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Careers Centre

TV and radio

Sector Overview

This page has been written by Liz Batterham, the relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area. To see how you can meet Liz, or any of our advisers, visit our website.

Working in TV and radio holds great appeal and is seen as a glamorous career, despite the long hours, hard work required and tough competition for jobs. To succeed you need drive and determination, as well as the ability to turn your hand to any task. You will also need confidence to develop your skills, experience and contacts, and be willing, if necessary, to ‘start at the bottom and work your way up’. Don’t expect to have a permanent job in TV – usually your career will change and you will find yourself working on a range of projects on different fixed-term contracts. However, while employment may be varied, it is a very rewarding industry to work in.

With the expansion of satellite broadcasting and digital services, there are more channels than ever before. Advances in technology mean that there are frequent creative developments in programmes, like the increasing use of interactive media with companies using online player websites to broaden the appeal and availability of their programming. There has also been a rise in internet based radio broadcasts. An area of growth in this industry is in digital and online provision, with the expansion of on demand services such as YouView and BT Vision.

Approximately two thirds of UK TV production is based in London and the south of England. You will increase your chances of a successful career in the industry if you are prepared to work anywhere in the UK. According to the Highfliers survey The Graduate Market in 2014, graduate vacancies in larger media firms have decreased substantially since 2007 while applications to media jobs increased by 20% between 2013 and 2014. Many opportunities, however, can be found in smaller independent companies and jobs are found through networking and making speculative applications.

This sector is popular with St Andrews students, with one in six finalists having applied (or planning to apply) in 2015. [Source: High Fliers]

Careers in broadcasting (PDF, 723 KB), read some hints and tips on careers in broadcasting, suggested by Michael Hines, TV Director.

 

Registration is now open for The Network 2017! 

This is a free scheme for those interested in pursuing a career in television (accommodation and food bursary included). Open to any discipline final year students.  Register now.

 

TV and radio attributes/skills profile

 

Key attributes/skills needed for the role Where you could develop these skills or attributes
Very confident and articulate communication skills This is most likely to be developed and evidenced through your academic studies and work experience.
Creativity and an inquisitive mind
Ability to manage time and work well under pressure

CAPOD regularly runs courses covering these skills within its Professional Skills Curriculum.

Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies such as The University Film Society will give you the chance to put them into practice.
Good team-working, organisational and project management skills
Flexibility, drive and perseverance.
Evidence of your broadcasting ability If you have recorded material and posted this on appropriate social media sites this will give you a head start when impressing future employers. Also develop your online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter and setting up your own website to use as a portfolio or blogging. Experience working with Bubble TV or Star Radio are will demonstrate these skills.

Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?

  • Awareness of the technology used in broadcasting.
  • Think about how TV, multimedia and radio communicate and be aware of how a programme maker approaches a subject in order to package it.

 

Nature of sector or roles

Around a third of people employed in the sector are on freelance contracts, with many more employed on short-term contracts. The vast majority of contracts are obtained by word of mouth so interpersonal skills for networking are vital.

This sector incorporates a vast range of occupational roles. Many graduates who consider broadcasting as a career often look for some kind of ‘creative role’, often with little clarity about the options. Think about which role you are most interested in. Is it within the pre-production & production team, eg producer, scriptwriter, researcher, production assistant, television or network radio engineer or within camera or sound operations? Perhaps it is within the broadcast presentation team, eg newsreader, presenter, announcer? Might it be within the news and current affairs team, eg, broadcast journalist or special correspondent? Alternatively, the positions within the post-production team: film and videotape editor, sound editor, transmission engineer may be worth exploring. Finally, there are many interesting roles within the management team, eg, planning & strategy; financial management; interactive systems design (internet websites and interactive television) or marketing and sales promotion.

Networks - why and how to use them

Vicky is an Assistant Producer with IMG / European Tour Productions. She is happy to be contacted on LinkedIn.

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations. Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for Endemol UK Ltd, Bloomberg and Fox International Channels. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

How to gain experience/internships

If you're serious about a career in TV or radio, it is important to show potential employers that you have made good use of your time at St Andrews. Examples of relevant activities include student journalism, involvement in student drama, hospital radio and in film societies. To be competitive you will have to show your dedication and enthusiasm through this kind of involvement. It is also vital to get work experience, ideally in the vacation periods, although often this is followed by a further period after graduating.

In St Andrews

There are plenty of opportunities to be involved in the media at the University of St Andrews, whether you would rather be in front of the microphone or behind the scenes:

UK

Making speculative applications/networking

Many media employers do not advertise vacation opportunities, so you will need to adopt a speculative approach and network - start by making good use of the contacts on LinkedIn and Saint Connect.

Write speculatively to companies whose films/programmes you like to watch and ask them for work experience. If you don’t have a named contact then address to “Head of Talent”. Make your letter stand out - highlight your experience. Try to keep your CV to one page and show examples of working on your own initiative and being delegated work.

Most radio stations will have their own websites, so find a relevant contact and email address and write to them. When writing, explain who you are, what you want to do and what skills you can bring to the job. Be passionate in your application and demonstrate your enthusiasm for new ideas, preferably with examples of your own ideas.

In this industry (perhaps more than any other) you will need to push your way forward. Some people are uncomfortable networking but if you have contacts you will need to use them to get your foot in the door!

How to get a (graduate) job

The main graduate employers in the media sector include:

BBC

The BBC offer a variety of relevant training schemes for numerous roles which vary from year to year according to their requirements. These are not specifically aimed at immediate graduates and it is quite common for successful applicants to already have some broadcasting experience. For current job vacancies, check out the BBC Careers website.

BBC Production Trainee Scheme

The Production Trainee Scheme is the BBC's fast track into production. Further details.

BBC Production Talent Pool

The BBC offers over 100 short term, entry level positions across the BBC. The Production Talent Pool (PTP) is one of the main fast track entry routes into production based roles across TV, radio and online. Formerly known as the Vision Intake Pool and the Audio and Music Pool, the newly launched PTP is looking for talented, creative and well organised individuals, who can demonstrate a passion for telling stories. To apply you don't necessarily need to have worked in the media or be highly qualified, but you will be able to prove your creative abilities through making films or radio shows, writing stories, producing music, designing games, or organising events.

As a member of the PTP you will be eligible for short term, paid entry-level work on a wide range of BBC programmes and productions such as the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, EastEnders or Strictly Come Dancing. The PTP works like a temp agency, and offers of work come up when programmes need short-term assistance.

ITV

ITV - variety of relevant jobs available.

Channel 4

The Channel 4 Graduate Training Programme runs for 24 months giving you hands on experience in your chosen business area as well as a wider view of Channel 4 and the UK media industry.


Sky

Sky offers a number of relevant graduate programmes.


Independent Television Companies and Production Houses

There are around 1,000 independent production companies in the UK. Most belong to the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT).

The Knowledge Online use this online resource to contact production companies directly. It has a list of those operating in the UK.


A small number of these do run trainee schemes; but not necessarily annually. Examples of companies who have previously run graduate schemes include:

 

Formal training schemes are the exception, with the majority of new entrants to the sector getting their first post as a result of an independent company receiving a contract, often at relatively short notice, to produce programmes to order, hence needing additional staff. Sometimes these companies advertise and we have had a few openings advertised on CareerConnect, but more usually they have had enough recent speculative applications or personal contacts to fill any vacancies many times over. Some independent production companies also make videos for all sorts of specialist ‘non broadcast purposes’, for example, training films, corporate communications; the advertising commercial market and short promotional films.


Commercial Radio

Commercial radio stations may sometimes offer work experience or work shadowing placements but rarely offer a first paid step into broadcasting.


Jobsearch websites

There are many job search websites which advertise TV and Radio jobs, eg


Also:

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

The application process for TV and radio jobs will vary according to which company (and role) you are applying. Recruitment is likely to be more formal if you are applying for a graduate training scheme. Smaller organisations may just ask for a CV and covering letter. Check employers’ websites as many provide details on their recruitment and selection processes.

Here are a few examples of different interview processes:

BBC

The BBC uses competency based interview, psychometric testing and assessment centres but there are a variety of other selection tools used, depending on the role to which you are applying.


ITV

Selection procedures vary according to the role but in general it’s a minimum two-stage process. They will review your experience, a range of competencies and if relevant, will also ask you to prepare some form of exercise or presentation at either the first or second stage. For some roles, candidates selected for interview will be asked to complete a variety of tests. These could include verbal and numerical reasoning or an Occupational Personality Questionnaire.


Additional information

Relevant Postgraduate Study

While courses can be useful, they are no substitute for good quality practical experience in the sector and are best seen as a compliment to, rather than a replacement for, the need to get practical industry experience.

There are a number of websites which offer comprehensive listings of relevant courses, namely:

Having identified possible courses we recommend that you contact the course provider(s) of your choice and enquire particularly about the employment outcomes of previous students, and also to check that the course is vocationally, rather than academically, focussed.

Additionally, it's important to think about where you intend to undertake a relevant course of study. Remember that larger cities may provide more opportunities to do quality and worthwhile work experience placements.


The BAFTA Scholarship Programme The BAFTA Scholarship Programme will award scholarships to UK students in need of financial assistance to take a postgraduate course related to a career in film, television or games at an institution in the UK. Each scholarship will provide up to £10,000 to cover one year's course fees, an industry mentor, and free access to BAFTA events around the UK for a year. Applicants are also considered for one of three Prince William Scholarships in Film, Television and Games, supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros, which additionally provides a short funded work placement within the Warner Bros group of companies and access to additional Warner Bros. mentors.

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources

Online

Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

GoinGlobal

Books:

General TV/Radio links

 

USA resources

Vault

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.

 

Internships USA


This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply designed to serve as a starting point: