Following on from the previous post about the ideal qualifications for getting work in television, we now pass on some information we gleaned from a little poll we conducted recently. Nothing particularly scientific and certainly not wide-ranging but 25 potential employers in the television and recruitment business responded to the following question:
Are you more likely to employ a TV runner with a media degree than one without?
43% answered: No – don’t care which degree subject
17% answered: Yes.
40% answered: Not bothered about degree qualification.
And here are some of the comments from those who responded:
Alison, Executive Coach:
“I have hired people both with and without media degrees. I have had the pleasure of working with three people who (by coincidence) studied at the same university and they are the only three people I have worked with who have a media degree who have any idea how a film set works – who’s who, responsibilities and etiquette! Generally I have found that a media degree does not equip a graduate to work on a film set (ie drama) any more than any other degree. However, that is not to say that they will not learn essential skills if they want to work in factual or docs”.
Tony, MD at an independent Film & Television company:
“It is more often the case that graduates get the jobs and some of those may have a media degree. However it is just as likely that graduates with a more academic qualification and desire will win through. It always depends on general ability, willingness to contribute and passion and this could just as well come from somebody not suited to further/higher education”.
Phil, TV documentary producer:
“I would definitely go for runner with media degree as it demonstrates a strong desire and commitment to wanting to work within TV (media). With so many people wanting to get into the industry there’s no point in taking on and training up somebody who hasn’t got clear direction and motivation”.
Helen, TV Executive
“I vote for willingness, and if they could use a camera and had edited material then so much the better, media degree or no…”
To put this in perspective consider this:
Most television work is on short term contracts – generally the length of whatever production the company is crewing up for, which could be three, six, maybe nine months on average. Someone looking for a runner is looking for just that and nothing else. They are not looking to employ someone they can nurture for years to come, someone they consider capable of growing with the company to producer or director level – not unless they are the BBC or another major production and broadcasting company. So they are generally only looking for the sort of skills and qualification that suit the job they are recruiting for at that time.
They are not looking at your CV with a view to what you will become but what they want you to be right now, right here on this specific production.
There is a quite possible a generational difference going on here as well. Degrees in media studies have been around for a while but only really started sprouting in the 1980’s and probably became really popular in the 90’s. So my guess is the vast majority of TV employers over the age of 45, if not 40, won’t have a degree in media studies themselves. Many people have a tendency to employ people similar to themselves – with similar backgrounds – and if the person interviewing you didn’t have a degree in media they’re quite possibly thinking you don’t need one either!
Just my theory….. and if I’m right then a few years down the line, when the media studies graduates have taken over us television dinosaurs (sorry, I meant us television legends!) in making those recruitment decisions, then a media studies qualification may start to become more valued!
Whaddya think? Leave a comment below if you have a view, would love to hear from you – any of you!
And here’s the last post on this subject in case you missed it: http://wanttoworkintelevision.com/2011/08/25/do-you-need-a-degree-to-get-into-television/