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Blogger Careers by sector Media and communications MEDIA Programme Student blogger

How To Get Into: Media & Communications

Daniel McGibbon, a blogger from our MEDIA programme, shares the top tips he has learned about breaking into the media and communications sector.

MEDIA blogger Daniel
  1. There is no one route into the industry.

The beauty of entering the media and communications sector lies in its lack of a standardised process. There is no established set of hurdles to clear to get a job. In the points below, I’ll explore some of the vast array of opportunities, methods and avenues to enter the sector. The door is open to anyone with the drive to succeed!

2. Writing experience is invaluable

Having experience in writing is crucial when beginning a career in media and communications – the clue is in the name! Make sure to jump at any opportunity to gain writing experience. Whether it’s proofreading or article-writing as a university or school commitment, these are invaluable experiences to boast about when developing a professional CV. 

3. Build a portfolio

Employers seek people who are accustomed to writing and purveying concise, engaging information. Practicing your skills through something as minimal as a regular blog post shows not only an ability to write, but a commitment to your passion. Find inspiration through reading industry professionals’ work or using resources like The Associated Press Stylebook and develop a portfolio of writing to showcase your ability to potential employers!

4. Find an internship

It’s not a simple task to land a permanent job in media and communications without having some prior, relevant experience. This is an initially daunting thought but it’s a lot more achievable than you might think. 

Everyone must start somewhere, and local work experience, summer internships and similar temporary positions offer an invaluable introduction to the sector! Whether it is assisting at a local radio station or getting accepted to a short-term internship with a media organisation, all relevant experience will make you an attractive candidate for a permanent job. It’s as simple as reaching out and asking if they’ll take you on board for some work experience.

It is important to remember that these experiences are largely unpaid. Whilst big corporations are attractive, they typically exist in cities with huge living expenses that make unpaid positions untenable for someone starting out. Make sure to focus your energy on sustainable experience.

5. Look for an apprenticeship

Another entry point to media and communications exists in the shape of apprenticeships or long-term internships. This avenue offers fantastic experience of how a career in this sector operates daily. This can consist of positions anywhere from television production to online content creation. Check out sites like Idealist for some inspiration.

6. Put yourself out there

Ultimately, there are any number of valid and legitimate ways to enter media and communications, you just have to take the first step and look for openings! Write and read about your interests, ask around for work experience, and most importantly APPLY FOR THE JOB! There are vacancies out there waiting to be filled, it’s up to you to make yourself noticed and prove you want the job.

Want more information on breaking into the media industry? Explore careers by sector area on our website.

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employability Student blogger

How Many Employability Skills Have You Collected?

Kirsty King, a blogger from our MEDIA programme examines some key employability skills and how you can build them up during your time at university.

During your time at university, there will be lots of opportunities to collect different employability skills. Some of the ways in which you can gain these skills could range from joining a club or society or completing a career development programme, to becoming a student ambassador or volunteering. The skills gained in your chosen activities will all add up and help you to reach your full potential in your future career.

Read on to find out some of the key skills that employers look for and how you can collect these at Queen’s…

Leadership

Employers like to see that you have experience of leading individuals or groups. At university, you could develop this skill by nominating yourself for a leadership position in a club or society, become a course, school or faculty representative, or even run for a part-time or full-time leadership position in the Students’ Union. This year, I have been on the committee for the QUB English Society, which has been a great way of learning how a society is run. It has also given me the opportunity to plan a range of events with other committee members.

Interpersonal

Having interpersonal skills means you have sensitivity and the ability to engage with and motivate others. A good way of developing these skills could be through volunteering as a peer mentor in your subject area. As a peer mentor myself this year, I have found the experience of helping first-year students with their transition to university very rewarding.

Communication

It’s important to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing in a professional environment. You could develop this skill by writing for the university newspaper or getting involved in student radio. By taking part in the MEDIA Programme at Queen’s this year, I have learnt about how to communicate effectively in written blogs and social media posts. Furthermore, by presenting some segments on Queen’s Radio shows this year I have developed my oral communication skills. 

Problem Solving

Employers like to see that you can cope with complex situations. By taking part in a study or work placement at home or abroad during your degree, you will face challenges which you may not have encountered on your course, and therefore will have to use your own initiative. Last year, I took part in an Erasmus Study Placement in Belgium, during which I had to solve a number of issues which came with living and studying in a different country. Now, I feel more confident in my ability to problem-solve.

Teamwork

Being able to work in a team involves flexibility, adaptability and creativity. To develop your teamwork skills at university you could join a sports club, music group or any other team activity that interests you. During my time at Queen’s I have been a part of the Ladies’ Rugby Club, which has taught me the importance of teamwork and community spirit.

I hope this has given you an insight into some of the ways in which you can collect employability skills whilst at university. Why not check out the QUB Careers websiteMyFuture, or organise an appointment with a Careers Consultant to find out what opportunities are out there for you!

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CVs First years Student blogger TargetJobs volunteering work experience

7 things first year students can do to boost their employability

Our student blogger Maeve McDermott read the TARGETjobs Careers Survival Pack and here are her key takeaways. Number 4, get to know us better!

Your first year of university can be overwhelming. Moving to a new city and navigating a newfound independence, whilst mastering the art of referencing and attending lectures can mean that thinking about your future career is pushed to the bottom of your list of priorities. However, it is never too early to think about ways to boost your employability while still enjoying everything else that comes along with university life, and TARGETjobs Careers Survival Pack is full of tips on how to just that. Act now and thank yourself later and you can save yourself from that final year rush.

  1. Plan your path 

Thinking about your career early on can be daunting, so it’s useful to chart your direction and decide which route you are going to take so you have a structure to follow. Will you choose a sector/industry to work and look for employers in that sector? Or will you be more flexible about the role and sector, and instead focus on the employers you like and seek out their opportunities? Either way is perfectly fine, but it’s good to choose one path so you can effectively plan your career as early as possible. 

2. Clubs and societies 

Joining clubs and societies is not only a great way to meet people and have fun, but to gain those vital transferrable skills. Teamwork and problem-solving skills are part and parcel of being a member of any club or society, be it Brazilian Jujitsu or the Vegetarian Society, and it shows that you’re committed and have interests outside of your studies and your social life! Plus, having a role of responsibility through running events in any clubs or societies can demonstrate communication and organisational skills, which are sure to impress future employers – and can enjoyable too!

3. Part-time jobs and volunteering 

Part-time jobs and volunteering opportunities also give you the chance to build on those transferrable skills. Whilst stacking shelves or picking up litter mightn’t be what you want to do long-term, the ability to juggle work and study can demonstrate a strong work ethic to employers and really help you to stand out. There are plenty of rewarding and interesting volunteering opportunities available through Volunteer SU who are always looking for people to offer their time, and part-time work both on and off campus are advertised on MyFuture.

4. Get to know your university’s careers service

Explore what your careers service has to offer. From consultations to employer events to international study tours, your careers service is bursting with resources to help you boost your employability alongside your studies. Visit the QUB Careers website often and follow their social media to keep up to date with opportunities and events. Careers fairs and employer events are a great way to meet and network with employers directly – something that you can never do too early.

5. Develop a good study routine 

Establishing an effective study routine from the get-go can really work in your favour. Even if your first year counts for very little, having impressive first year grades will come in handy if applying for internships/work experience in 2nd year, as employers will only have these grades to base their decisions on. Plus, it’s good to develop those study skills early on in your university career to avoid the final year panic.

6.Look at work experience/internships

Be sure to check springtime deadlines/exam dates as some employers offer insight days, work experience, or internships for first year students. More and more large companies are offering these types of opportunities and having these names on your CV can look really impressive to future employers and can be a great way to decide whether an employer is right for you. After finishing your exams and assignments, what better way to start your long summer break than gaining valuable experience and building up your CV early on in your university career? 

7. Register with TARGETjobs 

Registering with the TARGETjobs website means you’ll get sent details of careers events, work experience and tips to improve your employability. They also run the Undergraduate of the Year Awards with an award exclusively for first year students, so what are you waiting for? TARGETjobs also run events to introduce students to employers, with some exclusively for first year students and some open to all year groups, such as webinars that can help with your employability. Have a look and see what’s on offer at targetjobs.co.uk/events

Doing just a few things per semester to boost your employability doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. It’s really as simple as joining a club, volunteering for a few hours or attending an employer event and it can really pay off in the long run. Any effort you put in now will really help you in the future, and your final year self will be forever thankful!

Read more advice from TargetJobs here. 

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CVs Degree Plus DegreePlus employability Interviews part-time job Student blogger transferrable skills

How your part time job is improving your employability

Our student blogger Maeve McDermott, an International Business with Spanish student explains why employers love to see part-time jobs on graduate CVs and why the skills you learn at a part-time job can kick-start your graduate career.

A university degree can provide you with excellent academic skills – you’ll become a pro at writing essays and studying for exams and gain a lot of course knowledge. However, with thousands of students graduating with identical degrees every year, a degree alone isn’t likely to be enough to impress employers. While firms don’t expect graduates to have years of work experience and be experts in their fields, they do want students to have transferrable skills that can are beneficial in the workplace. When applying and attending graduate job interviews. you will be asked questions based on your skills and abilities (often in answers to competency-based interview questions) and part-time jobs can often provide a valid source of examples as internships. Part-time jobs are something a lot of students do alongside their studies, but the skills they gain are often played down. After starting a part-time job in Queen’s Student Guidance Centre in 2018, I’ve gained an abundance of transferrable skills, most of which are without even thinking about them! Here are some examples of how part-time work may relate to transferrable skills you can discuss at interviews. 

Time management 

Juggling a part-time work rota with deadlines, presentations and lectures is a skill in itself. You might have to work an all-day shift the day before a deadline which means you have to learn fast how to plan your workload in advance. Learning how to manage your time and prioritise tasks is a very important skill and one you can showcase to employers, as they are likely to value candidates who can work on various projects simultaneously with varying deadlines. 

Communication skills 

Almost all jobs require good communication skills – either verbal or written. For instance, I spend most of my day helping students and members of the public with queries of all sorts – from advising students on how to book a careers consultation to helping lost tourists to locate the Lanyon Building. Be sure not to underestimate the importance of dealing with customer complaints, writing formal emails to clients or colleagues, and communicating effectively with team members. These are all vital in developing proficient verbal and written communication skills which will undoubtedly be useful in your future career and valued by employers. 

Adaptability 

In my job as a Student Assistant every day can be different. Pre-pandemic, my role would vary from generating social media content, to helping students with queries, to hosting Western-themed careers fairs featuring cowboy hats and live alpacas (yes, really!). Having to adapt to different tasks and environments demonstrates adaptability, so think about how you’ve had to adapt to changing environments in your own part-time job – for instance, having to face a changing role due to the pandemic. Employers value employees who can successfully cope with changes in the workplace and greater adaptability often means greater productivity, and that you’re more equipped to face challenges.

Self-discipline/resilience

While working on Excel spreadsheets doing data entry mightn’t be the most intellectually stimulating of tasks, it can still demonstrate important transferrable skills. Even if some of your responsibilities in a part-time job are somewhat mundane and repetitive, if you can maintain focus and accuracy while performing a repetitive task, this can be a good display of your self-discipline and resilience – something that employers will greatly value. 

Problem-solving 

Being able to come up with solutions to problems is something that is very important to employers, and something that almost always crops up in competency-based interview questions. Problem-solving requires you to use logic and imagination to make sense of a situation and create a working solution by thinking outside of the box. In fact, the best problem solvers actively anticipate potential future problems and act to prevent them or to mitigate their effects. Problem-solving skills also relate closely to analytical skills and innovative and creative thinking as it is necessary to analyse a problem to come up with a useful solution and thinking innovatively or creatively can often lead to the best solutions. Maybe you’ve come up with a more efficient way to count stock in a retail job, or had to think on your feet to overcome a double booking in a hospitality job. No matter how insignificant problem-solving experience may seem, it can almost always be made relevant and applied in interview questions. 

Part-time work throughout university isn’t only a way of earning a few extra pounds alongside your studies. Having and sticking to a part-time job can demonstrate that you’re committed, and CFO of Liberty Global Charlie Bracken told the UK 300 that he was “more impressed by someone who has done a part-time job throughout university than someone who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro”. No matter how irrelevant your part-time job may seem to your degree, chances are it’s developing your transferrable skills significantly, and often without you even noticing.  

Degree Plus can help you formally recognise the employability skills you have built up during extracurricular work as student. Self-nominate by filling out the Combined Experience application form in MyFuture, evidencing two or more relevant activities – part-time jobs, clubs and societies and volunteering can all count.

Good luck!

Deadline: 1 April 

CHECK ELIGIBILITY AND APPLY

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charity Degree Plus Development MEDIA Programme Student blogger volunteering

How to boost your CV and your happiness with charity and development work

Daniella Timperley, a second year Broadcast production student from Randalstown is an International Development intern with the charity Think Pacific. Here are her tops tips on getting into charity and development work as a student…

For some people, getting into charity work happens naturally and other people want to help but don’t know where to start. I’ll help you with that. As a volunteer for over seven years, I have encountered many ways that people can get involved in their communities and abroad. Here’s some steps you can follow to get started:

  1. Do a Google search

This may sound really simple and something you do on a daily basis, but it is as simple as having a look at what is available in your local community. Finding out what is accessible for you is important because in order to stay committed and connected to a voluntary project, it is best that it is easy to get to. Searching what is out there is great for inspiration on what you could possibly be a part of.

2. Find your passion 

Once you have done a Google search, see what those charities do and what causes/social issues they tackle. Is there any that resonate with you? If not, don’t worry you can research into the charities and pick one that you like the sound of. Shooting the charities an email and having that personal connection to a charity sometimes helps make that decision a little easier. 

            If you already have a cause that you are passionate about but there isn’t an organisation in your area that focuses on that, then why not start up your own foundation? I’m sure you’ve heard of the quote “be the change you want to see in the world” from Ghandi. Why not be that person to bring that service to your community? Make sure to define what way this charity will benefit the public and who you are targeting. 

3. How can you help?

After choosing a charity or cause that you feel passionate about contributing to, it’s best to start thinking about how you can be of help. You could have a skill that would be useful to a charity, such as cooking, that would be helpful in a homeless shelter to feed those in poverty, for example, or photography and writing skills that would help a charity create more of an online presence to bring in more donations and community engagement. 

If you feel money would benefit the cause of your choice more than your time, you could be a fundraiser for the charity. You could organise events that can be anything as small as a coffee morning or as extreme as an abseil or skydive. If it is a charity like a refuge, you could use the money you raise to buy supplies such as toys for kids or care package items to bring joy to the residents. You can even run a drive where your community could buy items and donate them to make an even greater impact.

Volunteering virtually

I have been making a difference abroad from the comfort of my own home through the virtual internship programme with Think Pacific. I have partnered with a Fijian organisation to create an awareness campaign for violence against women as an International Development intern. I create infographics for their social media and meeting handouts to provide key information on domestic violence. I get so much from the internship including:

  • Creating work that tackles real problems
  • Increasing my IQ and learn about Fiji’s fascinating culture 
  • Personal mentoring 
  • Endorsement for my work via LinkedIn, job references and a completion certificate 

I hope you now feel inspired to make a difference in your community or abroad. The rewarding feeling you get from helping others cannot be beaten. So, find your purpose and change the world!

Interested in volunteering at Queen’s? Contact Volunteer SU.

Did you know? Volunteering for at least 12 hours counts as one of the two extra-curricular activities needed to self-nominate for Degree Plus through the Combined Experience route. 

The deadline is 1 April.

Check eligibility and apply

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Employers Film studies MEDIA Programme Student blogger

Top CV tips from a BBC Studios Talent Executive

Award-winning series producer and director Ceri Rowlands recently delivered a CV workshop, revealing her top tips to creating a successful CV. It’s scary to think that you may be the perfect candidate for a job but because your CV isn’t formatted correctly, employers will not offer an interview. Luckily, with the right tips and content, your CV is the ticket to your dream job. Remember – a CV should not be more than two sides of a page, so make every word count! Here are some top tips to perfect your CV.

Sell yourself

After including your name and contact details at the top of your CV, write a short paragraph that “briefly summarises who you are.” This introduction can include what your current job or project is, your career objectives, and also emphasise any “higher ambitions” for your future career. Through just three to five sentences, you can immediately grab the employer’s attention by conveying your passion and prove you are the right candidate for the job! 

List practical skills

This part is basically where employers see if you tick all the right boxes to fit the job role. When trying to get your foot into the door of film and production, highlight your technical skills. These may include using specific camera equipment, editing software, and sound operators. By listing these key skills, you are demonstrating your “awareness of production.” Also, do not underestimate the importance of stating if you have a “clean driving history.” This information is crucial when applying for roles, such as a runner, as travelling to production locations may be vital to the role. Additionally, providing details of your work experience proves the situations where you have developed your skills and abilities. Don’t forget to always have the job requirements in mind when writing this section! Tweak your experience details to suit the role!

Relate hobbies to the role

While a lot of job applicants may rely on high academic achievements to guarantee them their job, hobbies and interests actually tell the employer useful information! Make a list of what hobbies you enjoy and what interests you the most. Then, identify what skills you have developed through those part-time hobbies. Notice anything? By letting employers know that you volunteer at a children’s drama club, your willingness to give back to the community along with your leadership and teamwork skills are conveyed. This section of your CV should not be an extensive list, however, consider what couple of hobbies have “shaped your career goals” and win over the employer!

Include relevant links

The format and information for a CV in the creative industry is different from standard formats. When applying for production roles, your experience and skills are the key to your interview. Don’t be afraid to also link the employer any short features, showreels, or any other creative project that appropriately shows your talent! Ensure to set up alerts on BBC’s Careers Hub to never miss a fantastic career opportunity in film!

For more top tips on breaking into TV and Film, check out BBC Digital Cities.

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Film studies graduation Linkedin MEDIA Programme Networking Pandemic Student blogger

My Goals Before I Graduate

Student blogger Dara O’Donnell from our MEDIA programme shares her pre-graduation career game-plan, including leveraging the power of LinkedIn to make vital contacts.

As a final year Film Studies and Production student here at Queens, it has been a whirlwind to say the least and not how I expected to be partaking in my last year at university. For the most part, the switch to online learning was daunting and difficult to get to grips with, being in a practical field that relies on hands-on work and lots of group collaboration. Nevertheless, we adapted quickly and moved on. Personally, I look forward to the exciting times ahead, albeit uncertain, that is to come of final semester and graduation of 2021.

Facing the world of work

Before the pandemic, being a nearing graduate was just as nerve wracking an experience as it seems to me now. With levels of unemployment rising and general anticipation in the air about our future, it is easy to get lost in it. However, it is not all despair, there have been lots of promising opportunities presenting themselves for graduates, surrounding this new world of remote work, affording the chance for people to gain experiences of remote internships for global companies, without having to say those emotional goodbyes to friends and family.

Deciding my path

Like most graduates, I am not 100% clear on what path I want to take for my future career. What I do know is that it belongs somewhere within the creative industry. Therefore, in realising this and approaching the new year, I am taking it step by step to apply myself and achieve some goals before I graduate, setting myself up for the best possible future.

My goals

Some of these goals include; creating an engaging LinkedIn profile that will showcase my personality and ultimately attract potential employers and building a solid creative portfolio to advertise my creative skills. When restrictions lift, I am excited to get out there and film more projects and overall work to improve my creative ability, expanding skills and networking with other like-minded people in the field.

Even in these daunting times, I am optimistic and anxiously looking forward to the future and the wide and many possibilities that are presented after graduation.

Read more from Dara:

How leverage Queen’s online careers portal MyFuture.