Portrait of Joe Foley with a helicopter for Air Television.

Joe Foley

Why did you choose to study your degree at the University of Leeds?

I chose to study at Leeds because of the reputation of the course at the university. There’s a great mix of practical and theory that set me up for working in the industry with relevant work experience after my first year. The research skills I gained from theory modules were invaluable and the practical skills I use every day when filming on location.

Tell us about the opportunities you took advantage of at Leeds.

I joined the student television station LSTV in the first year and was part of the society until I graduated. This proved to be a great way to get hands-on with camera and editing kit without the pressure of trying to meet course deadlines. I could just borrow a camera and learn how to use it in my own time. This meant I had plenty of footage to create a showreel of my camera work.

How has your experience of studying BA Journalism helped you in your career?

I’m currently a Shooting Assistant Producer at a production company based in Yorkshire. I’m part of the team that films a documentary series following paramedics in the county.

When filming, my goal is to illustrate a story while crucially not hindering the work of the emergency services. The practical course modules set me up perfectly for this job; I learnt how to construct a story on screen as well as how to be an ethical journalist which in my current role is incredibly important.

The demand is high for roles within TV, meaning that the competition is fierce and, to start with, I struggled for the first couple of months to get any sort of job but you just have to keep asking people to give you a chance. If you’re friendly, extremely hard working and happy to go the extra mile, you won’t go wrong, and studying journalism at the University of Leeds is the perfect first step.

What advice would you give to future students?

The degree provides a fantastic foundation of journalism skills and practical understanding of how the industry works. I enjoyed the television journalism modules the most, so I took every opportunity I could to gain experience in this area. I’d always advise students to gain extra work experience in addition to the degree. It’ll give you the edge in job interviews while securing valuable industry contacts.

I’d really take advantage of the opportunities you have at university. Take that extra time to learn how to use a camera properly, how to edit a news package or set up lighting for an interview. LSTV is a great way to do this. A lot of the kit you will be using is similar, if not the same, to what we use in the industry.

I’d also spend some time putting together a really clear CV which focusses on what you have done in terms of work experience with visual or audio examples, such as showreels.

Joe Foley won the Royal Television Society ‘One to Watch’ Award in 2018