Meghan Bain (22) is a former BA (Hons) Digital Media from Cumbernauld who graduated in June 2020 and believes that Forth Valley College prepared her very well for the workplace.
She, said: “I felt prepared to go out into the industry with enough knowledge to navigate as an entry level worker - be it as a freelancer, runner, PA, etc. There are things I recognise in my current occupation that I otherwise feel I might not have fully comprehended in an academic environment. Things like what paperwork is necessary for productions to go ahead, terminology used in the creative industries that you need to navigate the industry easily, and a clear understanding of what certain job roles are necessary in particular productions and their hierarchy in the sector.”
Meghan has recently been working as an Executive Assistant to the Director of Screen and Executive Director of Screen Scotland on a short term contract, but is gearing up for the next step in her career which will include continuing to freelance in graphic/web design through my current employment with Creative Scotland.
She went on: “I chose Forth Valley College as I liked the variety of topics and forms available for me to study and the fact it was an integrated degree. When I was leaving high school, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do so I applied to courses to do with game design, digital design and media studies.
“Most of the university courses I applied to felt hyper-focused on the one subject, be it coding or filmmaking and such, but this degree (BA Digital Media) ranged from film and radio production, to web design to creative writing. Knowing that the wide range of practical work I would cover in my first years would transition me into a more academic environment, felt like a good balance of learning.
“I can’t speak of the lecturers highly enough. It was refreshing to feel supported and encouraged in an educational environment… it made me want to learn. My ideas were not shunned or ridiculed, but were helped to be developed and shaped into the lessons that I genuinely enjoyed learning. If I had something I wanted to explore through a particular medium, I was supported in doing so – that was really rewarding and helped me gain confidence in my ideas and processes.
“The facilities were also great. It was the first time I’d been able to work in a radio studio and use camera equipment, and the lecturers took great care in helping students understand and use the equipment properly. It was nice to be guided through that process without feeling you were being babied, that my curiosity to learn something new wasn’t met with condescension, but enthusiasm.
“The Stirling Campus spaces are kept in good condition and the working environment feels welcoming and productive. I felt the College to be a safe space where I knew I could naturally get work done. I often returned on my time off from University classes (as we had access to both facilities during the 4-year degree), as I found it easier to get work done at the College because I felt so comfortable there.
“I think College laid the foundation for a lot of practical skills that I have developed over the years whilst nurturing my desire to learn more. There are times when a project can feel quite overwhelming or you feel out of your depth, but I was reminded frequently at FVC that what you create is only part of the reward. What you learn during planning, production and post are just as - if not more - important than the final product, and the mistakes you make along the way are opportunities to learn, not failures.
“Though it is undeniable that college provided me with a large and vast number of practical skills in video/audio production, graphic/web design and creative writing, the mindset to embrace the whole process - mistakes and all - is something I’m grateful to have learned. I make sure to carry that mindset into all
the work I do from now on, because my time and efforts never feel wasted when I know everything is a learning opportunity.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the team at Screen Scotland and feel I’ve adapted reasonably well because of what I learned at college. Most of my day is made up of diary management, inbox management and organisation of files and information for the director of screen and executive director.
“Things like taking minutes for meetings, organising paperwork clearly for others to access in a shared online space, and horizon-scanning important future events are skills I definitely honed in college. Though there are noticeable differences between using these skills in a student production and in a professional large-scale organization.
“Additionally, changes such as working from home and using different software and the processes and instincts I gained through my practical work at college, has served me well to hit the ground running in this new position. I really enjoy what I do and it helps that I feel welcomed and supported by the team I work with, particularly as I am new to the department.
“My lecturers at Forth Valley College have been very supportive of me and often offered me opportunities to add to my portfolio and gain experience. I was consistently reminded during my studies at the College that their students are students for life and I feel that support even after graduating.
“I’ve spoken to my lecturers to ask for feedback while redesigning my portfolio site, to ask for references when applying for work and generally seeking advice trying to break into the industry. I’m grateful that my questions or requests never felt burdensome to them and their advice and feedback has always been genuinely helpful. It’s a pleasure to be guided by such talented and kind people who are so well versed in the industry I aspire to grow in.
“I would recommend the College particularly in regards to media studies. Studying at FVC makes so much sense, because it helps to pull back the curtain on industry standard processes in production. Since college was very practical based compared to my university studies, I learned a lot of my own strengths in production and gained a solid understanding of how student productions differed from large scale productions. I was able to build a small network of contacts, volunteer for productions associated with the College and add to my portfolio of creative work.
“I know I got undeniably lucky with the class I ended up in and the lecturers who ended up teaching me. Every single one of us got on exceptionally well and our friendships extended into our university transition too. Many of us still stay in touch, despite graduating in the middle of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our projects and learning throughout college, wouldn’t have turned out the way they did if it wasn’t for the fact that we all got on so well with one another.
“One of my favourite memories is when we had an end of year screening in second year, looking back on all the work we had produced at college. I was so proud of how much we had learned as students, grown as individuals and been supported by our lecturers to develop our creativity and skills. Being able to look back on my college years and know it was such a fun and productive period of exponential growth. It makes me glad I embraced every day there.
“I found comfort in the fact a year’s work of efforts at college would be rewarded with an HNC or HND. Sometimes the thought of committing to four years of study at university, when you aren’t even sure you will fully enjoy it, is daunting and you might consider dropping out by the end of the first year.
“I think being actively involved in projects and production is both fun and also an effective way to solidify the thought processes involved in creative projects. Things like creating contingency plans, organising your paperwork, having spare batteries and double-checking cables are functional are things that become second nature after you’ve learned the hard way during production.
“I knew when I got to university that I was way ahead of others with less hands-on experience – while they were learning how to set up a tripod for an hour, I was beginning to get my hands-on new editing software, actively taking notes whilst editing my project. That all came down to me being able to transfer my practical skills from college and apply it to new equipment incredibly quickly so I could swiftly move onto other concepts that needed my attention.”
Summing up her Forth Valley College experience in three words Meghan, said: “Support. Learning. Growth.”