I wanted to use this final blog post to reflect upon a work-related opportunity that sent a curveball my direction and knocked me sideways. Analogies aside, the NI Screen Aim High Bootcamp was the most intense, heart breaking but inspiring and motivating educational journey I could have possibly imagined. To quote Gandhi, the opportunity illustrated that “the path is the goal” and my lack of success on the scheme is merely an opportunity to continue to learn. 
I’ll be using Gibbs Reflective Cycle to explain and analyse this experience, from interview to bootcamp and all that came after.
Let me explain what happened. The Aim High Scheme consists of a rigorous application process that if successful leads to an 18-month contract where you work for multiple television companies in NI. To succeed, I had to create a TV pitch in under 24 hours, complete multiple online assessments, attend an interview day with 3 different interviewers and finally pitch my idea to a room full of industry professionals and my competitors. This was all in order for us to decide whose idea was the best out of the group. It was fast paced, exhausting but incredibly thrilling. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the best idea of the day and was also selected to go through to the final stage, a 2-week tv production residential bootcamp in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle.
The residential was full of emotion. The bootcamp was a rollercoaster two weeks. With masterclasses, networking, and constant judging from 8am till 11pm everyday it’s easy to see how emotions can go wild. But honestly the most prominent emotion throughout the two weeks was excitement. There is no better way to describe it other than the feeling of looking out a glass door at the most amazing adventure playground, just waiting for someone to hand you the key. As Grant Mansfield says “Above and beyond everything, you have to love the medium you are putting yourself into” and connecting this with the lessons I learnt on the course I came to realise that this is precisely the passion needed for the industry.  Having spoken to countless industry professionals during it, they all explained that this passion doesn’t die, it stays with you throughout the career you love.
In evaluating the bootcamp by its positives and negatives there is one clear winner. The importance of networking, building a personal database of contacts within the industry was overwhelmingly the best part of the process. I met countless industry experts, had dinner with them and chatted about everything from work to hobbies and even the weather. It is these personable moments that stick with them, defining you as a rounded human being, who may in fact have knowledge outside of television that could come in handy when researching for a strange and unusual topic. This isn’t to say that the bootcamp was all positive. I wasn’t successful in gaining a place on the 18-month course, and I did come across hurdles that left my mental health less than positive. But it was all a learning experience and as advised by Angela Myles Beeching, “getting rejected wouldn’t be the end of the world, I’d been rejected before and lived to tell about it.” 
It is interesting to analyse this experience as an extended interview format. It is very clear that I need to bolster my passion for the industry after being unsuccessful this time. It is the driving force in everyone who successfully find themselves working in television. I must look at this in a positive light as rejection is so common within media careers, it must not be taken too personally. You are as much interviewing the company as they are interviewing you, “it is easy to forget the job search is actually a two-way street.”  To walk away from Aim High knowing the scheme may not have been right for me, provides me with more motivation then thinking I am not right for the industry.
I can say sincerely, I learnt more of value in this experience then I have within my whole university course. I had the opportunity to develop skills I had never had before, from pre-production to editing and teamwork. The advice from the professionals supersedes any disappointment I felt after the feedback and has left me with a list of contacts and my own personal ‘tv bible’ that are sure to lend a helping hand as I progress.
After the course I know I have to keep following my passion. On receiving feedback after the course, I felt I was met with an in-depth character assassination. Not at all what I was expecting to hear but useful none the less. Having to compartmentalise the experience left me saying the same phrase over and over again in my head; “Right for the industry, wrong for the scheme.” They repeated this throughout the process, and it had obviously stuck with me, helping me build my self-confidence for whatever came after. This has fundamentally made me more driven and determined to succeed at my passion. As I wish to pursue a career in such a cutthroat industry, its important to remind myself ‘An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.’ I have since reworded my CV a dozen times, sent what feels like thousands of emails and researched every inch of the industry in order to build from the incredible foundations I now have.
So in reflection, I feel I have entered a new stage of my career. I have nearly all the resources I need to jump into the deep end of the media industry and achieve something great. My placement opportunities in this final year of university have really kitted me out with the tools to succeed in applications, interviews, entry level jobs and in my working life. I just hope I can make the most of them.
 Gibbs Reflective CycleUniversity of Cumbria Academic Services & Retention Team (2016) Gibbs’ reflective cycle, Available at: