Patrick Lay

Patrick Lay media graduate outside Sky Studios

After graduating in 2020 with a 1st class honours in BA Hons Media Production, I have been recruited by Sky in their Content Services department, which is a legacy of doing BCU’s flagship Sky scholarship.

Company you work for: Sky

Did you always want to study your chosen subject at university or did you change your mind when you were researching/applying?

With a huge interest in sport and local interest, I set up my YouTube channel in 2015. Realising my untapped potential, my desire to gain a media qualification grew. So in 2017 I attended the BCU open day. The incredible facilities, opportunities and potential industry contacts gave me such a burning desire to do a Media degree here.

Back in the mid-90s, I came close to doing a GNVQ in Media Studies at Sixth form college as I had a desire to break into the industry even then. But as I wondered what were the chances of getting that ‘big break’, I opted for Business Studies instead as it felt like a ‘safer bet’ at the time. However, deep down there was always that ‘what if’ feeling for me and when I set up my own YouTube channel, I realised the world of media was something I could and should have broken into 20 years ago. It was the 2017 BCU open day that reinforced my gut feeling as far as my media career was concerned – I really had to go for it this time.

What challenges did you face while studying here, and what support did BCU/your Faculty provide you during your degree?

Being a mature student, it was a huge financial decision to pause 20 years of full-time work and return to full-time education as well as my added psychological pressure of having left University in the late 90s at the end of my first year. So my biggest challenges were managing my urgency to make up for lost time and feeling vindicated in making this bold move to do this media degree. However, I soon developed excellent relationships with both staff and students and worked on some highly enjoyable media collaborations. The faculty always supported me when I was concerned about my progress, initial teething problems with being at Uni and the lecturers and tech department always made time for me whenever I wanted to develop my different skill base and provided excellent advice about how to gain industry experience.

In what way do you think BCU developed you as a person for you to flourish in your chosen career path?

BCU School of Media staff have such a wealth of industry experience that they were excellent mentors to channel me towards my desire to work in the TV industry. They were approachable at all times and had that great balance of identifying areas I could improve on whilst recognising my strengths as they always encouraged me to believe in my own ability. It was their advice with media job applications and for interviews that certainly helped me to gain the industry opportunities I have.

Did you gain any relevant experience whilst studying at BCU that allowed you to easily adapt to your job role?

I gained a real variety of media experience which initially included presenting on BCU’s Scratch TV and Scratch Radio in the first year. In my second year, I worked on several ‘West Midlands Live’ TV shows as a Sports Reporter for Birmingham TV. I also did a written blog for I Am Birmingham and helped as a researcher to arrange some guests to appear on a show on Big City Radio.

I feel that this experience as well as my desire for the industry was key to me being one of the four BCU students selected for Sky’s flagship 2-week scholarship where I won the 2019 best performer award. My hard-working approach made it easier to understand the different roles I was shown in in my fortnight at Sky. I feel that both my willingness to learn when on this placement and the rapport I built within their Content Services team very much laid the foundation for my current role with them.

What key skills have you been able to take into life since leaving BCU/ your job role and how have these helped you excel?

At all times I apply a hard-working attitude to my job and embrace new ideas and challenges. These skills are essential for any job as is the ability to work well with others and have a flexible working approach.

If you have any advice for anyone who is studying the course you studied, what would you say?

Immerse yourself in every opportunity and always make a point of interacting with the staff about different industry experiences you would like to gain. Make best use of the amazing facilities on offer, BCU’s links within the media industry and the staff knowhow and support – you really can learn and develop a lot here.

Can you tell us some exciting things you have been involved in since leaving BCU/ starting your new job role?

Well the pandemic has of course been very restrictive not least of all with employment uncertainty a year ago. However, whilst applying and waiting on their replies, I took the opportunity to be creative and wrote and produced about 10 different interviews for my YouTube channel via Zoom. This included a well-known UK actor, a local musician, a retired professional footballer, a Midlands based tennis coach and different personalities I’ve met through BCU to showcase their own projects they have been working on.

What does BCU mean to you?

BCU means a great deal to me indeed. I had built a good portfolio with my YouTube channel for two years before my degree and had a hunger to break into the industry. But I honestly feel that it was only by doing my media degree at this University that I could truly build on this. If I was to use three words to sum up my time at BCU, they would be positivity, opportunity and encouragement.