Creative Access intern Ashley-Francis Roy recently attended Hay Festival in Wales. In this blog piece, Ashley gives us a full round-up of his experience. Ashley is currently interning at BBC Arts.
Hay Festival is an arts and literature festival held annually in Wales. Some of the best known figures in the arts speak and perform there each year, so it was exciting to be asked to take part in a panel discussion at the festival this year. The BBC invited me to take part in a discussion on how to break into the media along with Sally Garwood (BBC Radio Apprentice), Peter Maniura (Head of Digital Development for BBC Arts), and Susie Worster (Talent Manager for Shed Media). The hour-long panel was chaired by Rebecca Jones the BBC’s Arts correspondent. I was a bit nervous about speaking in front of an audience about breaking into the media, especially as I have only been working in the industry for about 8 months. The Madonna-style microphone we had to wear didn’t help but Rebecca Jones made it feel very easy and comfortable.
We began by describing how we each broke into the media. The industry was quite different when Peter and Susie were starting out and their stories contrasted with mine and Sally’s – who is on a training scheme similar to Creative Access. As a Talent Manager Susie Worster receives hundreds of CVs a week so was able to clearly suggest what works well. Despite the volume they receive, every CV is considered and added to a database. Susie said she is used to a standard CV format that begins with a short statement about the candidate’s experience and ambitions, a list of their key skills, and their relevant experience in reverse chronology.
It was good to have a frank discussion about networking, as I feel this is a subject people avoid even though the media industry is so explicitly network based. I initially felt uneasy about networking and worried that it could be a bit creepy and aggressive, but since starting my internship I’m more convinced it can be done in a way that feels positive. We all agreed that it is great to stay in touch with people you’ve worked with by, for example, sending a thank you email, congratulating them on a programme, or updating them on what you have been up to. If you take an interest in people and their work and think about how you can help them, people will be more likely to want to work with you – compared to someone who only looks for what others can offer. It’s fine to let people know you’re available for work too, but it’s important not to seem pushy or aggressive.
In response to an audience question we discussed whether it was possible to break into the media outside of London. Peter mentioned that there are lots of great opportunities outside of London especially now the BBC has major bases in Bristol, Birmingham, Salford, and Glasgow on top of it’s regional departments. It was hard not to acknowledge, however, that both Sally and I had moved to London for work and that many of the opportunities in the industry are in London.
The hour passed incredibly quickly and I had some time to enjoy the festival before heading back home. As I walked around it was reassuring to speak to some people who were in the audience and found our discussion helpful. Enjoying the free coffee and wine in the artist’s green room was a real privilege and I had chance to hear Jon Ronson and Malorie Blackman give talks on their work!