Media Careers: What Employers Want | Top Universities

Media Careers: What Employers Want

By Staff Writer

Updated April 1, 2021 Updated April 1, 2021

Few question the appeal of graduate jobs in the media industry. We spoke to media sector employers to find out how to get your foot in the door.

For graduates of every discipline, the media sector has always held a certain charm.

There’s the perceived glamour, the chance to produce work in the public eye, the creative elements involved, and, in the right role, the potential to put specific knowledge as well as general skills gleaned during one’s period of study to good use.

Competition is, therefore, fierce.

A study by High Fliers Research found that that roughly one in seven students in the UK wants to work in the media sector, and you can add to that future graduates who haven’t yet considered where to employ their expertise.

“It’s tough. Very tough,” comments Ben Young, HR Operations Director at IPC Media (publishers of NME, Wallpaper* and Marie Claire magazines, amongst others). “In common with the rest of the publishing industry staff numbers have fallen substantially over the years, so competition for places is even greater.”

Multi-talented media graduates

So what can a candidate do to stand out?

Young says there’s no such thing as an ideal candidate, but there are certainly things you can do to improve your prospects. For one thing, being confident with the multi-format nature of modern media is important.

“You have to show a commercial understanding and an ability to connect almost every media platform. At IPC we are no longer just about print – we are multiplatform where our content connects to our audiences through so many different channels. Being multi-skilled, comfortable with, say, both writing and editing a three-minute video, is a great plus.”

At SBS, a publically funded Australian broadcasting corporation, another sort of ‘multi’ is advantageous. “As far as SBS is concerned,” explains Paul Cutler, Director of News and Current Affairs, “it helps to have a multicultural background and speak at least one language other than English.”

Though the advantages of this are particularly accentuated with SBS, the raison d’être of which is to serve Australia’s multilingual community, it seems fair to say that having more than one language in your arsenal will serve you well in any news-orientated broadcasting operation.

Cutler also emphasizes the importance of having a good degree “either in journalism or associated media and arts subjects. A graduate qualification is useful, especially if associated with media studies,” he also adds. Though it may seem obvious, he also points to the necessity of having a portfolio of work built up during internships and any previous work experience.

Behind the media graduate qualifications

While he agrees that qualifications are a good starting point, Young looks for other qualities, more likely to be evidenced through previous workplace experience as opposed to in the classroom.

“I am looking for someone who can show me a genuine commitment to editorial. People who can show me they’ve talked their way into a local paper or radio station or gone to the BBC (the UK’s main public broadcaster) or one of the nationals impress me."

He adds that seeing things in a different way, whether it’s expressed through words, design, or otherwise, is also key.

Though experience and qualifications will serve as the fulcrums of your CV, it is also important to show a genuine interest in the specific field into which you’re trying to break. “I mourn the fact that many people today don’t list their interests on a CV,” states Young.

“I love that section because it’s a real insight into the person behind the qualifications. If someone says their passion is to work on Look I will probably see a deep interest in all things fashion; if it’s NME they will have regular gig tickets or may play an instrument; if it’s Wallpaper* I’d see a love of design.”

Media graduates: What motivates you?

While warning that “it’s hard work with potentially long hours and no overtime, and the pay won’t always keep you in the style to which you may want to become accustomed,” Young emphasizes that the struggle to break into the sector is often worth it.

“Media has always had a sexy image and there is no doubt, especially in editorial, it is a fun and exciting place to be. You get lots of juicy insider gossip, you get to meet lots of fascinating people and go to the occasional red-carpet party.”

But, he concludes, this shouldn’t be your main motivation. “Think carefully about what you want to do and why you want to do it. Think about the future, where you want to get to and what will drive you out of bed every morning. Look at our portfolio, study the brand you are interested in, look at the competition and then bring your ideas, your passion and your drive.”

This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in April 2021

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