Tips on Getting Into the Media Industry – and Getting On Once You’re In!

By Julian Dismore, Direct Productions

Image of Julian with a large spider across his face, filming in Krakatoa
Julian filming in Krakatoa for Channel 4

Students hoping to get a job in the media industry – and runners, researchers and edit assistants just starting out – must feel like a fly caught in a spider’s web at the moment… stuck with a very uncertain future.

But there are things you can do, even in the middle of a pandemic! This is the ideal time to work on your contacts database…

The saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Well it’s both in the media industry – but who you know is particularly important. Contacts can help you get your first job. And they can help you get better jobs after that. So how do you make contacts? Well the first challenge is finding them… 

Sourcing Contacts: Six Top Tips 

  1. Be Alert! Contacts are all around you. If you’re a student and have any sense you’ll be heavily involved in a University TV Society, hospital radio station or student newspaper. It’s likely one of your peers has been able to secure some work experience. Ask your contact for their contact. But make sure you repay the favour at a later stage – it’s all about keeping your sources sweet! 
  2. Ask around! Normally someone you know knows someone. Your mum’s hairdresser’s cousin’s dogwalker’s friend is a potential contact – if they work in the media. So is someone in the media who went to your college, university or school at some point in the last fifty years. Track them down and befriend them!
  3. Be organised! Create a table in Word or Excel for your contacts with their name, title, e mail and phone number (yes you will probably have to try speaking to them to get on their radar) and their ‘status’ ie when you last contacted them, what happened etc. This table should evolve as you find and get in touch with more contacts. In about forty years’ time it should be massive!
  4. Watch the credits on the TV programmes you like!  Keep an eye out for the following people; the producer, the series producer, the head of development and the production manager. These are potential contacts, but you need to watch out for the name of the production company at the end of the credits so you can track them down using tip 4…
  5. Mine the internet! All the major media companies have easy to find websites. The potential contacts from tip number 3 may be on there. The website will also probably have a recruitment or work experience email address on the home page. Send in your CV – just don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer! And LinkedIn is a very useful people finding site. You can get enhanced membership for free for a month which allows you send out loads of contact requests – do it! The more seeds you sow, the more chance you have of blooming!
  6. Read trade papers and magazines like “Broadcast”! The articles in these trade papers will feature the key players in the industry. There will also be stories about companies which have just got programme commissions and may need staff. Once you have names and companies, you have all the info you need if you’re a good ‘contact detective’. It’s email time – when the time is right (ie when media production starts in earnest again)

In the meantime accumulate contacts, organise them in a table – and wait for your moment to pounce!

I will be giving more tips about how to get into the Media Industry – and how to get on once you’re in, during a Free Instagram Live workshop coming up soon

For more tips follow Julian on social media…