Create your own work experience: tips for entering the video industry without placement experience

Today we’re talking about how students can get creative about work experience – it doesn’t always need to be through an employer. Dominic Sutherland, our guest blogger is the Managing Director of NextShoot, a corporate video production company in London that makes business video content for well-known brands.

Ariel shot of a man and a woman holding two cups of coffee on a round coffee table.
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

No work placement? No problem!

While it’s ideal for anyone applying for jobs in the video production sector to have industry-specific work experience on their CV, the reality is that it’s not always possible. The good news is that there are other effective ways of demonstrating your suitability for the video production sector on your CV without a work placement.

Employers in the video production sector are looking at candidates’ CVs to judge a number of different factors. Of course, your exam results speak to your vocational skills and your ability to perform under pressure. Work experience, however, sends out a different set of signals: about your initiative and drive in securing a hard-to-find placement, and the real-world experience you will have gained from it.


Coursework and hobby-based experience

First of all, if you stop to think about the skills you would learn during an internship, you can draw out those same attributes from your university coursework – say a filming project – or even a hobby that you may have. It’s worth framing these on your CV as you would work experience, highlighting your proven abilities such as team-work, delivering to tight deadlines, and budget management.

While coursework and hobbies offer an opportunity to explore your relevant skill-set, my recommendation would always be to get your own industry-relevant passion project off the ground. The candidates who stand out for any entry-level role in the Creative Industries are those who are so passionate about their interest that they are constantly experimenting, collaborating, and producing work.

A well-defined passion project will give you a distinct heading on your CV that could have the same weight as a two-week internship if you use it to demonstrate your initiative and the skills you have learned.


How to present your experience

Video production is a broad umbrella under which there are many different job roles and career paths. Of course, if you are putting your energy into creating a passion project for your CV, then you want to design it to show off your particular skills and preferred job role – as a producer, editor, or camera operator, for example.

The most persuasive output will be a completed video, that you can use to support how you worked through the pre-production, filming, and post-production processes.

Image of mic in front of a laptop


What about if you don’t have access to good equipment, or have very low budgets?

Clearly, to produce a video will require you to source equipment and quite likely draw in collaborators with particular skills. Don’t be shy to ask equipment hire facilities for a favour on rental kit, though you may have the budget to rent a DSLR camera for about £50 a day, or better still you could borrow one from a peer for free. But, of course, you will need other equipment, as well as money for food, travel and so forth.

The best approach, therefore, is to be practical and to design a project that can be achieved with the equipment you can access and within your financial means. By carefully selecting your collaborators you might be able to cover off all the kit you require through them without the need to hire in, on the premise that everyone can use the final product to promote themselves. If you can keep the storyline simple and the filming to a single day, that is likely to make the project more achievable. Recording sound, especially actors’ lines, always add complexity, so it’s worth considering if your project can be designed without dialogue.

You can devise a project, budget it, storyboard it and then shoot sequences on your camera phone to edit as a taster reel. What you are looking to demonstrate is your initiative and an understanding of your craft. In fact, it’s a powerful message to say that you didn’t have the funds to actually produce your idea, but it didn’t stop you from conceiving it, working out the costs, planning the shots, and creating a video shot on a phone that gives a feel for what it would look like with the right kit and funds.


Group fist bump with five people working on laptops
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Self-made work experience can really impress employers

If you can create a considered, well-executed piece and frame it properly for potential employers you may well find that creating your own work experience also helps you to manifest your first job. One applicant for an internship at NextShoot used her Summer holiday to make a video about her travels with friends in Greece. Shot on a DSLR with no natural sound and edited with an uplifting soundtrack, it gave her a chance to create an engaging montage video shot in natural light and at interesting locations that demonstrated her skills, judgment and passion for film to prospective employers. She got in touch, linking to her video in her Covering Letter. She got the place.

With any passion project that you undertake, it’s important to make sure the finished work is well-considered. While a potential employer reviewing it will be forgiving about the quality of the lighting, the lenses, and the performances of actors, the story (whatever the genre) needs to make sense and the edit needs to be well structured for it to make a positive impact. Of course, you then need to draw out the salient information about the project in your CV, Covering Letter and hopefully in an interview setting also.

King’s Careers’ Take: Thinking about how to express the value of your work experience to employers? Check out our online course that helps you unpack the knowledge, skills, attributes and experiences that you have gained. 


NextShoot is a small video agency, but we do offer year-round work placements to undergraduates.

For details on this please visit the NextShoot work experience page.