Getting a graduate job in Arts, Culture and Media

Why aren’t there more media companies on campus?

We are well aware that most of the jobs advertised for graduates are not with media related companies. Because of this we bend over backwards to get media companies onto campus. They don’t usually come. Why?

They do not have graduate training programmes. This means that they do not have vacancies specifically for those leaving university with limited work experience. Media companies recruit what are known as ‘experienced hires’. The small independent production companies who make programmes, sometimes have roles as runners or production assistants for those with little or no experience. This is the usual entry route for graduates. These jobs are rarely advertised. They get filled by ‘word of mouth’ or through speculative applications – either in paper or in person. For example, one of the traffic presenters on Radio Scotland got her first job in radio when she was a waitress in a restaurant frequented by staff from the station. This is how it works.

That’s why, if we can’t get the companies to come in we approach ‘names’ who have worked for the BBC and the like – recently we had Kirsty Wark and Jackie Bird on our First Tuesday Talks –  to tell you how they got started so you can copy them!

Why aren’t there more jobs in Arts and Culture?

Good question. You would think from the headlines Image-015athat we are drowning in culture! The ‘City of Culture’ bids, Olympic and Commonwealth Games, the way that arts, culture and music are promoted to support our wellbeing.

I think we need to remember that a lot of art and culture is funded from the public purse. The public purse is shrunk and shrinking. Much of the money in Arts and Culture from the public purse is in the form of a grant, which has a short shelf life and does not create that many long term job opportunities. A lot of the work in Arts and Culture is done on a volunteering basis – most of the opportunities associated with the Olympic and Commonwealth Games were volunteering. Many of those working in arts and culture got started by working for free to get the necessary experience to apply for paid posts. Also, many of the jobs in this sector are self-employed.

Don’t get me wrong. It is highly possible to make a good career in arts, culture and music if you want to but very few jobs come ready-made.

Why aren’t there more advertised opportunities for writers?

Believe me. If there were more advertised jobs for those who wanted to write ‘out there’ we would post them on our vacancy board.

Most openings to write are self-generated! You have an idea for an article, you look for the on-line and print publications which might publish your article, you float the idea with the editor. You might not get paid for it first time and your first shot might not get published, but this is how you start building your writing career.

Again there are no graduate training schemes for would be writers. That’s why we set up events like the Human Book Project in our library in October where 8 alumni from the industry came in to talk with students offering advice on how to get started as a writer!

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