Creatives in the Industry: Q&A with Joey from STEP 5

Joey candidly takes us on his winding witty journey to working as a trainee at the BBC; from facing ups and downs in formal education to navigating a pandemic job market

7 August 2023


My name’s Joey Williams and I’m based in Bow, Tower Hamlets. I’m an Early Careers Trainee with the BBC Proms.

How would I describe the work I do?

This might make my job seem super tech-involved, and it can be at times, but I don’t spend every day in front of a screen.

In fact, the most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the impact of the musical training we provide to children. I never thought I’d be paid to put world-renowned orchestral musicians together with a group of school children from Hackney, into a band. Simon Cowell, eat your heart out!

But not everything’s perfect, and there are some parts of my job that aren’t as exciting. The least enjoyable aspect of my job, and probably any job, is meetings. I know they’re important, but do we really need to spend half an hour discussing “something to smile about” on a Monday morning? Maybe this is a bit harsh; after all, Susan has been waiting all week to tell us in great detail, how lovely her cinnamon bun was on the weekend.

The journey I took to get where I am now was definitely not a straight road, more of a winding Amsterdam back alley to a hostel after spending far too long drinking coffee. After achieving an impressive C in Biology and a U in Chemistry (which, to my dismay does not mean ‘upstanding’) I decided I was adequately skilled to pursue a career in Science.

Unfortunately, those pesky university academics disagreed, so the best I could get was a foundation year in Biology at Oxford…Brookes. However, my dreams of becoming a universally adored Biologist inevitably crumbled as the reality of spending a year of my life commuting to a Six Form College in a sad little town outside Oxford set in.

Having dropped out of University, I decided I needed to do some soul searching to try and find my purpose in life, and most importantly, what degree I could do to justify asking my parents for more money. Although this comprised mostly of playing video games and wasting copious amounts of time during ‘the best years of your life’, I finally decided on History. Despite having never studied History and barely comprehending what a degree in History would entail, I truly did develop a love for the field. I was not a studious person and am still not to this day, but what I lacked in academic prowess I made up with a genuine interest in certain subjects, those being music, culture and European fascism between 1930-1945.

After just scraping a 2:1 by literally one point, I was truly invigorated and excited to start an extremely lucrative and accomplished career. This mood, however, was immediately cut short when I graduated during an unprecedented global pandemic which significantly limited my job prospects.

After spending 2 months working for the 2021 Census – which involved harassing elderly people into sharing their personal information – I found a saving grace in the UK Government’s Kickstart scheme. This gave me my first foray into corporate life. I learnt a lot during those 6 months, mostly the many ways in which I was inadequate and unorganised, but after some time and a few missed deadlines, I became more knowledgeable and capable with project management, prioritisation and above all my own confidence to both manage and effectively collaborate with my team on projects. You may now be thinking ‘great you became boring’, which is true, but I also gained something much more important: money and a job at the BBC.

I am however missing a crucial step here, which is Good Growth Hub’s STEP programme. Not only has STEP provided us with an incredible opportunity to work with some of the most respected and influential institutions in the country, but they have also provided us with a truly invaluable network of friends and collaborators for life. Together we continue to develop our networking, project management, collaborative and creative skills. What’s great about collaborating with such a diverse team is learning that all of us have had entirely unique experiences and passions. But it’s this diversity of life that makes collaborating so valuable. I particularly enjoyed the elevator pitches we were tasked to do during our meetings. Seeing a group of quasi-strangers nervously sell themselves for the opportunity of a lifetime made me feel a lot less alone in navigating this new journey.

I would highly recommend STEP as I feel like I have gained invaluable experience both professionally and socially. I’ve seen myself grow in confidence and begin to understand the different skills and knowledge you need to thrive in a creative role. In addition to this, I now have a network of mentors and fellow creatives that are always more than happy to share their ideas and help each other out.

At the time of writing this blog, I’ve only been working as a trainee for the BBC for four months, but I can truly say I’ve learned so much in this time. The best piece of advice I’ve received so far has been to be someone your team can rely on, both professionally and socially. We’re all people at the end of the day and you can’t ever fully separate that from your workplace.

Let me finish off with a cliché: the most valuable thing I’ve learned during this experience would be to never underestimate yourself. Before I found STEP, I had started to give up any chance of having a creative career. Thanks to the STEP team, I feel like an infinite number of doors have just opened for me and I’m very grateful that STEP is there to guide me towards the right doors.

You may also be interested in...