The following is the first in a new '#discovermedia' series of interviews where I'll be exploring media topics and work with people in or based around the media industry, the aim of these conversations to give more information and insight to those who want to 'get in' in the future, or learn more!
Andrew “Hello and thankyou for being the first person to get involved with this exciting new project I’m launching! Hopefully both your interview, and the information from others in the future will be extremely helpful to anyone looking to pursue a career in the Media industry.
To start off, I’d like to ask what you are currently doing or working on?”
R “I’m in my first job (6 week contract) as a PMA (Production Management Assistant) at the moment, which I got from expressing an interest in radio and through experience organizing a conference. Every bit of experience can be useful, so take every opportunity you have at Uni to get involved with stuff and organize stuff. For the PTP it doesn’t have to be specifically media, as long as you can explain why it is relevant and show how the skills you picked up were transferable.”
A “You mentioned the ‘PTP’ there, for those who are unsure what that is it means the ‘Production Talent Pool’, and is one of the entry schemes that the BBC runs, of which you’re currently on for the 2014/15 year…?”
A “Now that you’re part of the PTP (that’s what we’re mainly going to talk about, as we’re both Talent Poolers this year, and it’s an easy entry topic!), what do you feel is the most important information you needed to know or do whilst applying for the scheme; at the assessment centres throughout the application process, and even afterwards or now for instance?”
R “I’d really recommend making an effort to get to one of the BBC’s ‘get-in’ events if that is convenient for you and within your budget. Also definitely listen to the College of Production podcasts; there are loads of relevant ones and ones with interviews with former trainees (mainly people from the PTS, Production Talent Scheme, rather than PTP but still good). They will give you most of the tips you would get from the get-in events.
The most important information…
There is practical stuff you can do in preparation for your application and assessment day, such as telling a story in your application. As above, always PREPARE for your assessment day (look at Simon Wright’s blog and work out the story you want to tell about yourself). When talking or in an interview, always bring answers back to the job/working at the bbc – so don’t just go on about how great your project was, link it back to the key skills you need to work in production (ie ‘I worked part-time throughout Uni in a café, which means that I am really good at juggling different demands on my time’ or ‘I set up a blog, which means I have learnt how to appeal to an audience, rather than just to write for myself’ or something more convincing than that…)
A “That’s all excellent information. I went to a Get In day myself in Birmingham back in February 2014 and it was the most helpful thing, along with Simon’s blog, to learn more about the internal workings of the company and the different schemes, to just discover where I want to go in the future. I love your idea about relating anecdotes back to the question and job, it’s simple but something people really overlook!”
R “There’s other good information, such as don’t assume they’re looking for a particular kind of person for the job, as they’re not. Be friendly, be friendly, be friendly. Don’t be inappropriate on twitter and slag off BBC trainees.”
A “I’d really back that up about social media. I’ve got a first class degree now, but at the end of my 2nd year I faced… problems, because of a few seemingly innocent things I’d said. You may say it in jest, but the general public or the company won’t take it that way. I’m not saying restrict yourself on posting online or social media; just be careful of your online presence, what you’re posting and who can see it. Remember your privacy settings, and just be the best person you can be (well that’s the same for life as online) but even though there’s a keyboard in your hand, there’s no need to rant off on a crusade”
R “I'd also say, don't give up. I applied for the PTS and messed up the assessment day, built up my CV and skills, applied again and got into the PTP. Someone I spoke to applied 3 times before getting in, so it just takes a bit of patience. Equally, look for good volunteering opportunities in your area (like community radio or youth film making charities) - it is good to build up skills without having to work for free, which is unsustainable and should be discouraged in the media in general. Also I really don’t think PTP is the be all and end all, and it takes effort once you’re in to get jobs – which as Don Kong (head of the PTP) said, prepares you for a career in the media!”
A “ I'd also like to ask what YOU wanted to know about the BBC and the PTP Scheme before you applied. What sort of information do you feel is essential now? Everyone always has questions, and most probably they’re all the same ones, so lets see if we can tick off a few people’s boxes”
R “ For years I felt like the BBC wasn’t for me and that I couldn’t possibly get a job there or belong in that world. Both my parents are professionals (ie civil servants, health care) so I was quite intimidated by the world of tv/radio. I would say, don’t feel like this, and I think the BBC is changing and really trying to open up. It can still feel quite formidable but things like the PTP are great. I think a lot of the most exciting radio and TV is made by independent production companies but in terms of skills and training, to me, the BBC seems like the obvious place to start – and I think it does act as a sort of training place for people in that way.
In terms of essential info now: don’t expect to get a job immediately in the PTP – work on your CV, think about how best to build up contacts, take advice from Don and external places such as RTS Futures or Simon Wright’s blog. Do your research first, and don’t be afraid to ask other people ‘in the know’ lots of questions, as they were in your position once.”
A “Thanks for the chat fellow PTP'er! Your advice has been invaluable and I hope we’ve helped some keen people out there looking to learn more about the media industry or get into it!
If you have media experiences, knowledge, hints and tips that you would like to share, then drop an email to AndrewHDaley@gmail.com. If you fancy a chat, or would like to help other's #discovermedia and get into the industry, don't hesitate to get in touch!