A few weeks ago my friend Lucy asked me to speak to some young bright things about getting into media. Lucy is the founder of YH World - a social enterprise which aims to help people build a career in media. As I had taken the unconventional route, she thought I might be able to offer some tips. So I reflected on the route I had taken into writing and broadcast production, trying to pick out some key points that had helped and hindered me on the way, then spoke to a group of 6 talented and energetic young media stars. I tried to summarise it into a few bullet points.
I realised that it helped me, too, by reminding me of the key actions that have helped me so far, and giving me a blueprint of the most effective things I can be doing on a daily basis to keep driving me forwards.
- Create – Start producing content in the field you want to work in. So, if you want to work in television, start using your iPhone to shoot stuff, and edit on iMovie. Do it about something you are passionate about. Get creative. In doing so, you build up a portfolio and learn skills. But you also create your own opportunities. Don’t wait for people to offer you work. Create work for yourself. Suggest ideas and just start making content – Jamal Edwards, who founded SBTV, started by filming foxes in his garden.
- Set Up A Blog – Create a blog to document your progression and your portfolio. It helps you to reflect, document your development and you will learn essential digital skills
- Network – Go to every possible event in the industry you want to work in. In television, Channel 4 do lots of free workshops and networking events. Use Twitter to contact people who you admire or want to work with. Use Facebook to show your friends what you have done. When you meet people in person, be polite, ask them what they do and explain what you do. Follow up a few days later by email. Keep a Word document of all the people you have met, what they do and their contact details.
- Prioritise – You have limited resources in time, energy and money. Decide how you want to invest them: is it better to go to the all-night rave and be a zombie the next day, or to get an early night and prepare for an interview with a local market trader? You will have to make compromises, but think how much time people put in for other professions, such as Law or Medicine.
- Training – Constantly improve your skills through free and paid training. Practice is essential, but between YouTube and online guides, you can find out how to do almost anything to a basic standard within minutes. Seek out further training and courses in the area that you wish to specialise in. For Television, DV Talent are a great starting point.
Get out there and create chances for yourself – you never know where they might lead to. For me, doing the mentoring with YH World led to one of the best gifts I have ever received – a ticket to the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Naturally, I used it as a chance to create some new content! So have a look at the video below.