Working in TV

Have you spent a lot of time during your degree watching TV and shouting your opinions at the screen? If you really love TV, have lots of ideas and thrive in a busy, buzzing work environment, a career in the TV industry might be worth thinking about.

The bad news: Careers in TV require perseverance and, often, a lot of hard work and long hours without high levels of pay. The job is unlikely to be very glamorous at first (or ever) – you might find yourself making a lot of tea when you start out. It can be unstable too, with short-term and temporary contracts common.

If you’re still keen and TV is something you’re passionate about, here are some practical tips about getting into the industry:

Research

Find out everything you can about different job roles and the companies/organisations who hire for these roles. Creative Skillset has job profiles and a list of key employers in TV to get you started in your research, as well as a really useful article about being a Runner (which is often the first paid position on the career ladder). Remember that there are a variety of job roles associated with TV; the more different options you’re willing to consider when you start looking for jobs, the more likely you will be to be able to find one. In this industry, it is usual to start at a junior level and progress.

Keep up to date with the trends in programming, and the kinds of programmes being made at the moment. Interviewers will want to know not just that you like TV, but what kind of TV you like, and what you think of the programmes made by their company or organisation. Get familiar with current issues within the sector too.

Get some work experience

Work experience is a must. It will help you get a sense of what it’s really like to work in TV and help you to make contacts, which will be invaluable as you progress in your career. This is a really popular area of work, so if it’s what you want to do, don’t be discouraged if it takes some time and perseverance to get a work experience placement.

The BBC and ITV have work experience schemes. Lots of production companies also offer work experience – have a look at their websites. You will often need to be proactive and take the initiative to find work experience by getting in touch with employers, and sending speculative applications.

Further resources

Creative Skillset

Breaking into the TV industry, take one (The Guardian)

Emily Hogg
Applications Adviser
QM Careers & Enterprise Centre

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