Report – Volunteers’ Career Guidance Session

Posted on: Tuesday 05 July 2016 12:17am by Oliver Ridgeon

Over 80 students and young people from the industry make up the CMC volunteer team.  You’ll see them everywhere in their yellow tee-shirts. They’re from a wide variety of institutions across the county, including Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, Hallam, Nottingham, Lincoln, De Montford Leicester, Manchester, Brighton and Sussex. On Monday 4 July they were all briefed, given their CMC business cards, assigned their tasks and went to a career tips session organised by recently graduated Oli Ridgeon.


There’s no set path or hard and fast rules to get into children’s media, but there are certain attributes that can help you along the way, including:

  • Persistence
  • Willingness
  • Having a positive attitude and a willingness to be helpful, and listen
  • Taking rejection in your stride
  • Keep improving your craft
  • Look out for luck and coincidence, and when it comes your way grab the opportunity


The Volunteers’ Career Guidance Session represents the (unofficial) ‘kick off’ of CMC 2016 – and we have now unofficially kicked off! The session brought together six panellists from various media industries, with an emphasis on those working in children’s media, to discuss any and everything relating to their industries and how best to get your career started.

On the panel were Helen McAleer (Chief Global Development Officer – Walker Books), Sarah Muller (Creative Director, Scripted, Animation and Co-Productions – CBBC), Danny Stack (Writer/Director – Nelson Nutmeg Pictures), Emma Cooper (Business Development Manager – Rocket Digital), Katy Sykes (TV & Film Account Manager – Sundae Communications) and me, Oli Ridgeon (Production Manager – Adastra Development). I also produced the session (and yes I’m writing this blog but I promise not to show a hint of bias…).

The idea was to create a diverse panel and informal atmosphere to give the volunteers the opportunity to ask questions and be given an understanding of how the panellists got their starts in their specific industry, and I hope we achieved that.

I’m new to the industry myself. Less than a year in, new. Being able to put this session together felt as though it was as much for me as for the volunteers! I knew that I’d find a lot of the information, tips and stories just as useful as those in the audience as I continue my newfound career.

I thought the overriding theme of the session was the prevalence of luck and coincidence in the panellists getting their starts. Sarah made the point ‘never underestimate the power of coincidence’, with her own story of a TV producer calling her looking for theatre tickets whilst she worked at a box office, tickets which Sarah exchanged for a job! However a lucky break is only half the battle and it’s just a way in – how conscientious, resilient and hardworking you are is what will stick.

I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable being on a panel with professionals vastly more experienced than me, and I questioned what useful tips I could give the volunteers. However two volunteers Celeste Jennings and Lydia Smith said after the session that just having someone new to the industry being up there was great to see, someone that’s just gone through that initial process of ‘making a start’, and I agree (beating my own drum… I told you this blog would be unbiased). Had I been in the audience, seeing someone close to my age would have given me confidence that I could do it too.

So hopefully all the volunteers found the session as useful as Celeste, Lydia, and I did, and perhaps a year from now some at least will have found their way into their career thanks to a connection they made at CMC.

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Oliver Ridgeon

About the author

Oliver Ridgeon

Adastra Development, Project Manager

Oli is a young business graduate with a passion for TV and film development. He works as a Project/Production Manager for an independent, Bafta winning children’s television development and Production Company established by the team responsible for ‘Grandpa in my Pocket’ and ‘Ha Ha Hairies’. He is new to the industry,… Read more