June 30, 2017, by Carla Froggatt
5 Ways to Break into the Media Industry
By Olivia Maguire, third year student studying English
We’ve all been there, finding what seems to be the perfect grad job on Milkround – only to be confronted with the dreaded list of ‘preferred requirements’ for the role:
- A 2:1 or higher? I mean, that’s achievable
- Confident and determined? Totally!
- Ability to meet deadlines? I’ve practically mastered the art of all-nighters over the past 3 years
- At least 2 years of experience in the media industry? …Never mind then
But do not panic – a lack of experience doesn’t have to be your downfall!
Thanks to some wise words from the panel at this year’s Spotlight On… Media and Digital Production, I’ve comprised five fool proof tips to help you get one step ahead of the competition and break into the media industry.
1. Started from the bottom
Sounds obvious right? But one thing each speaker stressed more than anything is the importance of getting your face known. Start from the bottom and work your way up – intern for a couple of weeks or volunteer to be a runner churning out cups of tea. Lyn Champion, an MA Documentary Journalism programme leader at NTU, spoke of her days at BBC Radio 1. She once hired a young girl– Jo Whiley – having recognised her face from wandering around the offices offering brews.
2. Hotline Bling – sorry, I’ll stop with the Drake-related subtitles now
Topher Batchelor, a writer/producer at Fat Free Media, revealed that ‘hiding behind an email’ can be a big turn off for a potential employer. Instead, end your email with a polite request to follow up your enquiry with a phone call – after all, media is all about communication.
3. What’s the big idea?
Always be thinking about what you can give to the company. Maybe you’ve spotted a gap in the market? Dr Emma Hemmingway, an ex-producer for the BBC, refers to new ideas as ‘gold dust.’ If you can show initiative by bringing something original to the table, you’re sure to impress at interview.
4. Those ‘wasted’ hours trawling through Facebook may finally come in handy – hooray!
According to all four speakers, the biggest change in journalism and news broadcasting is how we consume it. Over recent years the move to digital platforms – including social media– has changed the relationship between audiences and the media. Consider this when applying. Your knowledge of trends on Facebook and Twitter are more useful than ever.
5. You already have the equipment, so get out there!
Charlie Slater, a sports reporter/weatherman for the BBC, reminded us that we all have smartphones – this new age of digital media is quite literally in our hands. He explained how getting out there and filming events, documenting news on social media and posting it to an audience is all worthwhile experience. Considering his latest Facebook live report gained an astounding 7.5 million views, I will certainly be taking his advice.
The media industry is fast paced, exciting and full of incredible opportunities, but it is also extremely competitive. It’s essential to show potential employers why you should be hired above everyone else – what makes you stand out is what makes you a desirable candidate.
Although experience isn’t everything, it’s a good idea to build a repertoire of blogs or videos. This will not only showcase your background in media and digital production, but also emphasise your passion for the industry. If you’ve only recently decided that this is the career path for you, or just haven’t gotten around to expanding your CV yet, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of time to build up your résumé and impress potential employers.