“Create yourself an online presence! It’s cheap to buy yourself a domain and set yourself up with a personal website/portfolio. If an employer can look in one place for everything about you, your work and your contact details they won’t have to spend time looking at your CV……”
The end of my third year in Media Production came around so quickly, and before I knew it I needed to start looking for work whilst juggling course deadlines. My approach was to try to secure a job before relocating, rather than taking the leap to move and then look for work. I didn’t realise I would be so lucky to be offered the first media related job I applied for, which also just so happened to be in Lincoln. So I stayed local and I’m still here now, working as a Video Producer for the NHS and occasionally undertaking some freelance work.
I realised how lucky I was to get a job so soon after University when I found myself 6 months into the job and lots of my friends were still unemployed or working part-time in supermarkets and coffee shops to be able to pay the rent! The NHS doesn’t sound the kind of organisation you would expect a Media Production graduate to find a job within, but it turned out they were looking for a Video Producer through something called a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
Before applying for the job, I was unsure of what a KTP was and applied for the job based mainly on the production aspect as well as the location and salary. After some research I realised that a KTP was a part government funded scheme which allows companies and universities to collaborate. The aims of it are to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology from a University into an organisation, through the skills of a recently qualified graduate, which was me. The benefits of a KTP are fantastic for the University, organisation and associate. However, the stand out benefit for me was that I would be allowed to spend 10% of my time on personal development, as well as receiving the budget to expand my skills. During my 18 month KTP I was offered the opportunity to undertake a Masters degree, I completed a Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership, became a certified Apple Final Cut Pro editor and undertook other Apple and Adobe post-production courses to up-skill. All of this, whilst I was working and being paid!
My role within Lincolnshire NHS is extremely varied but focuses mostly on training and education. I have produced content for over 2000 members of staff as well as patients and the public; from training videos, event filming, podcast creation, eLearning packages, promotional and awareness videos through to key staff communications and animation. The role suits me perfectly because when I left University I was unsure whether to specialise in one aspect of production, and which aspect that would be, so to be in a role where I can still generate ideas, plan, shoot and edit all of my own content is fantastic!
The KTP was a fixed term 18 month contract with the NHS and has taught me a great deal. The most important lesson was to understand what is expected of you in the working world and how different that environment is compared to a student one. I have enhanced my skills hugely in more general areas such as managing budgets, allocating resources to numerous projects, liaising with a wide variety of clients as well as managing my own time.
My KTP with the NHS came to an end in December 2011 and I am pleased to say that they decided to renew my contract with them directly, as a permanent Video Producer for Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust. The audio-visual content I am creating is still as varied as it was during the KTP but I am now also working to implement a number of new developments into the organisation such as Live Video Streaming and an online corporate TV channel for staff. I am still working very closely with the School of Media and work experience opportunities are continually being provided for all levels of Media Production students, so look out for them!
As well as my role at the NHS, I am lucky enough to have the freedom and flexibility to undertake certain freelance work in my spare time. I have recently worked as a runner for Objective Scotland on their Channel 4 daytime show ‘The Secret Removers’ and also for RDF Television working on Dickinson’s Real Deal for ITV. I also work as a video producer and editor for corporate jobs, mainly for local businesses.
My advice to current students would be:
Apply for everything! The worst that can happen is the employer says no! (within reason – obviously do not apply to be a series producer for broadcast coming straight out of University, you will just annoy employers)
Keep your CV up to date! Make sure it’s not too long, and create numerous CVs dependant on the positions you apply for. For example, I have a CV for Video Producer, Camera Operator, Editor and Runner.
Create yourself an online presence! It’s cheap to buy yourself a domain and set yourself up with a personal website/portfolio. If an employer can look in one place for everything about you, your work and your contact details they won’t have to spend time looking at your CV, then your Vimeo channel, then to your Linked In. It also gives you a sense of professionalism! Also, sign up to sites like YouTube and Vimeo to show off your work and create a free portfolio for yourself!
Be social online! A lot of employers will go straight from your CV directly to your Twitter and Facebook account to find out about you. Keeping your personality on Twitter and Facebook is important, but keep a level of professionalism online. Would you think an employer would prefer to see your latest opinion on new technology or pictures of you wasted at the weekend?
Don’t get sucked in! It obviously depends on what sort of work you are looking for but don’t get sucked in to thinking that you will only succeed if you move to London! I was ready to move when I left University only to realise that the perfect graduate job for me was on my doorstep, there are loads of production companies and organisations looking for your skills outside of London!
Keep searching! Regularly checking sites such as The Unit List, Production Base, Film Crew Pro, Mandy.com and Grapevine Jobs is key as jobs do not stay online long! The majority of sites like this post jobs on Twitter too, so keep a look out on their!
Network! Always have business cards to hand, network lots and hand them out to everyone new you meet! Also make sure you stay connected with the people from your course as you never know when they may need someone on a job, and the people you meet through that one lucky break could be enough!
Keep Learning! University doesn’t mean the end of education; take every opportunity you can to learn new skills, techniques and equipment. In today’s climate it’s often a positive for employers if you are multi skilled!