Into the Future: Media Careers and Networking Event, Birmingham Made Me, May 2014

The art of networking is a skill that needs rehearsal and practice. It does not come naturally to most of us, but is one of those ‘soft’ skills that really make a difference to our students’ employability at Birmingham City University. You can read about that collaborative development in our chapter, ‘Media Industries Beyond the Curriculum: Motivating Blended Professionalism for Enhanced Student Engagement and Employability’ (with Jamie Morris and Amie Hession) in Claus Nygaard et. al. (eds.), 2013. Student Engagement: Identity, Motivation and Community. Faringdon: Libri Publishing. 165-184.

Into the Future represents a student-driven, designed and organised networking event which featured student presentations and keynote discussion surrounding the future of the media. While student presentations featured their own media projections and ambitions within the industry, our invited industry experts offered their predictions for future developments in their respective media sectors.

Phil Riley, Head of Orion Media and recent Arqiva award winner, starred as one of the keynotes for our event.

Riley offered his insights to our students around the future of radio, highlighting for those with aspirations of radio presenting, “it’s no good simply being a voice on a stick!” Instead he raised the importance of being good at things other than the radio as key for the development of the radio industry because “Playing records is not enough!”

Setting the challenge for Birmingham School of Media students to extend their game plan to include a range of media expertise, Riley pinpoints an industry shift in which “The range of skillsets that we need is rapidly expanding”, and as such, warns against students restricting themselves uniquely to radio production skills alone.

This advice was a common theme of the day, with the ability to multi-skill and operate cross-media being a recurrent advice topic for our aspiring media professionals. Acting on the advice from our close industry networks, our BA (Hons) Media and Communication offers the opportunity to do just that and, through a process of cross-media practice, students are encouraged to produce work which builds upon and combines their creative media talent in distinct areas of production.

(c) Richard Battye

(c) Richard Battye

Richard Battye, Birmingham-based Photographer, offered the challenge of thinking creatively to our students. With an impressive range of photographic skills to showcase, Battye encouraged our students to be creative in their camera work to work on their composition in camera in order to be creative in the capture, rather than to rely on after-effects. The ‘creative media thinker’ is a key part of our mantra within the School of Media, but somehow this is more powerful for our students when they hear this coming from experts out in industry.
This challenge for creative approaches to media industry practice was similarly reinforced by Jason MacKenzie, MD of Liquid PR, the challenge for the future was one of the relentless development and turnover of social media tools and trends, and the need for the PR professional to be ahead of the game in all of them. While maintaining that the craft skills for a career in PR will remain essentially the same, he identified the future as being decidedly digital, alerting our fired-up aspirational PR professionals that their responsibility was to develop big, creative ideas with an emphasis upon professional relationship-creation in a way that integrates existing PR practices and processes in a way that has never been possible before. Challenge set.
Jason MacKenzie, Liquid PR

Jason MacKenzie, MD Liquid PR

Highlighting the possibilities offered up by Big Data and the potential for precision audience micro-targeting through a proliferation of channels and tools, MacKenzie pin-points the current trends offered up by social media and digital content through an emphasis and increase in measurement potential and ROI offered up for those with an understanding of how to utilise that analytic data in a responsive and productive fashion. Challenge accepted.
As aspiring media professionals, the craft skills are just that, the keys to their craft and the opportunities that this affords them. Beyond that, the future is what our students make of the cross-media practice and creative approaches that they acquire throughout their time with us. As reactive and adaptive future creative professionals, our students went on to present their own critical media engagement work at the Into the Future event through a presentation showcase of the unique skillsets and talents acquired as they move to enter their final year of undergraduate study.
Sophie Lucken Presents: Music Industries Creative

The Into the Future event offered our students the opportunity to position themselves as creative professionals and to present themselves as the future creative media thinkers currently being demanded by the media industry.

Hardeep Dhadda Presents: Radio Professional Expertise

With many students opting to present their dissertation ideas for their final year as a showcase of their aptitude for challenging thought, these were frequently aligned with their preferred production areas of choice, adding further cement to their position as creative media thinkers, and not just craft workers.

As a course that embeds work experience and placement activity from the moment our students arrive, the BA (Hons) Media and Communication course at the Birmingham School of Media prepares our students for a career in which they are expected to work cross-media, through which we nurture the value of collaboration, the art of networking and the practice of professional self-branding. This makes for some exciting opportunities for our students, which they largely create for themselves as they are empowered to seek out contacts and networks in their own specialist areas of interest.

Perhaps nowhere was this sense of confident professionalism more telling than in the vibrant and energetic presentation by former School of Media Masters student, Selina Brown. As the CEO of Creative High and founder of Little Miss Creative, Selina offered an authentic account of how the skills will give you the edge, but success comes down to damn hard work.
Selina Brown

Selina Brown, CEO Creative High

In addition to advise from industry professionals, students were also offered ongoing career breakthrough advice by our in-house media careers expert, Caroline Thorley. She highlighted the wide range of careers advice and support available. Furthermore, as second year students, they were also fortunate to receive bespoke guidance on future degree level study options in creative entrepreneurship by our resident Cultural Entrepreneur expert, Annette Naudin.

The Into the Future event was a student-led and organised event, which featured as a part of the Birmingham Made Me 2014 programme of events.

For further activity from the day, check out the student managed Twitter account: @_IntoTheFuture

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