I think I will always divide my life into two parts, before London360, and after London360. Before seeing the advert for volunteer positions at London360, I was like many young graduates, unemployed and down on my luck. I had done a stint of internships in charities and Non-Governmental Organizations, all of which bore little fruit on the career ladder. I was applying to countless jobs on a daily basis and would receive no response in most cases.
I saw an advert for London360, saw that it was for 25 year olds and under and reasoned that this would be my last chance to do such a scheme. I had been trying to get into the media for a while, I used to blog for various websites, but my trouble was lack of contacts. No one would take me seriously, especially without any experience, but because no media organization would employee me, I had little chance of getting the experience required. It was a catch22, one that I think many young people now find themselves in.
If I am honest, I didn't even expect to hear back from London360, and was a little surprised that they responded and offered me an interview. I was even more surprised that they offered me a position following the interview, two years of underemployment and unemployment had made me cynical and sceptical. But my initial misgivings were proven unfounded and that immediately became apparent upon meeting the previous team.
London360 was founded in 2011 and is made up of volunteers between the ages of 18-25. Part of the Media Trust's Community Channel and receives funding from the City Bridge Trust- the scheme is truly unique- it takes young and hungry individuals who want to work in the media industry, but have little experience and contacts and in a short span of time, get's them making real television. We write, produce, research, film, edit and promote our own television feature and television show. Barely any experience and already producing a show, how many other media schemes are out there that are like that?
Very few, there are many schemes that offer to train young people in media, however almost none offer hand-on-experience over an extended period of time. Questions have been asked about whether or not unpaid internships exploit young people and undoubtedly some do. London360 does not, its one of the few internships where you feel that they are investing in you.
We are the seventh season and seventh team of London360, we are on a six month programme, and already I've done more here in six months than in the past two years. In addition to producing, reporting and making television features and show every two weeks for broadcast, I have created a radio feature on Hip-Hop and Religion and got to interview big Hip-Hop acts for it, which was broadcast on WestSideFM radio. I have field produced for BBC Radio, published in the Huffington Post, pitched ideas for TV shows at Television broadcasters, done Vlogs for LondonLive, appeared on an advert for Sky News's new media platform Stand-Up and be counted designed to engage younger voices and been on live TV discussing Black History Month.
I have gone from being able to produce little, to being able to produce professional media content. I am now taken more seriously by organizations and people, when I contact them and feel that being at London360 has already improved my prospects dramatically. I feel I can go anywhere and do anything, even go it alone and do freelance- I now have the skills.
In addition to this London360 provides communal benefits, like MediaTrust, we work alongside small and medium size charities, hidden and vulnerable communities. Some of my colleagues have dealt with issues as diverse as the controversial exhibit B or Human Zoo exhibition at the Barbican, which was cancelled due to the tension it caused. We have covered minorities ranging from transgender community, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish community, Migrants who want to tell their stories through art and numerous sensitive groups that are too many to list. We like to give voice to groups, peoples and communities ignored or marginalised by mainstream media and society, but we don't tell their stories, rather we allow them to tell their own and provide them with the platform for doing so. This social-good is a strong ethos at MediaTrust and London360.
But a word of caution is needed here, life at 360 is tough, an intensive media assault course does not begin to describe it. You do have great independence in what you can do, which would not be afforded to you at most entry level positions in major media companies, but with great freedom comes great responsibility. You and your colleagues carry the weight of the show on your shoulders, its your job to make it work. Everything you do, every little thing matters and is noticed. That said, all of us here are glad to be part of London360 and all of us feel that we have a bright future ahead of us.