The BBC Production Trainee Scheme – The Complete Guide

Applications for the BBC Production Trainee Scheme are open until the 29th of March at midnight. If you’re looking to throw your hat into the ring we’ve got good news for you – we’ve compiled everything you need to know about your application and the scheme. 

The application page for the trainee scheme for the job provides a lot of helpful information. But we get it, applying for jobs can be stressful. So to smooth things out, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the scheme into one article. Swish.

The Scheme

Fancy being part of this year’s intake? (Image Credit: BBC)

The applications open in March, but the training itself doesn’t start until Autumn 2020, so you’ve got a bit of time for a breather before things kick off. If successful in your application, you’d start the new season with a 10-month-long role in the BBC, that would pay £21,216 per year for those based outside of London, and £25,776 for those inside the capital. It’s worth noting those wages are per year, so you’d be getting slightly under those amounts for a 10 month placement.

We need you – and just 29 other people to make more pieces like this.

While this year’s scheme is focused with the BBC Three team, across digital and social media, you’ll develop a whole range of skills. Trainee get to take part in a combination of hands-on work placements in a range of production teams and set learning with the BBC Academy, the educational arm of the BBC. After you’ve finished the scheme you’ll be qualified to apply for entry-level positions across the BBC in roles in TV, digital, and radio output.

Laura Gaynor, award-winning freelance producer who did the scheme in 2017/18, tells Journo Resources the benefit has also been who you meet. Since doing the scheme, I’ve been mostly freelancing in production and digital media and have a much bigger contact book thanks to the scheme”.

The work placements will be either in Birmingham or London, and the training could be carried out in either Birmingham, London, or Salford. You can state your preferred location within the application, but it’s worth noting they can’t always accommodate for this, so do allow for some flexibility. Similarly, the job won’t always fit into the standard nine to five format. You’ll have to be happy with slightly unconventional hours in order to be happy in this role.

“I found an original Windrush story which resulted in a family being reunited and I got to make a film about the future of London’s phone boxes which was later picked up by British Airways.”

Laura Gaynor

The scheme offers you the opportunity to work on a range of content across BBC Three, and considering the mix of stuff that they put together, there’s a lot scope to do cool stuff – and you can expect placements within different areas of the Beeb too. For Laura, this meant everything from BBC Films to Newsnight to The Travel Show. “I acquired fantastic experience,” she tells us. “At BBC Films I sat on an interview panel for a short film funding award.

“At Newsnight I found an original Windrush story which resulted in a family being reunited, helped plan an OB (outside broadcast) in Derry, and produced a film with their Culture Correspondent – as well as lots of experience on the ‘day desk’ and on their digital team. At The Travel Show, I got to make a film for BBC World News TV/BBC News UK about the future of London’s phone boxes, and this was later picked up by British Airways for their inflight entertainment!”

This scheme won’t put you directly into one job, but gives you the option to go into many different careers. The application page for the job suggests you could be a runner, researcher, casting researcher, development researcher, or social media assistant after this scheme. Still want more information? Laura suggests taking a look at the BBC Academy website to get a feel for the scheme. “There are a lot of videos and blogs that have been made by the BBC Academy about the schemes, make sure you take a look.”

The Application Process

Time to get to work on crafting your application. (Image Credit: Gift Habeshaw/Unsplash)

The application is split into three sections. Firstly, you have to fill out an application form, outlining why you’re interested in the scheme and the BBC in general. This is your chance to write about any experience you’ve had, as well as outlining your opinions on the current content produced by the BBC.

Laura talks to Journo Resources about her experiences.

“Think about everything you’ve done, and how it relates to what they’re looking for on the scheme,” advises Laura. “You won’t be able to mention everything – but there may be some less obvious experience you have which demonstrate your personal qualities, drive, creativity or uniqueness.”

On the note of timescales, she adds that it’s important to take your time.“You need to allow adequate time to write it, [but] this doesn’t need to be hours. I think it’s best to spend about 20 mins a day on it in the week or two leading up to the deadline, then focus on it for the last day or two.”

According to Laura, the best way to approach the application is to “draft, draft, and draft again”. “It should be hopping off the page when you submit it,” she continues, and adds you should also “read and watch lots of BBC content, and also research the BBC itself. You should have a good understanding of the core values and also be familiar with the content”.

“Consider too, this is effectively a dream-job for a year, so it is worth you spending a few evenings putting an application together on that alone. This might sound odd, but the answers you write will also serve you well for any other jobs you apply for – so it’s a very good exercise to do.”

“Draft, draft, and draft your application again. It should be hopping off the page when you submit it.”

Laura Gaynor

If your application is successful, you’ll go onto the video interview stage. This is just like a normal interview but, well, through a video. To help you prepare for interview questions, you can check out this guide from BBC Academy. Finally, you’ll be invited to an assessment day at the BBC.

If this seems a bit scary, that’s okay. We asked Laura what advice she’d give someone feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of applying for this scheme, and she said: “The numbers seem steep, however remember there are several stages to the application. They don’t go from 3000-odd to 12 at once.

“They break it down to perhaps a few hundred for the video interviews, then again for the assessment day. So, when you look at it that way, you actually have a pretty good chance of getting through to the second round, and after that the numbers whilst still very high, are non insurmountable”

What Are They Looking For?

Searching for that A* holiday destination… or maybe job applicants. (Image Credit: Element 5 Digital / Unsplash)

The BBC makes it very clear that they’re not overly concerned with your formal qualifications or formal job experience for this scheme. Just to hammer that home – you don’t need a degree. Equally, don’t sweat it if you don’t have a CV overloaded with shiny placements. Sure, these won’t hurt your application, but they’re not absolutely necessary.

However, this scheme isn’t for people without any experience. It also is not suitable for people who have had continuous paid work in the media industry, especially within production, for more than 12 months.

For this placement, you have to prove you care about creating content and have a passion for producing programmes. Maybe you can show this through your experience with vlogging, within student media, or through work experience you’ve already undertaken. If you’re looking for something more beginner, you can check out the BBC’s Production Apprenticeship Scheme instead. 

“There are people from all walks of life who get onto the Production Trainee Scheme.”

Laura Gaynor

The scheme also wants someone who’s voice isn’t currently being heard at the BBC, and who has an opinion on how the BBC can shake things up and reach new audiences. Everyone has an opinion on the way the Beeb works, if yours is based upon constructive criticism, that might just work in your favour.

In an attempt to diversify their workforce, all BBC applications are advertised on Verdica – the UK’s leading diversity and inclusion careers site – and the BBC say they’re committed to “good working environment for all existing and potential staff ensuring equal treatment for all of our employees”. If you’re a disabled applicant, you have the option to go through the BBC Extend Hub to ensure all of your accessibility requirements are met.

Reflecting on her cohort during her time on the Production Trainee Scheme, Laura said: There are people from all walks of life who get on the Production Trainee Scheme, and from lots of different educational backgrounds, I went to my local school in the west of Ireland and then to college at the National Film School at IADT in Dublin”.

Right, Just Round That Up For Me?

The BBC Production Trainee Scheme is open now for applicants with the ability to demonstrate their passion for production. They don’t mind about your professional qualifications, and do mind about your motivation and ability to demonstrate creative skills.

Applying for a position at the BBC might seem daunting, but don’t sweat it. Sit back, relax, put some effort and sparkle into your application (which you’ll write with plenty of time to spare, obviously), and keep those fingers crossed. You’ve got this.

This article was compiled by Bethany Dawson. You can follow her on Twitter here.