Media career misconceptions debunked
If you work in media then you’re probably going to feature in the gossip sections of national newspapers every week, right? Hmmm, probably not. You may think that a career in the media will mean you will be presenting the news, having your own radio show, or writing for Vogue. You may have heard that you need to have a perfectly crafted haircut, a distinctive regional accent and a personal stylist to work in the exciting world of celebrities and glossy magazines.
Sure, your career could take one of these routes, but it’s pretty unlikely really. Don’t worry though! It’s okay. You don’t have to be a star news anchor or ace DJ to secure a graduate job in this industry.
Before you make the decision to get into media, you should first discover what it’s really all about.
The reality of media careers
It might be a good idea to get the ball rolling by defining what the term ‘media’ actually means. Malcolm X famously once said that “the media is the most powerful entity on earth.” In many ways, he was right: from television, film and radio, to what we see on the internet, media is everywhere, and it can entertain as much as it can influence.
As you can probably imagine, working in the media is fast-paced and extremely competitive. If you can handle the pressures thrown at you, it can be a very exciting way to make a living. What’s more, there are literally thousands of different roles you can explore.
Employers in media look for a wide range of people with different technical and personal skills. Generally, you’re going to need to be confident, enthusiastic and have the ability to build relationships with a bunch of different chaps and chapettes. You’ve got to be super versatile and willing to go the extra mile to get projects finished. While you don’t necessarily need a degree for many of the roles in this industry, breaking into the world of media is getting tougher and tougher and many applicants are now graduates. Consequently, it may be worth getting a degree under your belt before applying for the most desirable roles.
Types of media career
If you see yourself as something of a TV guru, either behind or in front of the camera, television broadcasting could be an option. Now is a great time to get your foot on the ladder, as there are plenty of graduate openings becoming available.
You could get involved with the content side of things, get seriously creative and become a dynamic director, a promising producer, a rollicking researcher or a really, really, ridiculously good writer. Or, you could take the technical route, get seriously practical and become a legendary lighting technician, an effervescent editor or a calm and collected camera operator. Alternatively, you could use your organisational skills and dive head first into the administration side of TV.
If you’ve switched on the TV in the past five or so years, you’ll know that pretty much every channel now has interactive elements and websites too. That’s right! People are employed specifically to determine just what happens when you push the BBC red button! Exciting or what?!
If you see yourself as the next John Peel, a career in radio might be more up your alley. A role in radio means so much more than being a runner for BBC Radio 1 (although, being a runner for BBC Radio 1 would be a great place to start!). As with most roles in media, it’s a tricky business to get into, with a whole lot of rivalry. So, before you start on this career path, it would be worth applying at your local radio station to get some work experience. It’s all about understanding the technical side of radio and honing your communication skills so that you can use the microphone properly and project your voice like a pro.
Away from broadcasting, you have the likes of film, documentaries and illustration and animation. Each of these career paths requires creativity and originality in abundance. Illustration and animation is a niche business, but there are plenty of amazing opportunities. It’s all about getting your work in front of people. Building up an awesome portfolio of your work is generally the key to success. You’ll also need exceptional drawing skills and an acute eye for detail.
As far as film and documentary film making are concerned, it’s important to have a true passion for the motion picture industry. You might be getting into directing, producing or the technical side of things. Alternatively, you might be starting out on your own and doing all three!
Print media careers in journalism and publishing are incredibly popular areas that many people look to get into. If you’ve seen Johnny Depp play journalist Hunter S. Thompson in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, you’ll know that journalism can be an incredibly exciting industry chock-full of awesome opportunities. You’ll need to be thick-skinned, opinionated, and have the ability to keep an open mind.
To get into journalism or publishing, work experience is pretty much essential. Most people start at local newspapers and work towards national publications, or get internships with independent publishing houses or magazines. You can get involved from an earlier age too: try writing for student newspapers, niche magazines and taking on work-experience roles.
Obviously, in the year 2016 it would be a little naïve (even counterintuitive!) to write an article on media careers and not mention the internet, new media and video games. These are multi-billion pound industries and their ever-expanding nature means that they will only get bigger. Employees in this sector need to have a diverse and wide-ranging skill set, including an understanding of technical processes, in-depth industry knowledge and a head full of innovative ideas.
Of course when we talk about the media, we’re not only referring to stuff aimed at the public. You may also be interested in ‘business-to-business’ media (a.k.a. B2B media). B2B magazines, TV channels and internet-radio shows are aimed purely at corporate audiences. These projects may involve anything from a company advertising its prowess to potential clients to more niche subjects, such as using social networking to build relationships with brand partners.
So, whether you’re looking to get your face (or voice) out there, or you want to get involved in the technical, creative and production sides of things, or you fancy being in a more corporate position, there are very few limits to the amount of opportunities available in the media sector.
Steve J - Camera Operator
Steve has found the perfect work life balance as a camera operator for ITV's Emmerdale and enjoys packing his camera away at the end of the day. His first job was in an office but became very bored and frustrated with office life. He went back to study, first a foundation course and then a degree. Work experience led him into a career in television and would advise all aspiring camera operators to get on the job experience.
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