Well, that’s it. Somehow three years (or roughly 1018 days) have just passed and University has officially finished with me. The past year has been the best of my life so far, and that is purely down to genuinely loving the course (even the dissertation) and meeting a cracking set of friends following the University trip to Latvia back in October.
As much as I don’t want to leave University life, I now feel completely ready to move on to whatever’s next. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on a lot of extra projects (paid and unpaid) during my three years in Lincoln and those are the things that have really given me the confidence that I have now. Whether you’re going into your first or second year, or even final year I can’t express enough how important it is to get that extra bit of experience. The course is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but there’s going to be a couple of hundred people graduate with the same degree as you in ONE year from that ONE course in Lincoln alone. It’s no secret that jobs are hard to come by in this industry but if you do something extra on the side that will set you apart from those hundreds of other people in the same position as you, it’ll really make a difference when you leave.
I guess I’m essentially using this blog post as some sort of therapy, having recently found out I was unsuccessful for a Producer role within a production company in Manchester. The job sounded perfect for me on just finishing my degree and I received fantastic feedback from my first and second interview and the tasks I had to complete as part of the application. Unfortunately I narrowly missed out on a job. It’s easy to get incredibly disheartened about it, and I did for a good hour or two, but in hindsight I now acknowledge that I was bloody lucky to even get an interview, especially considering the process actually started a couple of months ago before I’d even finished the course.
I always said throughout University that I never wanted to work for anyone else. I always wanted full creative control and as some people might know, I did set up a production company with Andy West for a while which went fantastically well and was incredibly exciting, but things sadly fizzled out as my attention turned to completing uni and preparing for this interview. The job would have provided me with the security I felt I needed post-university and that was the main benefit to actually going into employment but now I’m back to square one, I think I’m going to go against the ‘safe option’, take the risk and do the thing I’ve always wanted to do and start up my own production company. If it doesn’t work out, I’m quietly confident my lengthy list of experience will get me a job within the media industry if needs be.
I suppose I’d better wrap up this penultimate blog post (my next one will be as an official graduate!) with some advice …
1. Don’t just complete the course, do some work in your own time to further the skills you learn on the course. Test out freelancing, expand your portfolio or make the most of services like New Media Lincs!
2. Network as much as you can. You don’t have to necessarily go to official events (although they’re great for building confidence), just surround yourself with likeminded people whether that’s in a society or just going to The Shed with new people… either way talking about what you do will not only provide clarity for yourself in knowing what you want to do when you leave, but you could also end up making great work with these people in the future.
3. Make the most of opportunities offered to you from the University. I almost didn’t go on the Media Culture 2020 trip to Latvia last year because I was worried I didn’t know anybody enough… what a ridiculous thought. I met my closest friends and the people I’ll potentially be working with in the future on that trip, and now also have friends in the Netherlands which proved beneficial on my recent holiday to Amsterdam.
4. Make the most of the staff at Lincoln School of Media. It’s easy to forget a majority of them have actually worked in the industry (and some still do) and there’ll no doubt be a member of staff who has worked in the specific field that you want to get into. It’ll probably take a couple of years for you to see past the fact that they’re lecturers but as soon as you’re going along to the networking events, you’ll suddenly realise they’re human and find the confidence to talk to them and ask questions. (Free wine).
(And finally, the one piece of advice that you will only acknowledge when you’re in my exact position!)
5. Take it all in. Three years sounds like a huge amount of time when you first enrol in September but trust me, it’s not. I spent the first year of uni sulking because I didn’t get on with my flat mates and ultimately didn’t enjoy university that year, which is a huge shame because the course really was great and I missed out on not meeting and getting to know people I’ve only just got to know in my third year.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Rachel_Hagreen to see what I get up to and whether I take my own advice and start a production company…
… Huge good luck to everyone graduating this year and to those who’re still lucky enough to be in first and second year. Hopefully I’ll be back in Lincoln in several months time for networking (free wine) with an interesting story to tell…