The Alumni Panel was part of our successful Career Focus Day in February.
A group of our successful graduates returned to Futureworks to provide current students with the benefit of their experience.
Our esteemed Alumni panel comprised Matt Tennant (BBC), Demonét Stapleton-Rawlins (videographer), Verdiana Saint Armour (sound designer and music editor), Caoimhe Roddy (game producer) and Ben Cozens (film sound designer and editor). They were joined by around 30 students in a relaxed forum moderated by Futureworks’ Employability and Industry Co-ordinator, Pete Jenkinson.
It was a fascinating session as the professionals first told the students how they had made the transition from college to working life. For example, Demonét had started working on his first professional assignments while still at Futureworks, while Matt mentioned how important extra-curricular activities and projects had been in getting him ‘through the door’ at the BBC. Ben recounted how, because of the way Futureworks is set up, even though he was an audio student, he gained some experience of animation packages and this really helped as he moved into his chosen field of audio for animation.
A wide range of topics were covered during the ninety minute discussion, including what advice the panel would give to current students. They all agreed that students should make the most of the facilities at Futureworks and throw themselves into projects with other students. Ben stressed the importance of building a good portfolio and Verdiana gave the sage advice that it was essential to be enthusiastic, communicative and interesting when meeting new industry contacts.
All Futureworks courses entail a good deal of team work and when questioned about this, the panel felt that this was excellent preparation for industry although they may not have realised how important it would be at the time. Caoimhe stated that the networks and connections she made as a student at Futureworks became very useful for the first few years of her career. This sentiment was echoed by most the panel. Matt remarked that developing good communication skills is essential in the creative industries.
The discussion moved on to the most effective means of self-promotion. Matt said that a good LinkedIn profile was useful if it was linked to showreels and portfolios. He also reminded everyone that potential employers WILL check your social media profiles! Verdiana stressed the importance of meeting people face to face and also having a website with a current showreel. Caoimhe had successfully used twitter and events and also believed in the importance of meeting people at industry events. Ben also extolled the virtue of a well linked website, but said that there was no substitute for face to face meetings at events. That’s how Ben met the director of the highly impressive ‘Blues Crab’ animation film that he worked on (see more about that here).
The students found the event enjoyable and informative and and it was great to see our successful graduates connecting with our current students. So thanks to Matt, Demonét, Caoimhe, Verdiana and Ben for coming along!