The next stop on many Creative Access community members’ career journey last week was Coronation Street, as we hosted our creative industries showcase event at ITV Studios in Salford, just above the television set experience!
We partnered up with ITV Academy to tap into Greater Manchester’s thriving creative community and heard from a panel of professionals living and working in the area spanning TV, marketing, social, creative communications and publishing. The panellists shared insight into their career journeys as well as advice on how to find your own creative industry pathway and move up the career ladder. Luckily for you, we’ve collated some of the highlights here in case you missed out…
- Yasmin Hemmings (Chair), Acting Head of Programmes, Creative Access
- Abdul Tahir, Support engineer, Coronation Street, ITV
- Malyun Mohamud, Marketing officer, University of Salford (CA alumni)
- Tierney Witty, Editor, Seven Dials & Trapeze, (CA alumni)
- Tom Moss, Senior account manager, Citypress
- Jahmal Williams-Thomas, Reporter & camera operator, ITV News Granada Reports
The room was full of individuals looking to step into a career in the creative industries, and the appetite for hearing just how these panellists made it happen was high. The team at Creative Access know that the first jump into sectors such as publishing, journalism and TV can be daunting, and creatives based in the North as these are historically London-centric indsutries. But, we know that creative opportunities are opening up around the country and we heard an inspiring range of ways you can make it happen.
How our panel got their career breaks
“I spoke to absolutely everyone…If I walked past someone in the hallway, I asked “What is it you do?”” – Jahmal
Our publishing representative was editor Tierney, a former Creative Access intern and mentee. Tierney had been training to become a teacher in the pandemic, but his passion was in books. After over 150 job rejection letters, Tierney came across the CA x Penguin Random House mentoring scheme and was connected with a publishing mentor: “I went from having nothing to having a job in six months.” His mentor helped with applications, networking, and he progressed from intern to editor in just three years.
Tierney wasn’t the only panellist that had other careers in sight, with Tom, senior account manager in PR, having spent years as a competitive swimmer for Great Britain. Tom, a history and politics graduate at University of Manchester, wanted a career that was rooted in his love of writing, reading and storytelling. After lots of rejections and a job as a bookkeeper, he eventually rose up the PR ranks at Manchester-based Citypress, working on campaigns with Coca-Cola, British Gas and Primark.
Marketing officer, Malyun, had dreamed of a creative career “for as long as I can remember”, but the dream of journalism quickly unfolded when she didn’t enjoy completing a diploma in the sector. The skills Malyun acquired studying journalism transferred well into communications. She now loves her career in marketing and comms, which started with a CA internship as marketing trainee.
Camera operator and reporter, Jahmal, told the audience: “It used to be a totally different landscape to how you get in the industry, it’s much better now with mentoring and other opportunities. I started working when I was 15, in a community group I honed craft in video, then got into the BBC and I spoke to absolutely everyone…If I walked past someone in the hallway, I asked “What is it you do?””
Coronation Street’s support engineer, Abdul, studied media technology at University of Salford. There were pathways from that course into audio, camera work, directing, and after experiencing a variety of roles in Leeds and within the sports industry, he eventually found a role at ITV. Abdul advised “marketing yourself on LinkedIn – even things you’ve learned that you haven’t necessarily experienced yet. Connect with professionals and send them a message introducing yourself.”
How to creative opportunities in the North-East
“This wasn’t the plan, it wasn’t my dream…there aren’t many people from Merseyside that I know in this industry.” – Tierney
A hot topic of the night were the opportunities, or historically lack of, outside of London. The panellists all have experience in building successful careers in Greater Manchester, and noted that the industry is diversifying, so to pay attention to companies with offices based in the North or which are expanding. The panellists also emphasised how important virtual networking is. For publishing enthusiasts, Tierney said: “Publishing is on Twitter, not LinkedIn. Every publishing house will have a Twitter so follow them and send a message.”
Attendees were also advised to be pragmatic, and explore the possibility of breaking into an industry through alternative pathways to the most popular, so if you want to become an editor, look at roles in areas of that sector like design, sales or art. Jahmal advised an aspiring director in the audience to look at the many brilliant independent production companies in the North.
Six brilliant career top tips for creative industry roles
Straight from the professionals’ mouths:
“Have your work ready at a moment’s notice, so that if one day you’re in a lift and you hear someone in a say, “I really need more crew on my production” you’ve got a business card, a website, a portfolio, ready and can say “Hi, here’s my information!””
“I will respond better to a DM saying ‘Alright mate? How’s it going’ than an email with loads of unnecessary words. You just need to be casual and say ‘Here’s what I do, I would love if you could look’. Be specific about what you’re asking of them and spell names correctly!”
“Speak up. Ask to get involved in big projects. If you don’t see progression opportunities with your current company, look for one that does.”
“Experience is the buzz word isn’t it. How can I get experience? Blogging, podcasting, anything that showcases your skillset…If I went to a gig, I’d review it. It shows passion.”
“Be a sponge. Be ready to do everything and learn something from every person you interact with. You’ll build yourself up made from skills you’ve learnt from a million people around you.”
“Imposter syndrome doesn’t just happen to people early in their careers, it happens to my colleagues that have been here 20 years. Look back at your career and what you’ve achieved. You’re here for a reason, so back yourself.”
Finally, ITV Academy’s Sonny Hanley spoke to announce a very exciting ITV cohort of traineeships across Manchester and Leeds, that will be going live on the Creative Access website soon. Make sure you’re signed up with us to be the first to hear about it!
The evening continued with lots of networking, LinkedIn connects and spring rolls. We want to say thank you so much to our panellists, our host at ITV Salford and everyone in our community that came. Until next time!