“A career as a writer” A talk with Geoff Hattersley

We had a talk today from poet Geoff Hattersley, the focus of this talk was mainly his career as a writer; how he got to where he is, the ups and the downs. So this blog post will mainly be a post dedicated to Geoff Hattersley!

Geoff Hattersley was born in South Yorkshire in 1956 and he started off by telling us that he never knew that he wanted to be a writer, but he spent his whole childhood writing – from the moment he could hold a pen he was writing and telling stories. He spent most of his time writing short stories, and when he was a teenager he filled two exercise books with “what could only be described as a novella” (Hattersely, 2014)

Geoff explained that he didn’t leave school with many qualifications, but with 3 GCO-Levels to his name he never stopped writing. He eventually went to Sheffield University to study English Literature, and was asked to run English workshops for Kirklees Metropolitan Council. Finally, in 1987 he got his big break – Geoff had his first book published. After he was published he was asked to do book reviews, but he expressed that he didn’t like that kind of writing so he decided to set up his won small press an “underground enterprise”. This small press ended up being very popular, and Geoff was being sent more material than he could ever get through, they ended up publishing 30 magazines, and 24 books but the workload eventually took it’s toll so he stopped the press completely.

Geoff told us that if you wanted to be a writer you had to expect the following:

  1. You must be diverse – to be successful you must be able to cover a range of things even if it doesn’t necessarily interest you
  2. Don’t expect to make millions – becoming a successful writer is VERY hard work, you shouldn’t become a writer because you think it’s a good way to make millions. J.K. Rowling and E.L. James were very lucky to have the success that they have.
  3. Expect lots of work – If you want to be successful and be published then you have to put a lot of work into what you produce, and even if you have to get a job to afford to live whilst you’re writing Geoff told us to “always treat writing as your main job, even if it isn’t”

Surely there must be positives about being a writer?!

Yes, there are. Geoff told us that being in the field of writing provides you with some of the best positives, and highs that you would struggle to find in other fields, some examples of this are:

  1. The first time you see your work in print
  2. The first time you get published
  3. Having your published book go on sale, and realising that someone is going to buy and enjoy what you have worked hard to produce
  4. Opening the paper and reading a (hopefully) raving review of your book/poem etc
  5. Getting published in an anthology along side some great names
  6. And finally, holding readings, going to festivals and signing books till your arm falls off.

If you’re a materialistic person then maybe a career in writing isn’t the one for you because it is definitely a tough field and most writers struggle to get by, but the pay off is worth if and it definitely keeps you on your feet.


“A career as a writer” A talk with Geoff Hattersley

Fancy working with a charity?

My second talk of E&E week was all about working for a charity, and what kind of person a charity requires. We had Joanne Taylor from CAFOD talk to us about her role in a charity organisation.

What is CAFOD?

  1. CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International.
  2. It was started in 1960 and their mission is to promote human development and social justice in witness to Christian faith and Gospel values

What do they do?

CAFOD believe that poverty can be overcome, but only by the following three ways:

  1. Long term development: food availability, increased farming methods, skills, better income, access to health care and education and also helping people get a better livelihood.
  2. Emergency relief: This requires helping those that have been effected by conflicts and disasters, and providing emergency assistance, food, shelter and medical care. Most recently CAFOD have been trying to help with the Ebola crisis. http://www.cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news/Ebola-outbreak-in-west-Africa
  3. Lobbying and campaigning: This involves trying to fix issues such as human right issues, and lack of human rights. Economic and social issues are also addressed but most importantly CAFOD strive to get everyone a decent wage. As some places work for as little $1 a day. (roughly 70p)

Want to work for CAFOD?

CAFOD have a lot of different areas that people can work in, below are just a few of the many available! There’s something for everyone.

  1. Finance
  2. Media
  3. Policy
  4. Fundraising
  5. Marketing

CAFOD needs people that have a professional understanding of development, and want to fix the world we live in. Working in a charity organisation requires certain characteristics, such like passion, vision, values and commitment.
“CAFODS vision mission for values”

Why work for CAFOD?

CAFOD are strongly inspired by the core values of the Catholic Church; compassion, hope, dignity and solidarity. These principles underpin everything they do and means that if you work for them then you’ll be doing something important, something that makes a difference in the world. CAFOD was also placed in the “top 5 charities to work in for women by Glamour Magazine in 2011”

Working for CAFOD means that your work will have a positive impact in the world, but it is also a diverse company so everyone is welcome – faith or no faith.

If you’re still interested in working for a charity, and want feel strongly about making a difference in the world or like the sound of CAFOD in particular then the following links will help!


Email: leeds@cafod.org.uk

Phone: 0113 2759302


Fancy working with a charity?

“A Career in TV – BBC and Celebrity Big Brother”

The first talk of Employability and Enterprise Week was held by Sean O’Brien who is a Television Studies 2012 Graduate. He talked to us about the career he has had in TV and gave us the ups, downs and some very helpful tips about the industry and hopefully this post will help you decide whether a career in TV is the one for you.

Work experience is key!

The main thing I took away from this talk was that having a degree doesn’t 100% guarantee you the job you applied for, it’s the work experience on your CV that will set you aside from the others. Sean told us that even though he has a degree in Television Studies, he was sure that it was the great deal of experience on his CV that got him his ultimate job of currently working as a task researcher for Celebrity Big Brother – a show that he is very (very) fond of!

Celeb Big Brother task example!

Sean explained that the experience he did at Media City in Manchester; the BBC Entertainment North department was vital to bulking out his CV and gaining as many skills as possible. No experience is too small, even if it is just as a day runner for a little TV show that no one has heard of, the skills that you would gain from that day would be vital. It also shows your possibly future employer that you are willing to do whatever job comes your way, and that you would be a vital addition to the team.

The best things about a career in TV.

We were also told why working in TV is so amazing, and what kinds of things we could expect if we were to work in this field. Below are a few of the main points that I picked up.

  1. You can do anything you want. The TV industry isn’t like any other industry, you can practically do anything you want. If you have an idea for a TV show and the producers like it then you’ll be given buckets (hopefully) of money and away you go. Sean gave us the example of the show The Plane Crash where Channel 4 put millions into a show where they literally crashed planes into the desert to see how the crash test dummies managed… madness!
  2. The hard work you do will be seen by millions. One of the best things about the long hours and amounts of hard work is that it will be seen by an audience. The audience might not be huge, but there will be a group of people that really appreciate the work you put in to a show and that is an awesome feeling. Though you will probably come across a few people who couldn’t care less that you worked 5am – 10pm for 4 weeks straight.
  3. You get to work with celebrities. Whilst this shouldn’t be the main reason you work in the TV industry, it certainly is a perk. The chance to work alongside those more famous than you is exciting and will probably make you feel a little starstruck – even if it is just making a cup of tea for Olivia Colman. Who we are told is absolutely lovely to work with!

The worst things about a career in TV…

Whilst there are definitely the upsides to working in TV, there are obviously downsides to working in such a demanding field. Below are just a few of the examples that you might need to know.

  1. You have to work with celebrities. Yes this was just on the “best things” list but this also deserves a spot on the worst things about a career in TV because some celebrities are notorious for being hard work, demanding and not very nice to runners and those who are making the tea and taking care of them – so don’t expect to become best friends with them straight away.
  2. Working in TV kind of ruins watching TV. Even as a Media student this point definitely applies to me because whenever I watch something now after 4 years of studying Media I can see how they filmed certain parts, pick up on every continuity error and know that even shows that are meant to not be scripted are almost entirely scripted… (Made In Chelsea i’m looking at you)
  3. Lots of rejection and rubbish hours. If you’re looking for a career in the TV industry then prepare yourselves for awful hours, most likely 8am starts and 10pm finishes, and lots of rejection. (and I mean lots) The people in the TV industry are busy people, so they probably don’t have the time to check every application that gets sent to their inbox. But when you do apply make sure your cover letter is short and snappy, and don’t ramble, employers like to be able to read everything about you by glances at a few sentences!

Last but not least, how to get in the TV industry – There are many different ways to look for experience and placement opportunities but these are the best ways that Sean told us:

  1. Get experience now
  2. Email around – you’ll probably have more luck emailing the production manager or executive producer
  3. use social networks to look for upcoming positions and opportunities – @theunitlist is a good one!
  4. Teach yourself as many skills whilst you’re at university – use the facilities available to you e.g. camera skills and editing skills are vital when trying to get anywhere in the media industry.
  5. Get a good CV and cover letter. Nothing too long, and don’t send a CV on a weekend! Chances are it’ll be forgotten about.

– Mollie.

“A Career in TV – BBC and Celebrity Big Brother”

Know Your Story!

Imagine you’ve been invited to an interview for that job that you’ve been wishing you’d get for months, and you sit down in the office and your possible future employer asks you that dreaded question… “Tell me your story” The minute you hear those 4 little words you forget everything about yourself except your name and that you’re a cat person. The employer doesn’t need to know this, so know your story!

1. Don’t apologise for what you love. If you love slasher films, or jazz music then own that! Don’t be embarrassed about what you like, use your likes and dislikes to your advantage to make yourself seem attractive to the employer.

2. Talk. Talk. Talk. If you’re asked to talk about yourself or your story, then be prepared to talk for a while about yourself, don’t ramble or sit in an awkward silence because this will make you seem like an unorganised person who doesn’t really know who they are.

3. ALWAYS HAVE AN ANSWER! You could be asked a number of questions during an interview, not just “tell me your story” so prepare for every possible question e.g “what have you done recently to help someone?” “give me an example of when you didn’t succeed” always prepare!

4. Learn to tango. Now this might sound a little silly, but i was recently informed that if you learn to tango, then you will no longer walk into a room lacking confidence. The tango will make you own that room, and you will just ooze confidence. I’ve also heard you will never walk across the room the same. You will be noticed. Employers LOVE confidence.

These are just a few tips on how to prepare for an interview, but don’t forget – Don’t apologise for what you love. 🙂


Know Your Story!