A Careers Newsletter Interview | Harvey Church's Log

Harvey Church's Log

A Careers Newsletter Interview

This was written for a careers newsletter for St Christopher’s School in Sept 2022. Originally drafted in May 2022. Please note that the audience is pre-16, so references such as the “How does google maps calculate a route?”, is not entirely correct.

Thinking back to when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Honestly – I do not know! If anything I was more driven my different activities more than job possibilities. I really enjoyed mathematics, and computer programming, but there was also a really big love of music. There probably was some thoughts of becoming a musician of sorts, but I was neither (at the time) driven enough or ambitious enough to seek it out.

All I can recall is that I wanted to do something that would be enjoyable to myself, but also challenging on daily basis in terms of learning new things!

What did you study at school? What qualifications/exams did you take? When did you leave?

My final time at Sixth Form was in July 2019. I started this Degree Apprenticeship in Sept 2020. I studied Maths, Further Maths, Music and Physics at A-Level. I am currently studying (as part of my degree apprenticeship) a Bachelors of Engineering in Broadcast Systems and Media Communications.

Exams wise: Music was really varied! We had to do a composition element, performance and then critical analysis of a large pool of set songs, ranging for modern jazz to opera. Maths, Physics and Further Maths was a lot of… maths! Lots of learning different applications for Calculus, modules on Maths for Computers such as“How does Google Maps calculate routes” (This is called the travelling salesmen problem).

My degree involves exams per module, and then a final year dissertation where I produce a product/solution tied to a business need/want.

What was your first fulltime job when you left education? Or did you work when you were studying?

I was working at school – I had a part time Saturday job working in a machine workshop finishing metal products. This was drilling, filling metal edge. There was also some data entry as part of doing a stock take. In my first year of Sixth Form, I took up maths tutoring. This covered GCSE maths and involved juggling around 15 – 20 local students, alongside my studies.

What is your current job/role and who do you work for? Do you work independently or in a team?

I am a Broadcast Engineering Degree Apprentice with the BBC. This involves studying at university part time and rotating through various segments of the business. I have worked with:

  • Freeview on TV certification and testing, making sure they are up to specification
  • World Service Distribution on a project management rotation
  • Master Control Room on a monitoring/ operations role.

What inspired you to choose your career path?

Partially Luck – I had a pure chance of meeting someone on the recruitment team within the BBC and they mentioned this course. It had a good mix of maths, physics and computer science, all things I were interested in.

I had the benefit of not being tethered to a role, so could take any route. This is probably the first of many, and just made the most sense at the time.

What do you do on a daily basis?

All of this depends on what part of the business I am currently working with. But they all had a few things in common:

Cross Team Communication – Making sure I was aware of what was going on within the team, to make sure that I am on task and aware of interesting things coming up. I have the fortunate position of “Learning” being embedded in my role.

Getting on with a task! – sometimes this could have been producing some analysis, routing up (making a connection for Audio/Video across the building/country) a booking in the Control Room. The role had deliverables – and I have to meet them!

Working through university work – Sometimes this bled into when I was at work. It is a key part of my job to keep on top of it.

What is your favourite and least favourite part of the job? e.g. Have there been any significantly exciting/proud moments for you?

The change! It is both enjoyable and frustrating. I can move from working to a very dedicated phase of learning in a few months. It fantastic to have bits of both. It can be frustrating in that I can really get into my stride working in a business area to then have to move on. Trying to find projects to work on during that time can be hard, because you can’t over invest – but you also don’t want to have a small impact!

I’ve bumped into a few celebrities! It’s fun to just see them walk about. Seeing Gareth Malone eating soup on a random floor in Broadcasting House, London was a good highlight.

How did you get into this?

Having an interest in Maths, Physics and Computer Science. They overlap a lot and cover so many sectors. I could have decided to go into software engineering, becoming a physicist or an engineer. It was also just a bit of luck. I had to apply to a lot of different schemes before landing on this one. It was a lot of hard graft, talking to people and applying to even have the chance to be where I am.

What have the biggest changes been to your industry?

The rise of the streamers means broadcasting has to change. This was partially happening – as a natural change – the pace just got faster.

Also the role/place of a Public Service Broadcaster – not to get into the politics of the license fee, being handed tax payer money has always meant what is done with it – especially with an “Outside Organization” – is questioned. The current environment is a real test of this.

Retaining talent is now a challenge – couple this with the “Purpose of a Public Service Broadcaster” – the environment has never been more challenging. People are moving about – and that means retaining talent, creating STUFF is far more competitive.

Do you foresee any big challenges to your sector/industry in the coming years?

More of the above! Competition breeds innovation, but also means something has to give. If I had to make some guesses a major player from the US could make more of a physical presence here instead of theming content. Netflix/Streamers might launch linear channels (Disney already has/had this). Advertisement on streaming will make a more marked return.

What is the demographic of your colleagues (e.g. ages/gender)?

Amongst the apprentices within my cohort, the gender split is 50/50. The BBC has targets to improve representation across the business; they are on target to exceed them and more!

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you were at school thinking about your future choices?

It sucks not knowing, it is the worst feeling, but it’s really useful to refocus what you decide to do. It was not knowing about whether I should go to university that actually made me take the time to work out if it was something I really wanted. The slight irony being here – that I went back to university – even if part time!

Do more research too! There were plenty of amazing things I did not know existed – there is only so much school can introduce you to, the onus is a little on yourself to go and find things. Ask for help too – schools know some things and can offer guidance – mock interviews and such!