How many people do you know who are being paid to do exactly what they studied at Uni? And who wants a repetitive, boring old 9 to 5 job anyway!?
I have no shame in saying outright that I was one of the lucky ones. When I was doing my degree in Media Production we were told in no uncertain terms that jobs in the media are few and far between and that the amount of media graduates far outweighs the amount of media jobs- especially those home bunnies not wanting to make the big move down to London (AKA – Me!)
Because of this I spent the last 5 months of my final year (Jan onwards) signing up to job mailing lists, scouring the internet and applying for any job that seemed remotely relevant – sounds a ball ache while you’ve got all your final projects, dissertation, etc. going on but it’s SO worth it. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t taken the time to do this I wouldn’t be doing what I am now.
Don’t get me wrong – I worked my absolute socks off at uni. and was utterly determined to get a First as I knew that experience is nothing without the grades to back them up, just as much as the theory and grades are nothing without proof of practical experience.
Then, (here comes the lucky part,) the perfect job landed in my inbox from the Lincoln Uni. mailing list. Everything it asked for was exactly what I had been learning; the same cameras, editing software, everything. So in early May I wrote myself a new CV, a SHORT covering letter, edited together a showreel and sent it all off. A week later, I got invited to an interview and a week after that (and two days after handing in my last piece of work!) I had the job!
Of course, after being there a few months, my bosses told me I had pretty much won the job on my showreel and CV alone. Because a lot of Uni work is done as part of a group, and I hadn’t wanted to miss-sell myself, I edited my showreel into categories – camera work, directing, producing, editing, graphics, etc. – and made sure that it was the short, snappy ‘best bits’ edited nicely to a catchy soundtrack.
It had a DVD menu and chapter markers to make it easy to navigate and, despite not advertising graphics in the job description, I decided to put it in anyway to show them what I could do and that turned out to be a huge bonus for them. My boss also said how he liked that I’d put a reference on the back of my CV. It meant that they already had a good idea of how I was perceived by my tutors; it was only my UKAS application reference but it was a good one, so I thought, what the hell, make the most of it!
The other thing that stood out to my bosses was presentation – everything was well organised, neat and well presented. And before the interview – I took the time to look at the company and get a feel for what they were like – neat, formal and professional. So no, grungy rock videos and grim ‘murder’ scenes in showreels do not go down well with professional corporate film companies!
Five years on, I have gone from Assistant Producer, to Producer to Senior Producer, Head of Graphics and Environmental Officer (don’t ask me how the last one happened… but being flexible is crucial!) One day I’m working on a complex animated sequence, the next I’m writing a script, and the next I’m out filming in a Dutch substation or on a North Highlands Golf Course.
Multi-skilling is absolutely vital nowadays… I’m pretty certain you will find it much harder to get a job if you’re only good at one thing… but by all means stay true to what you’re best at. There’s nothing worse than someone who desperately tries to do everything and who actually ends up achieving nothing.
And finally, no, it’s not Hollywood, it’s not glamorous and it certainly isn’t easy. If you’re fiercely artistic, then Corporate probably isn’t the best environment for you. Clients may sometimes give you the freedom to get creative but, at the end of the day they’re paying the bill and what they want, they get.
There’s also nothing glamorous about filming in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment!) on a muddy, drizzly construction site and, yes, it’s exhausting – there are many weeks when I have no idea what sunshine looks like – 9 to 5 jobs in the creative media industry DO NOT EXIST!! But, at the end of the day how many people do you know who are being paid to do exactly what they studied at Uni? And who wants a repetitive, boring old 9 to 5 job anyway!?
Tracey Marsh – Senior Producer at Broadcast Media Services in Nottingham, Graduated in 2006 with First Class Honours in BA Media Production
Won Sony Broadcast & Professional Prize for Best Television Studio Graduate, Media & Humanities Faculty Prize for Best Dissertation and Nominated for RTA Student Award for Best Drama.