Broadcast Media 2009
We caught up with Heather in early 2011
Which year did you graduate?
I graduated in February 2009 (I left Brighton in May 2008).
What are you doing now in your career, how did you get there, and what are your next steps (if you feel able to say at this stage)?
I am currently working as Production Co-Ordinator at MTV Asia on ‘World Stage’ - I have just landed my dream job and still can’t quite believe it. When I was younger there were only two places I wanted to work. They were for the BBC on ‘Eastenders' and for MTV – I’ve now done both.
I feel I got to MTV by being persistent, working hard, making cups of tea, asking questions and also keeping in contact with a wide range of people I’ve met along the way - you never know who will put you forward for your next job.
I left the UK to move to Singapore as I felt there were better work opportunities abroad (plus Singapore's media and digital industries are both growing at a very fast rate).
I got the interview at MTV Asia by complete chance - I came across a very old MTV website, emailed a few people whose emails where still there and my CV was passed to the head of content and who is now my boss. I have only been in the job a few weeks, its hard work with long hours but I'm meeting new people, travelling to new places and I wouldn't have it any other way.
As for my next steps – my MTV contract ends in November, I hope to be kept on a longer contract where I can be trained up at MTV. Once I have MTV on my CV I hope that I can head to OZ or America to work - that is the dream!
Can you describe how your ambitions altered as a result of studying here?
I was in the first year that the Broadcast Media Course started, my main worry was that the course had no previous track record or older students to aspire to. When I started UCH I had already dropped out of University the year previous and I knew that I HAD to make things work, I wanted to work in no other industry but the media industry and I felt that when I dropped out with no degree or contacts doors weren't open to me anymore, no matter how many placements I done (Cosmogirl!, The Ealing Gazette & Non-Stop PR).
When I studied at UCH I was able to get an insight into various areas of the media industry and through those two years I was able to hone in on my strengths and weaknesses - I knew by the end of my degree I wanted to go into television and who I needed to contact. UCH and the lecturers prepared me in advance for that, I had a sample of Radio Production, Script Writing and TV Production just to name a few.
Through my time at UCH I became more focused on where I wanted to go, how I wanted to get there after graduation and have fun whilst doing it - it's always fun on your way to the top isn't it?!
Do you feel that you approach your career differently as a result of studying here?
My approach to my career is very different after studying at Brighton, I didn't quite know at 19 where I wanted to specialize in before starting the Broadcast Media Course. I was able to learn a lot about myself, develop new skills, converse with industry professionals - I then knew if I worked hard enough and kept knocking on doors someone would have to hire me... eventually!
Brighton renewed both my confidence and determination for working within the industry - I didn’t want a 9-5 job, I wanted to travel, meet new people and enjoy my job.
I've been lucky to have worked on some amazing projects and that’s a direct result of being a student at Brighton University.
Were there any staff who particularly inspired you, and why?
I was inspired in my first year and have been since by Joanna MacDonnell.
I made sure the second time I met with Jo to mention that I would love to do ANY work experience on offer, I'd make tea and really wanted to convey to Jo how eager I was to learn the ropes as a runner. Jo was able to get me my first running job during the summer after finishing my first year which held me in good stead when leaving University as I then had contacts and a credit already on my CV.
At the time I wanted to work my way from being a runner to eventually a First Assistant Director, I wanted to work hard in order to impress Jo - I loved listening to her stories, the people you meet, the hard you put in work but also the fun you have whilst working.
I am very lucky to have met Joanna MacDonnell. Since leaving University if I ever have had any questions, needed advice (and references) Jo has always been there for me.
I wouldn't be sat at my desk now, writing this testimonial from Asia without Jo's help and ongoing support.
Do you feel that gaining a degree from the University of Brighton in Hastings changed your life, and why?
The summer before starting Brighton, I had dropped out of University and worked 5 jobs (I kid you not - an estate agents, Miss Selfridge, a hair salon, babysitting & worked in the catering department at Ealing Cricket Club!)
Brighton changed my life as it introduced me to friends I WILL have for life. I met University lecturers who gave great advice and support as well as meeting actual industry professionals working within the industry - that I feel was key to the course, people working in the industry now.
Through my time at Brighton I gained new skills, realised where I wanted to go after graduation and best of all as it was a small class and a small university (growing all the time), it was very personal and if you ever needed help it was there. My two years in Brighton completely changed my life; I recommend and talk about Brighton all the time.
It honestly feels like I haven't left because I'll always have a part of Brighton with me. Is there anything you wish you’d done, or that you’d do differently, while at Brighton? I would have tried harder in my second year, looking back now that is my one and only regret at Brighton. I wasn't happy in my university housing and at that point I just wanted to get into the working world - which I was able to do so within two months of leaving University.
I had the most amazing two years and I owe it all to Brighton. I faced having to do running jobs for no money as I had no contacts after dropping out of London Met, however two years at Brighton University changed all that for me. I left with a bright future, friends for life and on-going support of the university lecturers - not every University can offer their students that can they?!