Life as a digital reporter

Ben Williams shares his experience of being on our Digital Reporters Scheme…

Cornerhouse are taking on their forth batch of digital reporters and it’s an excellent opportunity for 12 of you to learn new skills, put them into practice and have fun adding vital experience to your CV. I joined the scheme a couple of years ago and it’s been instrumental in helping me get the break I needed to kick-start my career.

Before volunteering I cut the all too familiar shape of a twenty-something ‘creative person’ without direction. The 5th anniversary of my ‘temporary’ desk job was ominously approaching, and the fear of checking my personality at reception each morning for the rest of my life was beginning to look a grim inevitability. I’d finished my degree in design 6 years earlier, and like so many, had not followed it up with the same enthusiasm I’d began with. I still enjoyed art, photography and writing, but having well and truly fallen out of love with design, lacked a direction in which to express myself professionally.

There are lots of opportunities in the modern workforce for skilled creative people, but getting a chance to practice your skills professionally is key. Without this it seems impossible to defeat the merry-go-round of needing real experience without there being any jobs in which to gain it. The Digital Reporters Scheme was exactly the opportunity I needed to navigate around the carousel and silence the voices in my head saying ‘you’re wasting your life’.

On the scheme I attended workshops on photography, filming, writing for the web, interview technique, social media, blogging and pitching. Each of these has been run by experts from, amongst others, Creative Tourist, Audioboo and Creative Times. I’ve had hands on experience with video and photography equipment I might previously not been able to look at through pure envy. Instead I’ve learnt how to use them properly with tutorials from Cornerhouse’s own technical and creative team. For me, the chance to talk to professionals about photography and ask the simple questions has been invaluable.

Most important to me was the chance to get out there and put these skills into practice. I was lucky enough to interview John Garden about synthesised dinosaurs, ask Erik Alexander Wilson what it was like to shoot Tyrannosaur and watch Barbara Nice encourage the public to feather-dust a quarter million pound art installation. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly is given me a chance to showcase my skills on subjects I’m passionate about and given me a massive confidence boost.

Being a digital reporter isn’t a guaranteed life-changing experience, but it’s an opportunity to get you on the right path. I applied my experience as a digital reporter to voluntary projects away from the scheme, and in a year my CV went from grey administrative monolith to something I’m actually quite proud of. Having been for a couple of interviews I finally got my break and will be working in the arts from September. I’m looking forward to welcoming my personality back to the workplace.

Want to become a digital reporter? We have opened recruitment and more information can be found here.