How to find media work experience

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BBC headquarters in London

Whether it’s through the news, film, YouTube, a podcast or even the good old radio, the media touches all of our lives almost every day. Jobs are highly competitive and many media professionals have university degrees – which makes media work experience really important if you want to get a head start in the industry.

In this article, we explain what the media is, look at some of the jobs you can do and explore some of the ways you can gain that all-important media work experience.

'Work experience is vital for career success in the media - and there are plenty ways to get it, whether that's via an employer scheme, through your studies or in your personal life'

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What is the media?

Jobs in the media are really varied

You’ve probably heard a lot about “the media”. We often associate it with “the press” – the news industry – but the media is actually an enormous area of work, spanning TV, film, radio, the internet, photography and publishing as well as the newspapers and their online counterparts. In the media industry, these platforms are used to get information to people – whether that’s through a newspaper article, an image or photo, a film or TV programme, a book or a YouTube video.

The online side of the industry is often referred to as “digital media”.

Jobs in the media

Given the size of the industry, jobs in the media are extremely varied. Here are just a few of the jobs you could do:

  • Journalist
  • Film-maker
  • Photographer
  • Blogger or vlogger
  • Producer
  • Scriptwriter
  • Copywriter
  • Editor
  • Web content writer
  • Social media officer

Why gain work experience?

Jobs in the media are becoming more and more competitive, which makes media work experience really important for getting ahead in the industry.

By undertaking a work placement, you will gain skills and experience in your chosen role and be able to demonstrate to future employers that you have what it takes to excel in the role. This will make your job applications stand out from the crowd.

Media work experience is particularly important if you don’t want to do a degree as a large proportion of people in the media are university graduates.

How to gain work experience in the media?

Work experience schemes

Many media employers provide work experience schemes

Some employers in the media offer work experience programmes you can apply to. Some placements are only available for those aged 16+ or 18+, although there are some schemes specifically aimed at younger students. The great thing about these programmes is that they will give you on-the-job experience – you will get to be a journalist, filmmaker or radio producer for the duration of your placement! How many school leavers – or even university graduates – can put that on their CV?

Here are some examples of employers offering media work experience:

  • BBC (16+) – TV, radio, news
  • ITV (ages 14-17) – covers all areas of the business
  • Guardian (18+) – journalist shadowing and editorial activity
  • Channel 4 (18+) – work on your own brief in one area of the business

Local newspapers sometimes offer work experience opportunities. Often, you will need to get in touch with them directly and ask because they don’t generally run formal schemes.

This is just a taster of the media work experience opportunities available. Other employers such as Sky and The Times may also offer work experience. Check out our work experience listings to see what’s on offer now.

Build a portfolio

As well as undertaking any relevant work experience placements, you should use your studies and spare time to develop and perfect skills over the long term, building up a portfolio you can use to impress employers.

Here are some ideas:

Blogging

Blogging is a great way to build up your portfolio

Keeping a blog on a particular topic is a good way to hone your copywriting skills and develop your own style. It also shows that you can write in a media-friendly way and demonstrate that you have the potential to be a good choice of candidate. Also try promoting your blog online through social media to demonstrate that you have wider digital media skills and commercial savvy employers often look for.

Vlogging

Vlogging on your own YouTube channel is an easy way to develop and demonstrate your presentation, scriptwriting, video-editing and creativity skills. Whether you want to be a presenter, producer, editor, scriptwriter or professional vlogger, this is a good choice if you have the flair and confidence.

Photography

Collect a portfolio of your photography work to show employers what you have done. Enter photography competitions and look for opportunities to develop your skills within a media setting, such as a local newspaper.

School newspaper

Writing for the school newspaper is another excellent way to develop your writing skills. If you don’t have one, why not set one up and build your editorial and publishing skills too? Don’t forget to hold some copies back for your portfolio.

Art & design

GCSE or A-level/equivalent art & design is an opportunity to build a portfolio of your photography work if you choose the photography route.

Media work experience is really important for beginning your career in the media. But there are plenty of opportunities for gaining this experience in your school life, home life and through work experience opportunities. Visit our Publishing & Media Career Zone to find out more.

Image credits

Lead image via Geograph, Female journalist via Wikimedia Commons, Young journalist with equipment via DFID Flickr account, Girl on laptop via Pxhere

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