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More in this section Your future career

David Cummins

BA Media Arts, Digital Account Manager/PR (Substance) 

Why did you choose Royal Holloway for your degree?

The Media Arts course covered all I wanted for my degree - a 50/50 theory/practical course enabling me to get a good range of experience that I felt would help in pursuing a career in the sector. I felt really inspired by the sample lecture I had on the open day, was excited by the range of courses on offer and was impressed by the list of staff I saw would be teaching me for the following three years - veterans of the industry who would be able to guide me into the media.

How did your time at Royal Holloway help your future career?

The course helped me to harbour and develop my creativity: I took Contemporary Art so was handed an opportunity to push myself into researching art forms I hadn't experienced previously, and create art myself with no limits. Gail Pearce [course convenor] helped me to see art differently, and enabled me to channel my 'inner creative'. I once wrote, directed and produced a piece of performance art about a media pitch - I do that performance every day now!

In terms of extra-curricular activities, I pretty much did it all. I wrote and directed a pantomime, I sold advertising space for the Students' Union publication, I presented a radio show every week, I compered a series of shows and sat on the Union Executive Committee for four years, until I was paid to run it in a Sabbatical year. Being organised to cover all those bases was a big learning curve (!) and helped me massively when I pursued agency life. Now, when I interview potential junior team members/interns, I am blown away by gaps on CVs where extra-curricular activities should be: the learning potential of activities out of the classroom is ginormous.

What do you do now and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career in your field?

I am now a Digital Account Manager at Substance, managing online PR and social media campaigns for films - ultimately I've managed to tie my communications experience with my love of film: every day is a good one!

A couple of pieces of advice for budding PR types:

- Be active at university: no PR misses an opportunity in their career, so why miss out on so many amazing things to do when you have spare time? The blank space on your CV will ring alarm bells. Write for the magazine, or offer to liaise with PRs on the magazine's behalf.

- Be on social media: follow journalists that write in the sector (consumer/film/finance/film/etc) on Twitter and be aware of trends. Knowing relevant publications/sites/blogs that write about what you're interested in is key - you'll be asked at interview what your favourites are and why. It's astonishing to find out that a hopeful PR isn't up to date on social media - the lines between online and offline are increasingly blurring, so keep up to date on both.

- Be alert - keep your eye on agencies that do what you want to do, and stay tuned for work experience opportunities to do during your break. When you get there, ask your line manager if they'd mind you keeping a record of the coverage you helped create - add it to a portfolio of work for when you're interviewing for full-time roles.

- Be a networker - on my first day at Royal Holloway, I was told to look around me in the lecture room, because those people would be my colleagues and collaborators in the future. Everyone you meet is connected to someone you need - so stay friendly, keep your little black book to hand at all times and get ready for champagne and canapes with journalists in the future!






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