Be prepared to start at the bottom and learn as much as you can on the way up.
If you think you may be after a career on the box, it's never too early to start gaining experience. Grab any opportunity you can - whether it's at your student newspaper or your college TV station - as they are all things to write on your CV. It will help you to stand out amongst the thousands of other young hopefuls if you can prove your enthusiasm and dedication.
Without any contacts, getting in can seem an overwhelming task. The BBC has previously offered a number of schemes that include placements working in various aspects of the media. Don't be put off by the lengthy application forms or the high number of applicants. After all, someone has got to be chosen and that might as well be you. When filling out application forms or speaking to potential employers remember to sound confident.
Think how the skills and experience you have can be transferred to the area you're pursuing. First jobs in TV are often unpaid – hopefuls taking advantage of any opportunity they can to get into the industry. Be prepared to start at the bottom and learn as much as you can on the way up.
You may find yourself sending off dozens of letters with little or no response. If you are lucky enough to be chosen for a placement it can be a great opportunity to see the industry from a completely new angle and witness first-hand the decisions and dilemmas that are a natural part of the programme-making process.
Although you're unlikely to be offered a job at the end of any placement, it's worth asking those already working there how they got in, as well as the names of any useful contacts. Send these contacts your CV, speak to them and make sure they are aware just how much you want to work in the industry. Don't be shy or worry that you are being a pest!
The direct approach
Many other TV channels and independent production companies offer work experience, although you may have to approach them directly. The internet is an inexhaustible source of information with full details of production companies and channels. The BBC offers pretty good comprehensive advice regarding all aspects of working in the media, as well as some useful links.
Broadcast is an invaluable guide to what's going on in the media. It gives details of programmes that have been commissioned, and also the producers and companies involved. It's worth writing to these and asking if there are any work experience opportunities available, as an extra pair of hands is always useful in the early stages of production.
Don't be disheartened!
Trying to get on in any industry can often be a disheartening process, but the level of competition for a job in TV makes it even more so. However, all you can do is keep on trying and in the meantime really use your time effectively. Participate in local projects, magazines, community newsletters, anything that shows your commitment and eagerness to get involved. All these skills look great on your CV and will help you get one step closer to a job on the telly.
Top 5 tips for a job in TV
- Keep up to date with developments within the industry via newspapers and media publications. A good knowledge of this shows any employer you are serious and committed about working in TV.
- Think about the skills you have and how they can be transferred to your chosen field. What are the qualities your potential employer is looking for?
- Make the most of the opportunities available to you. Participate in local voluntary groups, community newsletters etc as they all look good on your CV and are a great talking point at interview. Also, you never know where a small project may lead or the contacts you may meet.
- Be confident and positive when filling out application forms and speaking to contacts - if you don't believe you have the necessary ability nobody else will either!
- Don't give up! It may seem a long and painful process but if you make the effort your persistence will pay off!