Media is among the most competitive industries. In TV, film or radio you could work in broadcasting or as a programme maker. You could be a broadcast, newspaper or magazine journalist or go on to be an editor. Maybe you’d like to develop computer games, interactive TV or web content. You could also work in Public Relations.
You could take a degree or postgraduate course in journalism/broadcast journalism before you look for work as a journalist (‘pre-entry’), or join a training scheme with local TV, radio or newspapers (‘direct entry’), for which a relevant degree may also be an advantage. For direct entry, apply to editors of local and regional newspapers to be taken on as a trainee. You will need five GCSEs (A-C), including English, and two A levels or equivalent. To work in magazines, you can also take degree courses in publishing. Many employers in PR will expect you to have a degree, ideally in a relevant subject..
Volunteer for community, hospital/student radio, TV or papers. Make a brief 'showreel' CD or DVD with examples of your work. You can contact editors with ideas for articles or reviews, submit articles to websites or keep an online journal/ blog and keep copies of published work to show to potential employers. You can also contact companies to request unpaid work experience.
Could be long and may involve unsocial hours and overtime to attend events and meet deadlines. Journalism or film/TV work can involve national or international travel, often at short notice.
Journalist training schemes’ salaries are around £15,000 - £18,000. Starting salaries in PR can be around £16,000 - £20,000, rising to £20,000 - £40,000 with experience and higher at senior level. Experienced journalists typically earn £25,000 - £40,000. TV and film directors and producers are usually paid a fee for each individual contract or project. Rates can be based on budget and track record or an agreement of shared profit.
Some jobs are advertised in the national or trade press, industry recruitment websites and employers' own websites but networking often helps. As a director or producer, you might develop your own projects and raise funds to put them into production. You could also start as a TV runner or production assistant, and work your way up.
Graduate profile: Nicola Hendy from ITV
1. What subject(s) did you graduate in and from where?
I studied Politics at the University of Plymouth and then went on to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at Cardiff University.
2. What is your current job role? Please provide a brief description of your duties
I work as a reporter for ITV Wales News based in Cardiff. My job involves researching, planning, filming, editing and presenting packages for the 6 o clock news.
3. What skills, knowledge and qualities does your job require?
I’m trained as a video journalist and also on editing software, which enables me to be involved in an item from conception through to completion. As well as technical skills you need to be able to write concisely and under pressure, have good communication skills and I would say a genuine interest in people.
4. What are the benefits of the degree/qualification(s) you studied for?
I initially did my politics degree as a stepping stone for the Postgrad, picking a subject I was interested in. It proved a great asset as my first staff job was on a political programme as a researcher / reporter. Politics has a big role to play in the stories that you will cover within a regional / national newsroom and as such I would thoroughly recommend getting up to speed with the politics of the area. My Postgrad was a different ball game and was effectively on the job training. It taught me writing skills, gave me a legal grounding and also helped me get my head around the technology. I can’t recommend a course like this enough; although not essential to get into the industry, getting a foot in the door would be much harder without.
5. Are there any additional activities / work experiences that helped you?
Anything and everything! As most people in the industry will tell you, getting out there is the most important thing! I started off presenting a programme on a local community radio station and then volunteered one day a week at BBC Radio Devon. Doing things like this will give you the experience you need and build up your confidence as well as pushing you towards your first paid job in the industry.
6. Is there any other advice you would give to someone interested in working in a similar field?
On a personal level I’m glad I went for a degree other than Media Studies. Because it’s such a popular topic to study I felt I was better off doing something I was interested in, followed by the Postgrad. I felt it gave me an extra string to my bow and an area to really get stuck into in the future.
7. How did you find your current job and what was the application process like?
My current job was advertised in newspapers and online and I spotted it whilst working on a current affairs programme called Wales this Week. For me this meant moving from one area of the building to another, but into a very different working environment. I applied online and managed to get an interview, and although a daunting process, it was one that was well worth it!
8. What do you think are the main keys to success in your field?
The main keys to success are your own passion and determination. Persevere, persevere, persevere!
9. What are your future career options?
I think in the media your career is what you make it. There are many routes people take, none of which is right or wrong. So many things are right person right time and there are always opportunities out there.
10. How has being lesbian, gay or bisexual impacted on your career, if at all?
Being gay is entirely irrelevant to my career. Chances are you won’t be the only one and if you are, you won’t be the only one with an interesting ‘out of work’ life! The only advice I have is to book pride weekend off early!
11. How important was it that your university provided specific services/advice for you as an LGB student?
Both Plymouth and Cardiff University had an active LGBT society. Although I didn’t get heavily involved with either, I think they’re an important part of the University culture.