Our media studies courses offer a four-week industry placement – but what’s it really like and how does it work? Tom Eldridge, who took his placement at the university, spoke to fellow students Monica, Doona, Mariam and Mia and about their experiences in industry, answering the questions you want answered!
What media courses does the University of Brighton offer?
- Media Studies BA(Hons)
- Media Production BA(Hons)
- Music Business and Media BA(Hons) (brighton.ac.uk)
- Creative Industries BA(Hons) (brighton.ac.uk)
What would you say are the benefits of taking a placement?
One of the main benefits of a placement is the industry and life experience. Monica Amey-Hills, who spent her placement period as a Production Assistant at Nice Media, said “I think the main benefits are definitely having that real-life experience, making mistakes and learning from them, and learning from people around you that are in the business.” She also said that she thinks it’s important to state that placements are meant to be a learning experience and not knowing the correct answers at the start is very much expected.
Doona, who worked at Lowkey Films, said they “got to see how [the industry] really works and the placement helped develop my confidence in a professional environment.”
And Mariam Shobowale, who worked at Walk of Life Films, added that “understanding the working environment was a big benefit.”
How does the placement differ from university work?
Placements are typically full-time employment for a set period of time (usually 2-4 weeks) which is a huge change from the timetable a university degree works to. The alteration in pace can be overwhelming for some, and empowering for others.
Some students may find working life easier to slip into with the structure, formality and teamwork that usually comes with employment, in comparison to studying and writing essays independently.
This isn’t to say you’re going to be crammed with work 9-5 every day for the duration of your placement. Monica says, “I was given a manageable number of tasks on the placement. It wasn’t too overwhelming, there wasn’t pressure on me because obviously they understood that on a placement you’re constantly learning. You’re not an employee. You’re not expected to know everything.”
Doona added, “I was doing admin and research most of the time and I really loved it. My responsibilities were related to film and it was fun for me. I preferred it compared to doing essays!”
Employment experience is a completely different setup and vibe to university and is so important to gain alongside your academic achievements so that you’re well-equipped to enter the world of work.
What do you wish you knew about placements before you started?
Monica said, “at the time, I was very much focused on going to a really cool company. I wanted to go to a big production company and I wanted to, you know, tell people the really well-known, big name of where I was going.
“But I actually think that going for the more local and smaller companies can be so much more beneficial because they’ve got the time to teach you. Big companies (from what I’ve heard from other people that did placements with bigger production companies) can give you tasks that are a bit more tedious or random stuff whereas the little companies can put more time into teaching you.”
“This is not to say you shouldn’t challenge yourself with applying for the household names/brands, but more of a notice to ask for a detailed role description before agreeing to join the company for a placement. Students who undertook their placement with a smaller company often retain a positive relationship and are offered subsequent paid experience as a result!
Mariam recommended, “doing the research and not leaving it to the last minute” which I think will resonate with almost every student when it comes to finding a placement. Researching company is a crucial stage of the process as it can help you identify what sort of work environment you want to aim for, as well as what tasks you want to be doing.
Monica added that when you are mid-placement, “just always think ahead and be prepared. Have a plan B for all situations and try to stay calm. Think on your feet a little bit.”
Doona said, “You don’t have to be anything that you’re not in order to get on with the people you’re on a placement with.” She emphasised the point by advising students to be their usual self and make it an organic integration into the team. Placement is all about finding your likes and dislikes in the workplace, so go in with the mindset of ‘will this company suit me?’ not, ‘will I suit this company?’”
What is the support like from the university?
Finding a placement can be daunting. From researching and contacting companies via email and telephone, getting your CV and cover letters industry ready and learning how to interview, you’re not alone in the struggle and the university has lots of support options to help you at every step of the way.
Take a look at the placements webpage to find out who to contact regarding placement support. If you can’t spot your course on the list, your dedicated team for 1-2-1s and CV support are the central careers team and you can contact them on email@example.com.
Although the university offers support and must sign off the health and safety of your destination company in order for you to go out on placement, it is always the students’ responsibility to source their own placement. Monica says, “I think the whole point of going on the placement is to gain a bit of independence and that’s why trying to arrange the placement yourself is important.”
Many of my interviewees credited the valuable help they received from careers and placement teams. Monica said, “The university and the placements team were really helpful and friendly and super supportive.”
So what’s it really like out there?
Every student interviewed said they enjoyed their placement and would recommend going on a placement even if the module is optional.
I asked “Did you enjoy your placement and would you recommend other students to do it?” Mia Vidamour, who went to Dantani, said “Yes! Definitely. I think it’s really good – it’s a ‘nothing to lose’ experience almost.” Monica added “I think if it’s not compulsory then you should still do a placement if you are able to because even if you don’t end up working there after university, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll make connections and you’ll get advice from people as well.”
Finally, I would recommend taking a read through the University of Brighton Graduate Attributes. These are a set of qualities and characteristics that you will ultimately hold when you graduate after undertaking academic study, professional development, industry experience and personal progress, so you’ll feel confident and ready to get the most out of your future.