There’s nothing more useful than practical advice in our business. And BIMA needs to be a place to get it. Requests do come in from careers advisory people from all over the place, and it’s a positive step to be able to respond. As a voluntary body, it’s hard for BIMA to get the commitment from experienced folks to offer advice at a more general level tailored to suit the way the Education system seeks it out. Sometimes, all it takes is a little time, and to have a go.
Applying our vast experience to helping GCSE and A level students with advice on following a career in interactive media sounds like a doddle. So on a hot sunny day I set off for Coloma Convent School in deepest suburbia, with friend and colleague Richard Oliver, sometime Understanding Hypermedia author, lecturer and expert in interactive media college courses, in tow. The first hurdle was finding the school. Google Maps indicated that it actually isn’t in Croydon at all, but is luckily situated next to a pub called The Surprise’ which proved to be useful when we arrived early.
Compared to the combined professional recruitment weight of Accenture, The Bank of England and the NHS, the BIMA stand frankly had limited material. We had two tent cards, a short film about the making of an interactive film on the laptop and a portfolio of some websites I’d been involved with to talk about. We also picked up a fistful of SkillSet leaflets (a proper training body) to distribute to the genuinely interested, as students can at least download some job detailed descriptions for creative roles from their website.
They say teenagers are the toughest clients. I’d say teenagers’ parents actually are. (Rather like my own brood) they haven’t a clue what you do, or what Interactive Media is. They just use it, and want to feel it’s a ‘good’ career choice if the teenager in question expresses passion for it. Sample conversation: “What is interactive media?” “You know MSN Messenger?” “Yes.” “Well we design things like that.” “Cool.” (Note to self: 14 year olds haven’t made the branding leap to Windows Live Messenger.)
We absolutely needed our summary ‘What is BIMA?” off pat and have answers tailored to the specific questions of which subjects the students should do at A level and which course we would recommend. All in all, it went very well. I was delighted at the amount of interest generated, and my colleague Richard, who does a lot more of these things than I do, commented “I was expecting this to be pretty dry, but it’s a great reminder that we do actually do interesting stuff.” Mind you, to the right of us was Croydon Council. Speaking personally, we were leaning rather more to the left, in the direction of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Somehow we felt like architects of the virtual world.
BIMA needs volunteers for this type of event. We recognise that that it’s a lot to ask our membership to respond to every career request, but I do recommend structuring work placement programmes and graduate recruitment strategies. We need more bright people in our sector, and building the future does start with this sort of effort. My experience of doing this? It was a great opportunity to get to grips with how we should talk to the future. The age of mentoring starts now.