This week, the Queen Mary Careers and Enterprise Team held a Media Summit, where a panel of experienced professionals spoke about their roles in a variety of industries, including the likes of BBC and Penguin Random House.
Once again, I’m going to be honest. I was worried about attending this talk, since I still haven’t shaken my fear of networking. But I’d preferably like to be employed when I graduate. So, I figured it was best to act in my own self-interest.
The event began with each speaker giving a brief description of their roles. While I was listening, I scrolled my eyes along the summary sheets that were provided, noticing that the majority of speakers had attained a master’s degree. Sheer panic filled my entire body. Do I need a masters? But I don’t want one? Have I ruined my life? (I’m an overthinker).
After the panel, we were sat in grouped tables to participate in speed networking. Each professional would rotate and spend a few minutes at our table, ready to answer any questions we had about their job. Just like speed dating. Get it? I’m just glad I didn’t have to stand up. Luckily, the Careers team had an instinct that an awkward silence occurs when you place actual grown-ups with a group of uni students, so there was a list of suggested questions to ask on each table.
I took so much from the speed networking, and I’m glad the Careers Team introduced it, otherwise I would not have had the confidence to approach each speaker one to one. I thought I share a few tips they touched upon to help anyone like me, who’s currently going through a final term existential crisis.
- Start small
Like everyone aspiring for a career in media, I’ve been looking at various established newspapers and television companies. However, I learnt that most of the speakers got their foot in the door at smaller companies, before they joined the likes of BBC, or Channel 4. Starting at smaller companies not only gives you additional experience, but you will be given much more responsibility, which will really allow you to build up your CV.
Even if you already have a job, taking the time to do unpaid work on weekends, or outside of your shift hours, within a field you’re interested in demonstrates passion. It will show employers how committed you are towards achieving your desired career, and also looks good on a CV!
- Be Versatile
While job hunting, even if you are offered an opportunity that doesn’t align with your interests, don’t turn it down straight away. Taking on media roles outside your field of interest can show versatility. Take the opportunity to show employers you can engage with a number of subjects.
- Stand out
The last thing employers look for is a general personal statement. Tailor your CV’s and applications to show what makes you qualified for the job you’re looking for. At times, employers may only read the beginning of personal statements, so you want to make yourself known from the first sentence!
- Stalk but don’t Stalk
If you haven’t heard back about a job, or you’re in need of some help planning your next steps, contacting employers by email is a great way to get free advice. If you ask them to go for a coffee, most will be happy to meet you and tell you more about their role. Disclaimer: The Print does not condone stalking.
Overall, I found the talk super helpful, and I’m very glad I went. I’m pleased to say that after today, I’m a bit less scared of networking. Baby steps, I guess. I hope this alleviates any fears you may have, if you’re as worried as I am about post-graduation life. A big thank you again to Becky Gardner and the Careers team who organised the event. For updates on upcoming events, I subscribed to the firstname.lastname@example.org email list, which I now check every day!
I’m going to leave you with a quote mentioned by a speaker called Anila Chowdhry, a presenter and producer from BBC. She told us that “Being rejected is better than being ignored.” So don’t be afraid to apply for the job you want today. I learnt that the path to my dream career is not likely to be a straight line, and that’s okay.