It’s now official. I’ve had my application for voluntary redundancy accepted and on April 14th I’ll be leaving the company I’ve worked at for the last seven years. All sorts of emotions are rattling around inside me – excitement, fear, relief, sadness, trepidation, bewilderment and anxiety. It is, I think, mostly a good thing. It could turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever done. But for the first time in a very long time I’m forced to have a long hard think about what I have to do with my life.
For as long as I’ve known, since before I started primary school, I’ve wanted to work in broadcasting. When I was five years old I went on a tour around BBC Television Centre, and it was probably the happiest day of my whole childhood. Everything I was doing was set on a course towards a career in the industry, I did work experience at a now long-defunct production company, studied A-Levels in Media, Film and English Language and was looking into which universities had the best media courses. And then my life took a major detour, I fell in love, and spent nearly two years living in the Philippines, without a doubt the best two years of my life. When I returned, I had to find a job quickly, and after doing the usual thing of dropping my CV off at every production company in Soho, I got a job as a Christmas temp at the local Habitat store.
The temporary job quickly became a full-time job. I went through a few job titles during my time at the store, slowly climbing the ladder. While it wasn’t the dream career I’d always wanted, it paid the bills and I enjoyed working with a brilliant team, plus I took some pride from working with some beautiful, well-designed products. The opportunity came up to apply for a role at head office, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last five years. Ostensibly an admin job based around making sure orders arrive on time and analysing deliveries, it’s been really enjoyable as I’ve been involved in all sorts of things, from the technical stuff like testing and quality control to purchasing and price negotiations to having a little involvement with product development, plus I’ve gained a somewhat implausible reputation as some sort of expert on barcodes. Not only has the role given me five years of experience in all sorts of areas, but I’ve also worked with the best team in the business. (N.B. I’ve spent all day procrastinating on making a CV, and may have just subconsciously made a start on it in this last paragraph)
Now seems like the right time to finally make a start on that career in broadcasting I’ve always wanted. While the invitation to apply for voluntary redundancy was an obvious catalyst for this change in direction, I think the fact that I’m 30 next year has played just as much of a part in it. It feels like it’s now or never. I’ve made the decision to move away from the field I’ve spent years getting experience and contacts in and make a fresh start in something entirely different, but then what…? Despite a whole lifetime of wanting to work in television, I’ve not found the time to figure out exactly what it is I’d want to do.
I’ve definitely got a slightly unhealthy passion for the medium. But I’ve got no technical experience or qualifications, and no confidence in my own creativity. I’ve been trying to think about the sorts of things I’d like to do and I’m finding it impossible to pin down what path to take. There is nothing in the world like the buzz of a television studio, so I’d absolutely love to work in that kind of environment, either on the studio floor or in the gallery, but that’d require a heck of a lot of technical expertise I don’t currently have, plus I’d still need to narrow down what I want to do. I also find the presentation/continuity/playout area really interesting, but the same as above applies. I used to be not too bad at editing, but I’m really out of practice and there’s so much talent out there. I’m a news junkie but since I decided not to go to University I think the journalism ship has sailed for me. I enjoy writing, but it doesn’t seem to be the best career to get into if you want to stand a chance of earning any money, especially as, like I mentioned before, I don’t have a lot of self-confidence when it comes to that sort of thing. Basically put, I really need to figure out exactly what I actually want to do, and then find a way to do it.
My current strategy is to apply for the sort of admin/office based jobs in the industry where I can use my five years of experience, some of which look really interesting, while also applying for work experience and runner/general dogsbody roles where I can get experience and make contacts. But it all seems a little slapdash at the moment. I need to focus on exactly what I want to do, and whether that’s something I can get to from an entry-level position, low-paid jobs with a huge amount of competition, or whether I’d need to go on a course to get some technical qualifications, which might be expensive but could be very rewarding in the end.
Apologies for the self-indulgent blog post. I know there’s all sorts of helpful services out there, and I will get in touch with Skillset in the next week or so to talk through my options. Plus, a lot of friends have been incredibly kind and given me details of contacts in the industry who might be able to offer advice. I think I just needed to write this all down and get it off my chest! The weird thing is, I still really want to do this, despite having listened to Charlie Brooker’s sage advice: