If you missed our talk on Wednesday 3rd February, we have distilled the best points from our panel on getting ahead in your career in Media and Television. Participating in our panel were five highly-qualified individuals with experience ranging across the entire industry spectrum. Their insights, and how they can help your applications, can be found below:

Dan Lawson is the Partnership Manager at Creative Skillset, and you can find more about him here. Dan told us:

  • The ability to manage is a vital skill that all industries look for. Dan has helped delivered major projects, including Film Nation: Shorts, the UK’s official young people’s filmmaking competition of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Evidence your own experience with societies, within your studies and beyond in your applications.
  • Dan also advises creative content funds on particular investments. The ability to clearly pitch your idea, over email or over a presentation, is crucial to securing opportunities within the industry. Practice your pitches and know your content inside-out.

Catherine Elliott-Kemp works as the Creative Director for Isis Media, and her biography mentions some of the award-winning, top-tier work she has been involved in. Her advice was:

  • Tailor your emails, don’t send out bulk spam which can be easily disregarded. A majority of applications in all fields can fall into this quality-quantity trap out of seeming desperation. Don’t get caught – quality applications nearly always beat their poorer competition.
  • Don’t take rejection too earnestly, it’s a hyper competitive industry and persistence can lead to a break.
  • Think “Why TV? Why [A specific] TV show?” Be commercially aware of the context of your application, and consider both the current work your chosen content-creator is undertaking, but also where they are aiming to be. Explain your thought-processes surrounding your interest in particular programming
  • Don’t babble and don’t break trust. Get straight to your point, and deliver when you say you will. Time management is crucial in the industry at all stages and clarity is critical to success.

Sam Willet is a Producer and Client Manager with Ember Television.  Sam’s comments were:

  • Content marketing is designed to promote, educate and inform for a huge rage of clients, with Ember Television specialising in thought-leadership. Sam tries to tell a story or sell a message. Hold an understanding of what your chosen company does, and how your own experiences interact with it. 
  • Possessing video production experience is extremely useful. If you possess this skill-set, emphasise it, and showcase your experiences so far. If you don’t, consider learning and experimenting.
  • Self-starters and curious characters are the best kind of people. Take the initiative, create your own content and opportunities and you will place yourself ahead in a crowded field. Emphasise this kind of information in your applications or emails where possible, even possibly attaching with a portfolio of your latest or best work.

Sarah Joyce is currently on the University of Birmingham’s Cultural Intern Scheme at BBC Birmingham. She joined the BBC in October 2014 after completing her MA Film and Television: Research and Production at Birmingham. She is currently working in the BBC’s External Partnerships department but has worked on everything from the BBC Music Awards to organising BBC Birmingham’s first public open day. Sarah had a few tips for the aspiring audience:

  • Social media, as mentioned elsewhere, is a critical skill to have in your arsenal. Be familiar with as many platforms as possible, and understand how your chosen organisation utilises their channels to best effect.
  • Runner jobs are a fantastic way in. Sometimes the work can be mundane, but this entry-level position is a brilliant way to generate face-time with senior employees at an organisation and puts your foot in the door of an outstandingly hard-to-crack industry. Seek these positions out online where possible, as they go quickly. Make sure they put your face to a name if you do secure one of these roles.
  • The format for many email addresses for employers is “first name/surname”@ (for example) channel4.com. Search around online, or on LinkedIn, and you’ll be amazed.
  • Have your own programme ideas – people are always on the look at for the best new ideas, no matter which level it is generated at.

Raj Bilkhu works as a Broadcast Journalist and Assistant Producer for BBC Radio. She has worked extensively across her field, and her blog is well-worth a read!

  • Call over and over. Constantly try and reach out to those in your dream field, and persistence will pay dividends! Raj explained how when applying for a MA course, even though she was put on the waiting list, her consistent calls to her institution made sure she was at the front of the queue when the time came.
  • Think about the multi-channel format of today’s industry. It is essential to be strong in your television or media-specific format, but also have an awareness of other platforms: online streaming, social media and other evolving platforms are of extreme interest to today’s content creators, and it is vital you have a strong grasp on them all.
  • Be prepared to do some freelance work. It can be risky, but it can open doors to more stable employment later on.
  • Be inspired. Media and television have the ability to commission the best ideas, and that could be yours one day.
  • The BBC loves online experience – everything nowadays needs to be communicated on a wide variety of platforms. If you have, for instance, any Photoshop, filming or vlogging/blogging experience, mention it. Leading with examples of your work here will allow you to shine.

The evening was extremely useful for all those who attended, who also had the chance to participate in a Q&A session, and network with the panel afterwards. Make sure you follow CALCareers on Facebook, Twitter and email in order to ensure you don’t miss out on our great opportunities in the future!

-Written by Chris Walker, SET member and Law student at The University of Birmingham