creative career conundrums we realise that some issues need expert support, so we’ve collated a list of additional resources that can support you across things that might arise at work.

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About the Author

Katie Cadwell

Katie Cadwell is co-founder of branding studio, Lucky Dip. She has spent over a decade working with the world's best agencies and nicest clients. A vocal advocate for the creative industry, she founded The NDA Podcast to shed light on some of the biggest secrets in our studios. Through conversations with creative leaders & legends, Katie interrogates the industry’s flaws – hoping to make it a healthier, happier, more accessible place to work.

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