THIS TIME last year I was set to embark upon the biggest obstacle of my young adult life, the daunting butexciting prospect of trying to start a career in a already overflowing industry with thousands of competitors jostling just to ‘get in’. Yet I’m proof that it can be done, and all it takes is a little self belief and application.
Back in October 2009, only a few diligent months after finishing my course at Coventry University, I was fortunate enough to have been offered a role within the Uk’s number one sporting channel, Sky Sports News. This was a dream environment for me to work, as a large amount of student life was lost watching this potentially degree destroying channel.
I was later informed by my boss that over 250 applicants had applied for my Ingest Operator role, a junior position which means I am responsible for live and tape feeds being recorded onto a server which can then be played out on air, usually as soon as possible meaning communication with producers, editors and reporters is an essential part of the job. Just a small, but indispensible cog of the machine that is TV News.
My advice for those looking to get in any form of media, whether that be broadcast or print is that enthusiasm is king! Visitor’s, who would visit the University’s brilliant Coventry Conversation series, would always beat the drum about “if you want it bad enough, you’ll get it”. That statement could not be any truer, there’s something slightly irritating and depressing about a media student wallowing in self pity that they can’t get a foot on the ladder.
With the ever increasing platforms of new media creating so many more opportunities for entrepreneurial students, there are so many new ways to build a unique portfolio to woo potential suitors.
My journey started by charming the producer of a local radio station to give me some work experience. This was a long haul placement which turned into a paid part time job which lasted from June until I got the Sports News job in October, this gave me valuable basic editing and production experience. Being multi-skilled is vital in today’s newsroom, there are far too many people who you’ll be competing with that will be skilled and have more experience in more than one area, so don’t give them a reason to choose them over you.
I also started writing for start-up business, a Non League Football website which gave me a niche to build a portfolio editorially, on a bigger scale. This worked, as I soon found my work on the BBC local sport web pages, including BBC London, Stoke & Staffordshire and Beds, Hearts and Bucks.
I also took it upon myself to take a voluntary position as a Press Secretary for a Non League Football club, Corinthian-Casuals. This gave me real life match reporting experience, which also got my name in both national and local newspapers.
Finding a niche is an excellent way of standing out from the crowd, and can give you an expertise others may find useful in their companies or websites.
Copying writing is also a great way to tone your creative writing. I gained a paying client to write for a business’ website (ironically) explaining that you don’t need to go to University to have a successful career.
As a Journalism or Media student, not having a blog to hone your writing skills is unforgivable, whilst not using applications such as Twitter and Audio Boo for example, to promote your work, is also a missed opportunity.
I love working for Sky Sports News, it’s a fantastic place for someone with as little experience in the media world as me to start their career. (In fact, I believe I may be the youngest in the building!) It is also fascinating discovering where my colleagues have worked and how they’ve found themselves here. There is scope to do anything within the company and move in whatever direction you wish to explore, whether that be production, producing, reporting to a role within the gallery.
Even a few weeks ago I ‘Tweeted’ Julian March, the producer of SkyNews.com, (who I had been following via Twitter) asking if there was any way I could get involved in any manner on Election Night, he responded within minutes by emailing me internally and putting me in contact with the Home Desk producer who put me through to the Development manager Rob Kirk- resulting with me working as part of the Sky 100 team on election night, collecting the results from the key 100 marginals and getting them on air and on screen as soon as possible.
Getting your fingers in as many pies as possible (as I was doing before I found employment, as well as now) is vital. Enthusiasm is underrated; you can be brilliant at something in this industry but if you don’t put in the effort, there are hundreds of other people who would do that job in an instant…and probably for half the money!
You can follow Greg on Twitter @GregKeane1 or send him an email on email@example.com