Magdalena Velkova joined us at the beginning of August 2017 as a part of a partnership between Birmingham City University and Slinky Productions.  A Bulgarian national, Maggie waved her country goodbye to seek her fortune in the UK.   After completing her first two years of studying BSc Film Production and Technology, she is now a proud member of the Slinky team for the following 12 months.

She has a variety of duties ranging from office work to camera assisting on shoots. Below, Maggie gives her tips for finding a placement in the media industry and looks over her past 3 months at Slinky Productions.

Photo of Magdalena Velkova having lunch at Edenhouse Solutions, thinking about beans on toast and tea with milk.

Why a placement year?

Even before jumping into my first year at university, I knew it was going to be a challenging experience. However, I was not even barely prepared – new city, new people, new country, new university – that’s quite a bit to keep up with. I not only had to get used to uni life (and taking care of myself) but to a bizarre new culture involving drinking tea with milk and eating beans on toast (both of which I have come to appreciate)!

As the first year slipped by, I realised just how much of university you need to do by yourself – getting books from the library and going to lectures was purely not enough – it wasn’t about what you know, but about what you can do.

Having that in mind, it’s time to mention the elephant in the room – EXPERIENCE – having a first class degree will just get you to the door but having first-hand experience – that’s what opens it. As good as my course is I needed that extra push to get me where I wanted to be. Therefore, I decided that I would take a placement year in the industry and there my journey began.

Going on an adventure?

I’m tempted to skip forward to why I chose Slinky Productions but looking for a placement was more of a bumpy ride than I expected – getting straight from A to B is just not the case! So here are my top tips for anyone, who is looking for an internship in a thriving media company.

Magdalena Velkova on her first shoot for Slinky productions holding a boom pole.

1. Research, research, research

Wherever you study, all University courses are undoubtedly brilliant for one thing – they teach you how to dig down to the most remote ends of the internet to find information, usually in limited time (yes, we have all done at least one all-nighter). What you first need to do is to figure out what you want to learn most from the job – do you want to be a director, sound supervisor, producer or operate the camera?

After that, choose an area – it could be your hometown (London, Birmingham). However, be realistic and gather as many companies as you can. Pick the ones that offer placements and the ones you are particularly interested in. In addition to looking online you can find different lists of companies in catalogues and yellow pages – it’s really worth the effort as not many people do it. Don’t just aim at the biggest companies – smaller ones also have a lot to offer.

Magdalena Velkova assisting on shoot for Aston business school.

2. Cover letter and CV

Online materials of how to write your CV and job and interview techniques are all over the place. Sometimes they even contradict each other, so what I would suggest is – go to the good old library and get 2-3 books about CV and cover letters.

Make sure they are up to date. Read them, get the gist and write a quick draft. Then re-read them and adjust your CV and cover letter accordingly. The last step is to make it personal – sending a generic CV and cover letter will get you nowhere. Make yourself a match for the company you want to work for!

3. Find the best balance between quality and quantity

Don’t take too long to finish an application but, again, never ever send a generic one. Also, always try to research the company’s aims and goals so you can make yourself a good fit for them.

4. Be fearless
It’s better to send an application than to just exclude a company because you don’t have the needed experience or they require too much. After all – it’s always worth trying.

5. Timing
Most bigger companies will announce vacancies quite early on. However, it is good to start applying from the beginning of the year until the last months before the new academic year – this is when you have a higher chance and less competition. Make applying for jobs part of your routine. Being persistent here will take you far.

Send subjective applications as well – they don’t always get a response but you never know what opportunities are hiding just an email or a call away.

Why did I choose Slinky?

I had my eyes on Slinky since the beginning of my second year at university as they were offering 1-3 days runner opportunities. As I was researching the website I found out that they offer full-year production internship program but the applications weren’t yet opened so I kept it in my records and waited for an opportunity, while applying for other jobs.
The difference between Slinky and the other companies I applied for was that it was just about the right size for me – not too big and not too small, so I could be a valuable member of the team. After I applied in May they contacted me and I had a wonderful first impression on my interview as they were willing to answer all my questions in a very detailed way (which I believe is very important when you hire an intern).

Magdalena Velkova directing a video at Parkside Media House in Birmingham.

Furthermore, as I was preparing for the interview I had a look at the website and I was able to gather all the needed information and research the professionals I would be learning from. I believe Slinky was the right place for anyone looking for a placement as one is able to help in every aspect of video production from pre- to post- and be a valuable part of the team as the company gathers professionals that offer a lot you can learn from. If you would like to read more about an intern’s duties at Slinky click here.

What have I learnt so far?

As my first 3 months have passed now I am happy to say that I made the best decision for myself. I managed to develop my production and editing skills, as well as my perception of how business works. I have become much more confident in dealing with clients. By watching how productions develop at Slinky I will take away a greater understanding of matching creative outlook with client requirements. This is something I will take away when working on my own future productions.

It has been a pleasure working for Slinky over the past three months and I feel that a year in this company will get me where I want to be.

Magdalena Velkova
Photo of a caucasian girl (Magdalena Velkova) with a canon 7D in a neutral environment.