Grad Talks 2018

Hearing advice from people who have experienced the same things as you can be invaluable. Sometimes it’s something as simple as where to go on holiday, or what restaurant to go to, relationship advice, childcare advice. However, this advice is particularly welcome when we’re faced with big decisions and at pivotal moments in our lives. Especially when we’re still quite young and don’t feel like we know what we’re doing yet – or rather, we haven’t yet realised that we’ll never know what we’re doing!

This being said, the more information you have, the more guidance and advice we receive, we stand a better chance of knowing what we’re doing, which is why the annual Media Arts and Communications Grad Talk event at Sheffield Hallam is so important.

So, I should probably explain for those who aren’t sure what I’m on about, the Grad Talk is an annual event organised by Principal Lecturer Philo Holland, where graduates from the Media and Communications department at Hallam come back for the day to talk about their experiences, both at Hallam and since graduating. As a graduate I was excited to attend this year and speak about postgraduate education at Hallam and gaining experience whilst studying.

I spoke to Philo just after the Grad Talk about why he organises the event each year and what it means for students in the department. “When they hear recent graduates sharing their journey into work it gives them inspiration and reassurance. They see the value of their degree, the relevance of the skills they’re learning.”

It’s great to see everybody’s Tweets after the Grad Talk each year, everyone is full of motivation and high self-esteem, everyone goes away ready to update their CV, their LinkedIn, hunt for new experiences. I know I always came away with a list of things to do and remember. And in fact, I still do.

It was fantastic to be there, passing on my experiences and advice to undergraduate students, as well as hearing the experiences and advice from other graduates – even though I’ve graduated, it’s still relevant and still invaluable. And it was nice to recognise my University journey – the fact that for the past three years I’ve been sat on the other side, and this time I was sitting at the front! Some of the graduates I’d seen at past events, and some I hadn’t met before so, it was interesting chatting to them about their time at Hallam and what they’ve been up to since.

Oli Constable graduated from Journalism at Hallam in 2016, he now works as a broadcast journalist at BBC Radio Sheffield. “I sat in a lecture theatre two years ago, hearing the stories of the graduates. It made me realise that we weren’t just working towards a degree. Experience is key. You need to set yourself apart from the rest of the field. Getting into an office and talking to the people who do the job now is a great way to start. Being a friendly face will open more doors than you could imagine.”

Rachel Bower is a third year Media student who has just returned to Hallam after a placement year with Eurosport. “I loved having the opportunity to speak at the Grad Talk about placements, I know how hard and tedious it can be to find experience in the media industry. What I really wanted to show the students is not to take their University years for granted, take EVERY opportunity and create your own opportunities too.”

As an undergraduate Media student at Hallam, I went to the Grad Talks every year. Even if I felt I was doing my best, keeping on top of getting as much experience as possible, updating my CV, focusing on my short-term and long-term goals, there were always useful tips and advice – where to look out for jobs, how to answer difficult interview questions, using social media professionally etc. to boost my knowledge and confidence.

Top Tips from Grad Talks:

  1. Don’t panic in interviews, if you need to take a beat to answer a question well, or come back to the question in a while, then don’t worry about it.
  2. Get on social media and know how to use it effectively and professionally.
  3. Look for jobs but also ask about jobs – contact people you know and people you don’t know, apply for jobs that you think are out of your league.
  4. Don’t worry about having a long-term plan, try out different roles and organisations, find out what you enjoy doing.
  5. Experience, experience, experience!