what am I doing … what have I done?

(this is just one of many, but it would take me a day to write them all down, plus it’d be very boring to read).

Today I was thinking about how I should really email my old lecturer’s Rachel and Min about my MA Final Documentary Project. They told me to email them to let them know how I got on after I interviewed them for my radio piece and Rachel specifically requested to know my mark!

Well I have my mark…

So I will drop her an email. It also reminded me that Rachel suggested/hinted I come into Plymouth uni and give a talk to some 3rd year students about the various post-degree paths (specifically mine) and doing a Masters.

Apart from the fact I know I’d shit myself from fear I think I’d take some enjoyment out of it. I might actually be able to offer these young kids some advice! It got me thinking what I’d say to them and the obvious came to mind; I’d tell them to go off and get work experience wouldn’t I? It got me thinking about my own..

I listed off in my mind (whilst pretending to be at the front of the lecture theatre wearing braces, knitwear and skinny tie) all the work experience I’ve got:

not a lot is it…? But then I considered how many work experience placements or jobs I’ve applied for and how much voluntary work I’ve done in the last year or so and was quite surprised:

  • BBC Radio 1
  • BBC Radio Breakfast (London)
  • BBC Radio Drama & Entertainment
  • BBC The Culture Show
  • Channel 4 Talent Day (Leeds)
  • Channel 4 Talent Day (Penzance)
  • Reef Film Production Company
  • Back2back Production Company
  • 24 Production Company Assistant Runner
  • Atlantic fm presenter
  • Daphne du Maurier festival volunteer
  • Interview with TV Personality
  • UCF film presenter and script-writer
  • Camera woman!
  • DIY magazine
  • tmrw magazine
  • Source fm show guest
  • Heart fm

I can safely say October 2011 – August 2012 was the most productive 11 months of my life! Hey, compared to some other people I’m sure it’s not that impressive, but for me it’s quite an achievement! Including the BBC Radio 1 application form I filled out 3 years ago when I’d just finished my undergraduate degree I’ve applied for 6 BBC work experience placements; I managed to get one (and a half – don’t ask, long story) and to be honest that was only through Falmouth University. I’d forgotten about a couple of them until I found some saved word docs in my ‘uni’ folder on my hard drive; old application forms.

It really is a slog isn’t it? And application forms never get any easier.

You write them in Word and save them in case the website crashes or freezes or doesn’t save your data, but also because you think you can use them as a template for future applications  – but that never works… every placement you apply for requires slightly different answers each time and during each interval between applications your experience and knowledge  changes and develops, your skills increase and you want to write different things.

Not only that but you form a different outlook. In my Channel 4 application one of the questions was ‘what perspective do you have to offer the media industry that’s unique or different from others?’

I started to write your typical answer ‘I have work experience, I’ve just done a Masters,  people say they like my blog because they like my matter of fact approach’ blah blah blah and then I thought, you know what that’s such bullshit. It’s boring and unoriginal and certainly not unique. I back spaced it all and thought: I’m so tired of filling out application forms and trying to write what I think people want to hear whilst attempting to portray my ‘amazing’ personality. It’s bloody impossible.

And do you know what I thought then? Honest to God I thought, I’m going to do a Morgan Freeman. I’m going to do a Red.

In the the film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic, Freeman’s character goes to plead for his prison release on several occasions, each time telling the panel of people what they want to hear; that he’s not a threat to society, that he’s atoned for his sins and each time they reject his application. After many failed attempts he gets so sick of saying the same things and getting nowhere that he tells them to go f*!k themselves, that he couldn’t care less what they decide and guess what? They grant him approval.

I didn’t tell Channel 4 to go f*!k themselves, far from it – I desperately wanted that placement! But I didn’t candy coat, I didn’t praise my experiences. I told it like it is, quite informally so, and took a risk.

To be completely honest, my personal perspective of the media industry is that it can be incredibly brutal. It presents a ton of problems; expenses you can’t afford, competition, disappointment, let-down; which is why you need determination and a good sense of humour.

 The last work experience placement I did I stayed in a flat where I was bitten over 50 times by something living in my room. I had to go into the BBC scratching every day; I went to the doctors and was prescribed twenty pounds worth of steroid cream and tablets. Many of the bites blistered. It was a nightmare.

 For a few days all I wanted to do was go home, and yet the people I worked with were so lovely and so friendly and the work so fulfilling, after I changed accommodation and the time came to go I really didn’t want to leave.

That work experience was a big learning curb for me, an experience I’ll never forget. Far from warding me off doing more it only pushed me further; I got a taste for the work place and for working with great people and I liked it! I can’t even consider doing anything else now and no matter how much money it costs me or how many bites I get I’ll keep trying!

Reading it back, it sounds incredibly lame, but it’s memorable isn’t it? It’s different. The BBC probably would have hated it and when I told my mum what I wrote she went mental: ‘oh no you didn’t did you??’  But the risk paid off.

After all those other failed applications I finally succeeded in one that I really wanted.

It’s just over a year since I started my Masters with a naive and much lazier head on my shoulders! I think about how much pressure there is on young people to get work experience these days and it frustrates me and makes me slightly angry. I’m poor enough as it is without having to work for free. It’s incredible how we simply take is as a given these days to have to earn money to use it to work, unpaid, somewhere else. As one Independent blogger says: ‘we pay for the privilege to work for free.’

Yet I’m still hopeful I’ll get where I want to be eventually. In the mean time I have more work experience applications to fill out, and once I’ve gone off and done the travelling thing, maybe even a job!



2 thoughts on “what am I doing … what have I done?

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