Persistence and Passion – Getting into Television

Alesya Capelle

Alesya Capelle

Alesya Capelle graduated in BA English from the University of Exeter, Penryn in 2016. She talked to us about getting a start in one of the toughest industries out there. 

After graduating with a degree in English Literature I had bounced around between what I thought were the right career options for someone with a background in humanities. I spent months contemplating an MA as well as careers in law, journalism and teaching before realising that I was focusing on what I could do rather than what I wanted to do. I knew that my degree would compliment those career choices, and that I would be capable within those roles, but it all felt as though I was settling rather than pursuing.

“I remember sitting at the front of a lecture during a television careers fair, listening to the list of difficulties I would face in the industry, and looking around to see hundreds of other people who, just like me, were competing for the scraps of entry level jobs thrown at us.”

After deciding to meet and obtain advice from a BBC TV researcher and producer, working in television gradually became more and more of a desirable option. It perfectly combined my creativity with my ability to find unique angles to stories and my love for writing and research. It was a path that automatically excited me, but also one that I hesitated to pursue in fear of rejection. The more I researched working in the world of television, the more I wanted it, but I also came to realise how difficult it was to even start at the bottom in such a competitive industry. I remember sitting at the front of a lecture during a television careers fair, listening to the list of difficulties I would face in the industry, and looking around to see hundreds of other people who, just like me, were competing for the scraps of entry level jobs thrown at us.

Despite feeling as though the skills I had acquired from university would help me to some degree, I was frequently reminded that my successes in higher education would mean nothing in my attempts to enter the industry. Over time I started to lose confidence and I hadn’t even applied for anything yet. I was to try and obtain entry level jobs but from my point of view, everybody would apply for them and everybody would seem the same – inexperienced, passionate about working in television, and willing to do anything for that first door to open. I couldn’t imagine appearing any different in a pile of thousands of one-page CVs and four-line cover letters. That was until I came across a training scheme that filled me with hope.

“I was finally given the opportunity to sell myself and my abilities, and the application process is testament to the supportive and encouraging nature of the scheme itself.”

The application for MAMA Youth Project’s Training Programme, a scheme providing free training for young people to both learn and gain hands-on experience working on Sky TV content, was refreshingly welcoming. Instead of asking me to forward them my CV and a ‘brief’ cover letter, MAMA Youth Project invite applicants to be honest about the barriers they have faced acquiring jobs in the industry, to share their goals, the reasons behind their passions, life challenges they have faced and, finally, to propose a detailed idea for the television show that candidates would be working on. I was finally given the opportunity to sell myself and my abilities, and the application process is testament to the supportive and encouraging nature of the scheme itself.

“It was so important to find an application process that genuinely restored faith and gave me the opportunity to express and articulate myself and my passions.”

After weeks of learning everything there was to know about the company, the life history of each team member and the TV show itself, I fell more and more in love with MAMA Youth Project’s Training Programme and how much it suited someone like me. I had it in my head that if I didn’t get a place I would apply again and again until they finally gave me one. I dedicated all my time to working towards this rare opportunity and after three application stages, including an intense seven-hour group interview, I was accepted onto the scheme as a Trainee TV Researcher and I am counting down the days until I start.

It wouldn’t be wise to advise people to limit what they apply for, but it was so important to find an application process that genuinely restored faith and gave me the opportunity to express and articulate myself and my passions. Even more inspiring was finding a scheme, opportunity and company that was suited to me as an individual, and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t feel so positive about my future as I do now.

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