The day in the life of a Channel 4 Apprentice - Chris Renouf
What is a typical day in the life of a Channel 4 Apprentice?
Well, basically, I got paid to watch TV! How cool is that? Part of my job as a Continuity Announcer Apprentice, I preview and research up and coming shows by watching programme footage on the software that Channel 4 use.
I work usually on MORE4 or 4Seven and occasionally Channel 4 itself. I have to write up some creative scripts that could persuade the audiences to watch our amazing shows by hearing our voices on the TV during the day. The fun thing is the writing, as long as we remain impartial, and not SWEAR (obviously). We get to be as creative as we can with our scripts. We can be cheeky and humorous but, at the same time, depending on the programme content and sensitivity we have to be aware of what we write. We can also use the Internet to find out other interesting facts that relate to any of the programmes.
This job (yes, job, an apprenticeship is considered a job, with all the benefits as other employees) has definitely helped my creative writing skills, which I would like to pursue as a career. After I finish writing for my programme/channel schedules, I get to record my voice so it can be heard on TV later on in the evening. Recording your own voice is pretty cool because you get to use some amazing technology with the microphones and recording software, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Some programmes will require specific announcements where you have to try and remain low-key in the tone of voice and it’s quite tricky to sound really excited for one programme but then having to lower the excitement for others. A Continuity Announcer’s job is to sell the programme to the audiences, which is a form of Marketing.
While doing that, I completed an Apprenticeship in Creative Digital Media which I really, really enjoyed studying. I got to meet and work with so many other young and talented individuals during the year and I just loved the sheer diversity of our network. One major aspect of the course was to create our own cool video about life as an apprentice at Channel4 and I enjoyed the teamwork side of the project and listening to other cool ideas. It was just so refreshing to learn something completely different while gaining a new qualification (win-win situation really!). As I'm originally a northerner from Cumbria, I felt truly privileged to be given an opportunity to live and work in London and meeting and making new friends from all sorts of cultures and other mixed backgrounds.
It’s been a few months since I completed my Apprenticeship but I still keep in contact with the many new people that I met during the year. It’s a great way to keep up to date with any other potential job opportunities that may come up in the future - anything you enquire to ask, at least 1 or 2 people will know a contact within Channel 4, it’s all about approaching the right people in the relevant department and it’s another way to show your initiative and eagerness to learn about all the other exciting opportunities there may be. The more you do this, the more your chance of getting referred is.
What’s the highlight of your day?
The highlight of my day is being able to work with some amazingly talented people who all made their own unique path into the media industry. I love meeting new people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Even today, I still meet new people every week and that’s what’s so exciting. It helps to develop better working relationships by just having a little chat every now and then, and you get to know about their roles as well. Everybody at Channel 4 is so open, honest and approachable and they will go out their own way to help you with anything.
What are your tasks/duties like?
A lot of writing but also a lot of talking (which I love)!!!
My tasks are:
9:00am Writing scripts for programme announcements by watching content or other internet-based research – this is usually done first thing in the morning.
12:00pm It's Lunchtime, I read through my scripts again to make any changes such as spellings, warnings/flaggings, etc.
2:00pm I have to do a read-through with the presentation team – this is done to make sure all scripts are correct and in the right order and they may suggest any other changes that you might have to make, one thing is that TV Schedules can change any time of day with very little notice so we have to be on our toes to make changes very quickly.
3:00pm Once they’re happy with everything, I then compile and send a list of all the warnings/flaggings for each programme that night, to the Duty Lawyer. A warning/flagging is something that has to be announced by the announcer because the programme may contain very sensitive footage such as strong language, violence. The Duty Lawyer will then confirm them if accepted.
4:00pm Then it gets even more exciting - I have to record my scripts – Voiceover work! This is the part that I enjoy the most as we get to create our own content. I go into a separate recording studio room and I record all the programme links for the Channel schedules. Talking on the mic is not as easy as it sounds. As I said earlier, you have to vary your voice tone depending on each programme. Examples could be – 24 Hours In A&E, chances are it could be very serious, so you have to keep an even tone, or you might get something funny like Cats Does Countdown where you can sound more upbeat. This is the fun part, but it can also be challenging. Recording sessions for programme links can usually take up to 2 hours but the more you feel comfortable with the mic, it becomes easier.
5:00pm Last job of the day, I DOUBLE CHECK everything that I’ve recorded, make sure that all the programme links are in the right place using the scheduling software we use at Channel4, and that I’ve recorded it to the correct timing of each link. I then send an email to the Duty Editor to confirm that everything is ready for the broadcast transmission.
7:00pm Later in the evening, I sit back and chill with the TV on and listen to my creation!
What do you enjoy most about your role/apprenticeship?
I enjoy writing scripts for TV announcements on Channel 4, what more could I want! I also enjoy networking with lots of different people every week and just being able to be myself in a professional working environment. All Channel 4 employees are unique in the way that they’re so open and honest with each other.
Is an apprenticeship what you thought it would be?
I’ve never really applied for one in the past, which is what was most exciting. I was really impressed with how the course was delivered but the most important part was how open Channel 4 was in giving me the required time to juggle my Continuity Announcer duties with the Qualification I was studying for.
Channel 4 provided me with extra time to complete some of the work I was doing which was very helpful. They understood that because our roles were sometimes very busy and challenging we would need more time if needed to finish other aspects of the course.
My course tutor was brilliantly patient and supportive of our needs and she was an excellent person to ask for advice on any work related to the qualification. I think what surprised me, more than anything, was how far I had gone in my role and proved myself wrong. Each apprentice probably had 1 day at work that defined how far they could maximise their potential. I surprised to see what I was actually capable of, whereas before, I previously played down my abilities, even in previous jobs. If it wasn’t for the amazing support from my Line Manager, course tutor, colleagues, other fellow apprentices, my friends etc, I would never have believed that I could complete my apprenticeship. For probably the first time in my life, I’m proud of what I gained in my Apprenticeship, but equally, I think it helps if you approach different experiences with an open and positive mind.
Why did you want to become an apprentice?
University never really crossed my mind, I was quite open in terms of what I wanted to do once I’d finished college, that was nearly 10 years ago! I was at a stage of my life where I’d previously undertaken jobs that were unfulfilling, boring, tedious and predictable. One big passion of mine is Writing, and where I come from in Cumbria, job opportunities in that field are very, very few and far between. I had a lightbulb moment where I decided to quit my job and have a real think over what I wanted to do. I initially took part in a work experience week with Continuity at Channel4 a few months before and that changed my ambitions.
An apprenticeship gives you a lot more exciting opportunities to seek out ways of maximising talented potential. I also wanted to experience living in a City, having previously worked and lived abroad for Eurocamp where I worked with so many different personalities from all backgrounds and whom of which I still keep in contact today so that helped me to raise my ambitions and just go for it.
I still remember getting the email from Channel 4 confirming that I was successful in gaining my place on the Apprenticeship scheme. It was a moment that changed my life and possibly forever going forwards.
How has MyKindaFuture helped you?
During my apprenticeship, I attended a Channel 4 Pop-Up event in Manchester which was organised in partnership with MyKindaFuture. It was a really great event to meet other young aspiring and talented individuals who were thinking about doing an apprenticeship within the Creative Media Industry. It was a great way to share my experiences and explain a little bit more about my awesome job in Continuity. I was really impressed with the enthusiasm of the people who were in attendance, and some of their ideas were wicked in the tasks that C4 had set them to do. But what impressed me most was how well organised the event was by My Kinda Future, they delivered a positivity to an event that I’d never seen before. The two main hosts, Jodie and Rae were wicked to be around, they really engaged with the young audiences and were just really vibrant all day, helping them to feel involved and really connect with us.
Since then, I managed to get a contact from Rae and he advised me to get in touch with one of the staff at MyKindaFuture, so I arranged to meet and have a chat with the Head of Communications, Emma, about the lack of Diversity and Inclusion within the Media sector and I wanted to find a way to pass on my amazing experiences to other younger people who may have felt nervous about applying for an apprenticeship because of their disadvantages. I strongly feel no matter what walk of life you come from, you have a unique talent that needs to be unlocked. MyKindaFuture invited me to their annual end of year meeting to give a presentation on why Diversity & Inclusion needs to be further represented in the media industry. I was terrified because presentations aren’t my thing at all, but they were all patient and amazing people to talk to about the matter. I got loads of contacts from them and I’ve now been made a voluntary ambassador for Diversity & Inclusion at MyKindaFuture where I take part in research and speaking opportunities to help spread the awareness of D&I focus in all parts of the employment industry. My Kinda Future are really engaging and very helpful people who make everybody feel welcome and have their voices heard and are wicked for tips on CV’s and how to apply for some big companies which can be a very daunting experience for any young person. I’m hoping that from my amazing experience, it will inspire other talented young people to think about applying for a job in the Creative Media Industry.