Friday, 28 February 2014


Today I attended a session from the BBC Roadshow in Peckham. The event was run by Daniel Riches who is a Digital Engagement Manager and is currently trying to bring new media opportunities to us! He had Don Kong leading the session who is the BBC Trainees manager, along with two of his current Production Trainees, Brian and Rachel. Don, who coordinates entry level talent programmes said he likes to 'keep our output relevant to the audience', making sure it is diverse and not dominated by white middle class people who are stuck believing the best only come from 'Oxbridge'.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this event as I hadn't read much on it, I just knew it was on the BBC and that was good enough for me. When I arrived and saw Don there I was immediately glad I had come as we had previously spoken on Twitter and he gave me some great advice, so I was looking forward to what else he had to say. Ultimately the main topic was how to tackle the up and coming applications that are opening which was really enlightening as I don't know about you, but it appears I have been doing it all wrong!

Don began by explaining the different opportunities that will be available such as Production Talent Pool, where they will take on 100 people and the BBC basically act as an agency, having you on their books for when their shows need runners and they can select who they want from their list. However, this can range from a days work to six months work, it all depends on what is being shot at the time and of course, the location you are based. Then we have the Production Trainee Scheme where 12 lucky people are trained in TV and Radio and are put on three productions over a year, they have a mentor and are expected to relocate for one of the productions. Both PTP and PTS are open to all ages but the Production Apprenticeship is only for those aged between 18 and 23 without a degree. On the PA 15 young people will be there for a year getting fixed placements but with this you get the added bonus of working towards a Creative and Digital Media NVQ - But remember there is hard work involved in this! All three are paid and aimed at those with less than twelve months consecutive paid experience in production. 

Before you apply to any role at the BBC you have to create a Careers Hub profile - this is basically your online CV that they can look at once you are a part of the BBC... It doesn't even play a part in your application so don't worry about repeating yourself during you application and don't spend too much time on this when it isn't the main focus, well not yet!

The recruitment process goes:
  1. Online Application  
  2. Verbal Reasoning Test  
  3. Assessment Day and Interview
Online Application
This usually involves a question on 'Tell us why you'd be the ideal candidate?'. You need to really convey your passion for the industry here and what have you got to prove it? Give examples. Blog? Own a YouTube channel? Any experience? Don't make the same mistake of describing how resourceful or dedicated you are unless you can prove it. Use less adjectives, more verbs! 
Then follows a question usually based on your organisation and planning skills, where again you need to give a really detailed example of something you were involved in that needed a lot of attention to detail. What did you do? How? Demonstrate your abilities and skills. If in doubt use STAR - Situation, Task, Action, Result. This is a vital technique in interviews too. I have spoken about this before on my other blog: Interview 101 If you want to know more (or just Google as Google is your friend!).
Finally there will be a question based on the BBC and possibly what are they doing that could be improved? Now, I was not aware of this but it is apparently code for 'pitch us a program idea'. This can be TV or Radio and you should base it on your own experience, your background, people in your life, make it personal...Make it you. Don't be afraid to critique them either.

It should follow this guide:
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OR the other idea type question is based around what the BBC could do better to represent undeserved audiences, and this one can but doesn't necessarily involve a program pitch - it could be more general stuff like having more disabled people in their programmes, more women in panel shows, or less stereotyping of gay people, for example.

They will then cut roughly a third of the applications and send everyone else the 'Verbal Reasoning Test' this means you are one step closer to the goal. However, Brian and Rachel said this was one of the most intense exams of their lives. Lasting 45 minutes and each section has a time limit. Apparently nobody scores highly but those with the highest are taken through to the next stage. However, speed and focus are the key so their advice was practice, practice, practice. You only get one shot at this.
The Assessment day is done 16 people at a time. You have a morning of working as a team on program ideas exploring creativeness, media and audience awareness. Followed by an afternoon of lone interviews. Do your research on the BBC, what programs influence you? Break them down and analyse them. Make sure you are on top from from the moment you walk in the building - you never know who is watching!

Rachel and Brian gave us a lot of personal advice from the experiences they have had so far and it turns out Rachel, currently researching on 'The One Show', was one of us this time last year. She left uni with a film degree but went into teaching and Media played no role in her life. She found this #BBCGetIn event 8 years later taking all of Dons advice and is now on the scheme. Inspiring. Brian appears to have a gained a variety of work whilst being at the BBC, being continuity editor on 'Eastenders' and is about to head over to Radio2. His main point he put across seemed to be based on being nice. It isn't hard and it pays off... You get remembered and recommended. Any issues? Leave them at home. It's common sense but is constantly forgotten. Plus you never know who will be above you one day, you don't want to miss out on any opportunities because of a childish moment. He also had a great analogy: The Media industry is a small playground that everyone wants to play in. You have to climb high over the wall to get there, but once you are in, you're in. Something like that anyway! It was good!

I really enjoyed this event and it has definitely helped me and inspired me to go on and not give up! I hope it encourages you too. Thanks to everyone who put it on, you all had great advice, I imagine a lot of people will be thankful. I definitely recommend that you go to one of these events if you want to break into the industry. Don't depend on purely on the BBC apply everywhere there are a lot of Indie companies out there too. Good luck!

Applications open-close: PTP 3-17th   PTS 3-17th   PA 3-31st
Don't leave it until the last minute! I know I won't.

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