Jessica Fairclough

Jessica Fairclough

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I’m a third-year Film, Photography and Media student currently on a Year in Industry working for a Digital Marketing company called Trio Media, who are based on Kirkstall Road in Leeds. I originally come from a small town near The Lake District, so Leeds was a big change of pace and scenery for me.

I enjoy filmmaking, photography and writing but my other hobbies include thrifting, styling, and fashion. I hope to pursue Filmmaking and production once I finish my degree. My end goal is to become a Producer, but I also really enjoy Cinematography and the odd bit of Directorial work as well.

What made you want to apply to your BA course and to Leeds?

I fell in love with Leeds when I visited the city for the first time on one of their open days. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the university and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. Due to its high student population, I thought it would be somewhere I could settle in and make friends easily (which I did!).

The course also certainly stood out to me as it included both practical and written work, incorporating all the elements I wanted out of a degree. As I hadn’t made up my mind which field I wanted to specialise in and focus on as a career, this course allowed me to explore a wide variety of areas and understand where my strengths and passions were. The hands-on element of this course was also a big selling point to me, I saw a lot of Film courses from other Russell Group universities, but they were much more theory-based and less active. I think this course is a perfect blend of practical and written and the flexibility you have in modules and choices of examination means you can really tailor this course to meet your desires, which is a great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your degree and learning about what you’re most passionate in.

What aspects of your course have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed the more pro-active aspects of my course the most; the filmmaking project in my second year was a great way to get some hands-on experience with the industry-level equipment and it also let me try out producing, which I’ve now decided is my desired career path. It also gave me the chance to work with my course mates in a group which is beneficial in enhancing my teamwork skills and ability to work with others, as well as getting to know a wider range of people with similar interests.

I’ve also appreciated the freedom you have in the modules of this course particularly. I had never considered scriptwriting as a passion of mine until I tried it in my first year of University and I loved it! Now I always tend to lean towards scriptwriting options whenever I have them in my modules and it has really allowed me to explore an area of my degree I didn’t expect to enjoy.

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

I think the facilities in the School of Media and Communication are great, especially the editing software we can use like Adobe Suite, which I had never used before starting University and now I use it every day! The wide range of equipment we can borrow is also really beneficial, the camera equipment is top of the range and something I would never be able to afford or really get to grips with in day-to-day life so that’s been really helpful to get familiar with.

What made you decide to choose a year in industry placement?

I chose a year in industry placement because I thought it would be beneficial towards my chosen career path if I had some practical ‘real-life’ experience under my belt before graduating. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, I also felt like I just needed a break from university for a while as well, as I found the online learning less productive towards my education. I thought making some connections in my field would also enhance my journey post-graduation, especially in the Leeds area as I hope to continue living here after university.

Where did you do your placement and why?

I did my placement at a Digital Marketing agency called Trio Media. I ideally wanted to stay in Leeds, so I emailed media-based companies in the area asking if they had any placement opportunities. Trio got back to me quickly and said they would be interested, although they hadn’t had a placement student before. I had a video call to meet the CEO and I got a very positive energy from the business that I thought I could contribute towards. After meeting all the staff and getting a real feel for the company, I knew I had certainly made the right decision.

Tell us about your experience during your year in industry

I typically have been working most days in the office, but I have had opportunities to go to London and lots of other locations to do photography and videography for clients. My day-to-day tasks include running the business’s social media and YouTube channel. I also do photography and videography for Trio Media’s clients, and I also have been learning how to create animated videos as well. Due to the nature of the business, I’m getting experience with photography and videography in a massive range of circumstances which is really helping me to refine what I know to be my passions and areas of enjoyment.

I feel extremely fortunate to have fit in so well with the staff at Trio Media, they’ve really taken me under their wing and allowed me to be as creative as I want, they are constantly inspiring me to be the best I can be and encourage me to take on new responsibilities that allow for better understanding.

Claire, the CEO, is always so supportive and keen to explore any new ideas and suggestions I may have, which has certainly helped me to become more confident in a working environment and to not be afraid to share my opinions and thoughts.

What did you enjoy the most in your year in industry?

I really enjoyed being given the chance to involve more practical work into my degree so that my skills are more refined. It’s been a great opportunity for me to push myself out of my comfort zone and get crucial experience in the professional field. I’ve also been able to meet so many great people through my year in industry, who have a similar mindset to me and who I can learn from.

I also feel like I’ve personally grown and become a lot more productive and independent from my year in industry. At not one point did I ever feel like I was a ‘student’, nor was I treated like one, and this really helped me to get a better understanding of the professional environment and working world.

Would you recommend future students to undertake a year in industry placement?

I would absolutely recommend a year in industry placement to future students. Not only has it allowed me to develop a wider range of skills and step outside of my comfort zone, but it has given me the opportunity to make a range of connections in my chosen career field that I can then utilise beyond my time at university. Whether you’re struggling with finding a career path or not, it can help you learn more about a field you’re interested in and yourself, your values, and your areas of strength.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies and which ones have you tried out yourself?

There is a wide range of societies to get involved with, which has also been helpful for me to stay in touch and included in university life whilst I’m on my year in industry. Societies are an excellent way to find friends with similar interests and I think this will be especially helpful for when I return to my studies in September, as a lot of my friends will be graduating this year, so it is a perfect opportunity to meet some new people.

Do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at your placement will help with what you learn at Leeds, and will help your future career once graduating?

The skills I’ve developed whilst being on placement will undoubtedly help with my final year at university. I’ve become more confident using equipment and software that I previously thought I could improve on, and I also think outside of my degree that my communication and teamwork skills have improved due to the office environment and the nature of liaising with clients.

My time management skills have also come on leaps and bounds, which I know can often be an area of improvement for students. During my Year in Industry, I was faced with a lot of time-dependent tasks and multiple deadlines in short spaces of time, and without even realising it I can look back and see how I’ve improved on managing my tasks efficiently without feeling overwhelmed and stressed about my workload.