The Graduate Diaries: Jemma Hetherington

Name: Jemma Hetherington

Subject Studied: BA Journalism

University: University of Sunderland

Year Graduated: 2016

What is your new/current role?

Television researcher and production assistant.

What does that mean exactly? 

I research current programmes that we can do, write up briefs for broadcasters so that we can get commissions, write scripts for our current BBC programme, interview/cast for programmes, sort out the paperwork such as performance licence etc.

And on the shoots when I act as a production assistant I meet with the families/cast members, sort out budgets/accommodations, live logging on set, help cameramen with the equipment, sort out lunch, assist the producer and make sure everything runs smoothly.

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How long did it take you to get a job from Graduating?

I worked in my retail job for six months before getting the job I have now.

When you applied for the job, what was the application/interview process like? 

I sent in my website which has my portfolio of journalism/presenting, along with a CV and cover letter. I was invited for an interview and then a second interview before being told I had the job.

How long have you been working in your new job? 

I’ve now been in my job for eight months.

Did you think this is what you would be doing after you graduated?

It’s certainly what I hoped I’d be doing but I didn’t think I’d ever get something like this. I’ve been extremely lucky because I get to have 20 credits on Cbeebies at the age of 22 and that’s not something a lot of jobs in the industry can offer.

What have you learnt about yourself since working in your new role? 

I’ve certainly learned I talk a lot! Haha. In my job you have to make conversation with strangers across the world and have empathy for everyone. Television and journalism requires people skills and diving into people’s lives without intruding. I’ve also learnt I can be less anxious about things, I didn’t move away for university so travelling with a group of strangers for shoots was daunting at first but now I love being away and it just comes naturally.

Have you used your skills or learnt new ones during your time at your new job?

I’ve used my shorthand skills for live logging on shoots (although this isn’t essential), I’ve learnt how to write scripts, sit in a commissioning meeting and the paper work side of television. I guess I’ve learnt so much actually being on the job but taking a module in television at uni certainly helped.

Have there been any challenges/surprises ? 

The shoots can be very long which is a challenge when you’re running on no breaks, little sleep and 15 hour shifts. I was surprised how long the process of television is. A researcher is just the beginning of the process, there’s editors, graphic designers, sound composers, three execs that it has to get the go ahead from and one head of broadcast who gives the final go ahead.

And last of all, what advice can you give for Graduates who are looking for a job in their chosen industry?

I would say don’t give up even though it can be tough. Don’t let the thought of working a boring job until something comes along get you down. I had a couple of jobs interviews with different broadcasters across platforms before getting mine. And I’m so glad I got mine because I love working in TV. Definitely do something you’re passionate about and getting experience is key!

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