Case study

Development and research assistant — Tilly Holland

Tilly explains how important media-related experience is if you're looking for work in the competitive world of television

What degree did you study?

I studied media studies at the University of Brighton and graduated in July 2019.

How did you get your job?

I work as a development and research assistant for a television company and got the job through the Talent Manager website. I didn't have the relevant experience but emailed the company anyway. After weeks of intense interviewing, including a paid task, I was offered the job on a Thursday evening and moved to Belfast on the Monday morning.

How relevant is your degree?

I knew I wanted to work in the film or television industry before I went to university but I decided to do a media studies degree at Brighton as it covered so many different aspects of the media industry from social media to journalism and PR. This kept my options open when it came to different job applications as you use a lot of those skills and knowledge from the degree in most of the media industry.

Part of the degree also included a placement month. I did mine at a television company, which was very hands on meaning I learned a lot. This then helped majorly with applying for jobs and also took any nerves out of a future TV job. It also showed up as relevant experience on my CV, which was very helpful.

In my holidays out of term time I did some unpaid work experience at another media company too, which again bulked up my CV.

What's a typical working day like?

I do what my job title is basically, I develop and research television show ideas. One day I could be having a three-hour brainstorming session for new TV show ideas with the team and the next I might be developing ideas the team has created and researching if they are possible or if they've been done before. I could be sourcing and corresponding with experts and celebrities who could be part of the show and then having Zoom meetings with said celebrities and experts. I’ve even sat in on a pitch to the BBC.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The company I work for wants to make TV shows 'that'll make the world a better place' (shining the light on climate change, mental health, disability awareness, etc.) and so I really feel I am contributing some good into the world. I've had jobs before where I haven't felt that and it made me realise that it's really important to me.

What are the challenges?

Our brainstorming or development sessions can spontaneously come up, so I always need to have current and good television show ideas on hand. I do this by keeping up with trends and making notes as soon as anything resembling an idea comes into my head, because more often than not, once you mention the smallest fragment of an idea to someone else, they can help to expand on it.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I would like to have worked on a National Geographic documentary or a Netflix documentary. COVID-19 showed me that making too many big plans for too far away only leads to unneeded stress (travelling the world is out of the window). So I'm trying to live life week by week. With this job I couldn't have predicted it a few months ago and I had to be mentally ready to uproot my life at the drop of a hat and not have all these plans in the future that would affect it.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Work out exactly what you want to do. I was applying for jobs all over the film and TV industry for the longest time with no luck. When I decided what genre/types of companies I wanted to work for, I could tailor my CV and emails and express how much I wanted that job and why and that's when it worked for me.
  • Try and do as much work experience as possible in local companies when you're home from university in the holidays. Even if it's not the field you want to go into, you'll make contacts (add everyone on LinkedIn) and it will help you get your first job as it shows you have some experience.
  • Don't give up, you just have to keep applying. There's no rush, get a flexible job while you're looking, in a bar etc. and then any work in your chosen field is a bonus.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page