Lecturers in Industry: Sophie Blount, Creative Media
Sophie teaches Creative Media alongside running her own media business after working in live television. She told us about the value of diversifying your skillset in a fast-changing industry like media and communications.
Across all of our departments we have lecturers who’ve worked in the areas they teach – and many of them still do!
Sophie teaches Creative Media alongside running her own media business, after spending time working in live television and productions. She spoke to us about why it’s important for her students to have a role model and the value of diversifying your skillset in a fast-changing industry like media and communications.
What do you teach at the college?
I teach Level 3 Creative Media Production here at Gloucestershire College. I've been teaching on and off for nearly ten years now, which scares me!
What do you like about teaching Creative Media?
I think my favourite part about teaching Creative Media with students is the endless possibilities that you can achieve in the classroom. Being a very creative-led subject, I can have in my mind how I think students are going to respond to a project - and then they completely surprise me with what they come up with. That element really excites me, and the fact that it's a very sort of practical, industry-focused course as well.
What do you do outside of teaching? How do you keep up with industry?
I've always tried to keep a hand in industry opportunities alongside coming to work in the classroom. I've been able to diversify what we can offer in the curriculum by going out and gaining that up-to-date work experience and diverse experience from my own skill set.
I used to work in BBC Regional News, so working in a live news environment was really relevant when I first started teaching live television broadcasting. The same with radio production as well, and podcasting. I worked on audio production projects which we then integrated into the curriculum over the years, with the rise of engagement with podcasts.
Independently I run my own little media business. I work with commercial clients, producing corporate radio productions to promote their services or their products. That's been really relevant with regards to the classroom and curriculum because a lot of our students likely will go into the corporate sector of radio production. I'm able to share my up-to-date experiences in the corporate world with what they will hopefully go on to do themselves in the industry. Most recently, I've extended my industry work into social media, content creation and communications and PR positions as well.
How is that good for the students when you've got classes with lots of different ambitions and goals?
We have students with a whole host of different career goals and life aspirations, so it's been really important for me as a teacher to broaden my own experiences. I didn't just want to be in one box where I can just do one thing because that's not how the industry works anymore.
About 10, 15 years ago when I trained in this sector, you could specialise in one specific role and stand a chance of building a career around that one skill set. But the way that the industry has evolved now, there's that expectation for you to be able to do a whole host of roles, not just one. Especially if you want to go and run your own media production company, which a lot of our students do! I’m sort of making it clear to them that they need to be able to do the technical side, as well as the production and organisation and being able to approach people.
The fact that they can see that I've diversified my skill set over the last 10 years is really valuable to them because I suppose you're like a role model in the classroom. If they know that you're getting paid work to do all these different things, there's a bit more value to what I'm advising them, because I'm evidence that it works and you can succeed in what you want to do by putting yourself into those new opportunities.
Seeing yourself as a role model to your students, is that important to you?
Yeah, a lot of my students come from families that don’t really understand what media is about, so the fact that we can stand there and give them that insight and encouragement is great. My parents have been very supportive of me over the years, but they didn't understand the industry I wanted to get into - it was my tutors that kept me going and said “You can do this!” Although it's hard to break into the industry, you can achieve this if you really put your mind to it. I think sometimes parents can't give that same reassurance or encouragement as an industry teacher because they haven't been there and done it themselves. For young people, different types of role models are really valuable.
What's your favourite project that you've learnt the most from?
I think every industry job that you do in this creative sector, you learn something new on every shoot. One of the biggest learning curves for me was that stint that I did in live television. The biggest thing I learnt was the politics of going into an existing media organisation and understanding how to, as a young new person within that team, win over people's trust. Even though I knew I could do the job, I had to find ways of quickly proving myself to people that had worked there for a very long time, and that's not something that is in a curriculum is it! It's not listed as an essential skill to have, but because I experienced that, and I have that resilience to push forward with it to establish myself successfully I guess I've tried to prepare my students for that. I put them into positions like new groups of people and get them to present ideas in front of their class members to build that confidence that they could then use within a new environment, having that confidence to push forward with what they're trying to achieve.
What's the most rewarding part of bringing that to your classroom and seeing the students?
Well if I start by saying, there’s a stigma attached to studying media, still. People come into it thinking it's an easy subject to choose to study, but it isn't!
I think it takes a lot longer to perfect your skills in a creative subject than most industries because it's not black and white, it's not right or wrong. It's how you interpret it, how you then take that idea and build it into a technical outcome - whether that's a video or a podcast. So, I think the most rewarding aspect of teaching students creative media is that point where they produce that one piece of work where you go, “Okay, it's clicked now, they get what they need to do.” And once they've reached that point then they just continue to succeed and build upon that, and it only goes in that upwards direction! Because they all reach that point at different times, it's really special, but it's sort of scattered across the year. I'd say that's one of the most rewarding parts of teaching, seeing that students have gained that knowledge and confidence.
Want to know more? Take a look at some of the Media courses Sophie teaches:Media Courses See more Lecturers in Industry