5 tips for getting media work experience

Daniel Higginbotham, Editor
April, 2021

Increase your chances of gaining media experience by building a digital portfolio, making a showreel, learning how to start a blog or branching out as a vlogger or podcast host

Many students and graduates will be wondering how to get a job in the media with no experience. The answer is it's very difficult, unless you already have contacts.

To add to this, media internships and other work experience opportunities are typically snapped up by those who've showed initiative and are already working on digital projects in their free time.

Build a digital portfolio

There are many things to consider when putting together a creative portfolio, but if your heart's set on a media career, you'll need to demonstrate strong visual communication skills, ideally showcased through a digital platform - such as Behance or Weebly - that will store and share all of your best work.

It's fairly straightforward to create your own website for an online portfolio, even if your web design skills are only at the basic level. You will be supported through the design process when you use website builders such as Squarespace and Wix.

In order to come across as professional to potential employers, you should consider choosing a website domain that features your real name in some form.

The content displayed on the site will be determined by your area of specialism. For instance, you may be looking to get into video gaming and so could have a go at coding your own game.

As well as using the digital portfolio to show the work you can do, this is also a good place to host your video CV.

Start a blog

If you're a budding journalist, copywriter or editor, you may be interested in seeking out journalism internships with media organisations such as Sky or the BBC or considering relevant journalism courses. Whatever your long-term goal, blogging is an effective way to work on your tone of voice, writing style and editing.

A blog is simply a regularly-updated website which is usually written in an informal, chatty style and focused around an interesting topic. This can be anything from extreme sports and rock music to vegan recipes and fitness advice.

By writing your own posts, this not only allows your written voice to develop and mature, you'll learn how to tighten up your writing to best engage your readers. When uploading your blogs according to a carefully planned out schedule, you'll also be practising good timekeeping and organisation.

To monitor the performance of your blog, you could look into search engine optimisation (SEO) and use tools, such as Google Analytics, to discover what your audience is searching for and how to make sure your posts are being seen.

You don't have to financially invest in blogging - free hosting sites such as WordPress allow you to create a blog within minutes. And neither do you have to be an expert in coding and website design, as these sites offer a range of free website themes. However, your blog is a great platform to show these skills should you have them.

There are plenty of benefits to becoming a regular blogger - by networking with likeminded creators, this can provide a gateway to potential job and work experience opportunities. Media employers are more likely to take on interns who've already put themselves out there in the digital domain.

Become a vlogger

Vlogging - or video blogging - is becoming an increasingly popular form of content creating, especially with teenage audiences. Like blogging, vlogging is the sharing of topics, thoughts and opinions, but in video format

While it's possible to make money from vlogging, if it becomes very popular and goes viral - as has been the case with some YouTube vloggers who've become famous - this is rare and shouldn't be your only aim for creating one.

With a vlog, your viewers are seeking more condensed, vibrant content, as opposed to blog readers whose priority is informative, good-quality writing. By starting out as a vlogger, you'll sharpen your video editing and public speaking skills, while demonstrating your ability to identify what your viewers are looking for and present it in the most engaging way.

Filming a video is just one part of the vlogging process. You'll also need to learn how to frame and edit your videos creatively, publish them on a hosting site such as YouTube, and market yourself to your audience.

Vlogging can be done from anywhere, giving you the potential to feature a range of locations and discuss whatever you're truly passionate about. On a basic level, all you need to vlog is a camera with a working microphone (the camera on your smartphone is fine), editing software (many computers come with free editing software and editing apps are available to download to help with this) as well as access to the internet.

Only a fraction of high-profile vloggers are able to make a living through advertising revenue. However, the digital experience you'll gain shouldn't be underestimated. Indeed, an online portfolio of vlogs can still help you get a foot in the door to entry level graduate media jobs, if you're working towards becoming a film/video editor, television camera operator or broadcast presenter.

If you have singing ability or any musical talent with an instrument, you could also consider careers in music.

Launch your own podcast

For those passionate about radio presenting, you could start a podcast to develop your skills. A podcast is an on-demand series, delivered in the style of a radio broadcast and downloadable from hosting sites such as iTunes.

Launching a podcast is an easy way to gain valuable experience in a field where securing work experience placements, such as with local radio stations, is an increasingly competitive and difficult task. At the most basic level, all you'll need to get started is a computer with a built-in microphone, access to the internet and ideas or a theme for your podcast.

By starting a podcast, you'll refine skills essential to a career as a radio presenter, such as:

  • the technological aspects of the job, through audio editing and publishing podcasts online
  • effective scriptwriting - you'll learn the difference between writing a script to read directly from and a script to prompt a conversational tone
  • growing and engaging an audience.

Like all other content creators, you're not guaranteed to make money podcasting. Base your podcast around a topic you're genuinely interested in - you'll engage your listeners with your enthusiasm and find the experience more enjoyable.

Having a podcast could lead to a job as a radio broadcast assistant, broadcast journalist or broadcast presenter.

Make a showreel

Whether you're looking to get into acting, producing or broadcasting, a good video showreel (or sizzle reel) can convey the type of content that interests you, while it has the potential to leave a strong impression on recruiters you'd like to work for.

A showreel should effectively highlight your best work within one to three minutes. Within this short time, you'll need to grab the viewer's attention and keep it entertaining, fast-paced and engaging. Don't repeat any clips and try to create a compelling opening scene.

The final part is your opportunity to introduce a call to action (CTA), by providing your contact details so any interested parties can get in touch with you.

Once ready, it's important to consider the social media platform you'll be publishing it to as each has its own level of interaction - for example, LinkedIn is different to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as it's geared towards working professionals. Read more about creating effective social media accounts.

As many people will be watching it without sound (common for those using mobile devices) and to ensure it's widely accessible to all, it's a good idea to have subtitles. You should also refresh the showreel every six months or so to keep it up to date.

Demo showreels are a great way for TV and film actors, sports broadcasting hopefuls and those seeking radio work experience to demonstrate your talents and help you to get a work placement or secure an entry level role. If you're looking at getting into acting, take a look at the 7 skills you need to succeed in performing arts.

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