We held our Careers in Film, TV and Radio Alumni Panel where Royal Holloway graduates working in the media industry shared with students what they’ve been up to since graduation and gave advice on how to forge out a career in this dynamic sector.
Here’s some of their advice they gave to help you make an impact and break into the industry:
Be open. Be flexible
“There is no one path – there are many diverse paths.”
“Your first job is very rarely the only job you will do so don’t see taking a job role that isn’t exactly what you’d hoped for as settling for less. Once you’re in an organisation, there’s huge potential to move around as you have access to internal vacancies.”
“Most people who go into media do not have a Media Arts degree. Your knowledge of languages matters for example, when the team need a document translated immediately. Your science background is useful when covering a breaking pharmaceutical news story.”
“Be flexible – your career pathway will not be linear. There’s a way to get to where you want to be but it may not be as straightforward as you’d like it to be. It’s very unusual to step straight into your dream role.”
Become a storyteller
“First and foremost, be a journalist. It’s all about the story.”
“When pitching [for filming and tv projects], you have to have a story and idea. Be prepared to adapt your concept to what the focus of the project or channel you’re pitching to.”
“Whatever your background, you are essentially an author (if working in TV, Radio or journalism) so do consider getting a journalism qualification alongside your professional work such as the National Council for Training of Journalists Certificate NCTJ.”
“Producers are the eyes and ears of a camera man. They are journalists as they have to take editorial and journalistic guidelines such as accuracy and due impartiality into consideration.”
Make the most of student life and resources you have at university
“Make your extra-curricular activities and involvement in student life your work experience. You have the space, a community and willing participants. You will never have access to high-tech equipment for free again. You have resources at your disposal. Use them.”
“Practice in your own time. Volunteer and learn how to turn an image into a story. Show graduate employers that you have initiative and drive and show them, ‘This is what I choose to do in my spare time’.”
Know that your skills matter
“You need to start building your work experience now.”
“This industry is so varied that it really helps if you can do a bit of everything; directing, producing and editing and are able to use different software and programmes. Also, it helps when you are self-funding or pitching projects if you can rely on yourself and not have to outsource as much.”
“Every job has admin so don’t discount work experience or part-time jobs that are admin heavy. Projects require planning and spreadsheets, financial and budgeting know-how. The skills you acquire along the way contribute to the package you bring to the table. Showcase your full skill set and add these skills to your CV.”
“No medium stands alone nowadays. Radio for example, is now available digitally, on live stream and shared via updates and clips on social media. If you’ve worked with as many of these channels as possible you have a lot to offer an employer."
"Skill up whenever possible and be the person who can step up and help out. The more you’re able to do, the more useful you are and the more indispensable you become.”
Be passionate about your future career
“You need to really want to do this and be hungry for it. It’s a tough industry with long, unsociable hours, but there’s nothing like the buzz and sense of team work that comes with breaking news.”
“You have to be dedicated and prepared to work your way up in an organisation. Be available, offer to help, volunteer and your hard work will pay off!”
Network, network, network!
“Build your contacts and network now. Persevere and send lots of emails. Someone will eventually say yes!”
“It’s important to network but you can do it in your own way. It’s not about the person who shouts the loudest. There are ways to hustle. Be quietly confident.”
“Your contacts matter. Reach out and ask for opportunities to gain more experience."
"Never underestimate the potential work experience can offer you. A short internship can lead to huge opportunities.”