West Ham, Former Students and Industry Links – Media Lecturer Nik Reflects on Successes

A question often asked by parents or guardians of prospective students who are considering media as an option is “Are there any jobs in media and will my son/daughter end up with a career?” – said with an air of scepticism.

My answer is always the same – “It’s a fiercely competitive industry to get into, but it’s one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and as a result the opportunities are there. With hard work and the skills required your son/daughter can go on to have a successful career in an industry that is loved by all those who work within it”.

Within the media department at Farnborough College of Technology, we have a fantastic reputation within the industry of producing students who have the skills, knowledge and approach to work that means they are employable and our record speaks for itself.

The reason I have decided to put pen to paper to write this article follows an evening at the football that filled me with a sense of pride. As a season ticket holder at West Ham I ventured up to the Olympic Stadium to watch my team face Manchester United. I was already aware that one of my team was working at the game. Media and Film Lecturer Leigh Alner was working for IMG, a global leader in sports, events and media and as I took to my seat I spotted Leigh pitch-side, just behind the goal armed with nothing but a tripod and camera desperately trying to avoid being hit by balls whizzing past at 100mph as the players warmed up. This was a sight to behold and one that made for the best pre-match entertainment I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing for many a year!

After a customary wave session we agreed to meet up after the game for a quick coffee. On the final whistle before I left the stadium I noticed an large interactive screen being wheeled around the touchline when I noticed that I recognised one of the men involved. It was indeed Peter Smith, a former graduate of ours who completed the Level 3 BTEC Media course before going on to complete the Media Production degree with us. Peter now works for Telegenic, a company who we are developing stronger relations with and who are at the forefront of one of the broadcast industry’s most demanding fields of operation – outside broadcast! Peter is also now employed by the College as our TV Studio maintenance contractor.

Whilst waiting for Leigh outside the media centre I was enjoying the peace and quiet of a fan-free stadium when I looked down at the media car park where the outside broadcast vans are parked up only to spot ‘Sargasso’, one of the new breed OB vans owned by NEP Visions, another global leader in this field. The College enjoys a very good relationship with the Bracknell-based organisation, taking students for an annual visit to their fabulous ‘Student Open Days’. On the last event before Christmas one of the panel members in one of their discussions was Paul Halliwell, another former graduate of the Media Production degree here. Eventually Leigh arrived with a much needed coffee and while we were chatting Leigh was explaining to me that his boss at IMG, James Ledlie, who was also working at the game was also a graduate from our degree programme 9 years ago. James had been talking about recent work when he mentioned he’d just worked with yet another one of our degree graduates who works in special effects in films. This was Tom Costa, who the College employed for one year after his graduation as our First Step Coordinator.

Leigh can be seen in the centre of this photo next to the blue tarpaulin

As I was on the train home it dawned on me what had just happened. I had experienced an evening which consolidated all of the thoughts and passion for the work I, and we, as a media department do. Our lecturers are still involved and in-touch with the industries we represent so that we can pass on real-life skills and experience to our students and most importantly, our students go on to work in industry and are visible everywhere. When anyone visits SKY you cannot come out without having bumped into former students, we have students working at NEP, Telegenic, IMG, The Jewellery Channel, Eagle Radio, BBC Radio Surrey, Talks Sport, Virgin Radio, Heart FM to name just a few.

In the last month we have just launched a ‘Hall of Fame’ in the media department. Here we have pictures of some of our successful students to show future students that there is a career for waiting for them. Since installing the Hall of Fame we already have a growing list of former students we need to add, once we have some more frames they will become part of what is an ever growing alumni of media students who have gone on to enjoy a great career in their chosen media industry.

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