How my NBCUniversal placement helped me get a job at the BBC – Abbie Smith, Film and TV Studies

Abbie Smith graduated in 2017 from our BA (Hons) Film and Television Studies course at the University of Portsmouth. Abbie tells us how her placement helped her get her current job at the BBC and why students should “take the plunge” and do a placement.

Abbie Smith at graduation

Company you currently work for

I work for BBC Creative which is the BBC’s in-house creative agency who make on air, off air, digital and social short-form content for their UK brands. I am a Creative which means I conceptualise, write and edit promotional videos for all BBC Brands.


Your placement year

I spent a year in 2015-16 working as an On-Air Creative Intern at NBCUniversal. Based in the Universal Networks International division in the creative department, my role involved conceptualising, writing and editing promotional videos for UK and wider European channels. These included Universal Channel, Syfy, Movies 24, E!, 13th Street, Studio Universal and DIVA.

Abbie Smith - Heroes Reborn

My main responsibility was creating promotional videos for on air and off air, social media assets and marketing reels for the UK and wider European channels. On a daily basis I would watch the different channel content, come up with an idea and edit it to market a new programme, series of films or marketing stunt. I also acted as head runner on many different production shoots for our channels, while also filming behind the scenes reels for the social platforms.

Abbie Smith - Shoot Day! Filming with this cadillac!

What are the benefits of doing a placement?

  • Great experience of what you could be doing after you graduate.
  • Earning money whilst learning something new.
  • Meeting skilled colleagues who have similar interests to you.

What have you got out of doing a placement?

The experience I gained whilst on placement meant that I was in a great position for applying for jobs when I graduated.

The company completely made the experience that much better. There were lots of great film events to attend like premieres and screenings, etc. and the company always had great involvement in charitable events and LGBT Pride which was amazing.

Abbie Smith - London Pride

What was your greatest success or achievement?

I think seeing my work on TV for the first time was a great achievement for me.

What did you least enjoy?

The commute every day, but the job made it worth it.

Some of the fabulous BBC Creative team

What concerns did you have before going on placement?

It was my first professional job so I was very nervous about my creative ability and if the work I produced was worthy. After learning the ropes and the various processes in the TV industry, I become more confident in the work I was producing.

What advice would you give to someone concerned about doing a placement?

Take the plunge. You may be worried about not being with your friends for final year or whether or not you can do the job, but it’s all worth it. If it’s a job that you’re interested in, then you will forget your concerns straight away.

What new skills did you develop?

I am now a skilled editor and copy writer which are both things I never thought I could do professionally. I am also a lot more confident in my abilities.

Did you apply anything you learned at university?

The filming and editing skilled I learned at university really helped me when starting the job. If I didn’t know avid, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.

What training did you do?

No official training, it was all on the job and learn as you go, which in my opinion is the best way to learn.  I now know lots of different things about editing and writing and all the processes associated with the television industry.

Did the placement help you with your career decisions?

It made me decide what I wanted to do for my career, and I don’t think I would have known these jobs existed if I didn’t do a placement.

Did the placement help you get your current job?

Yes! In my interview they were really interested about my placement and really impressed by my work so I definitely wouldn’t have got the job if I hadn’t had the placement experience.

Abbie Smith - desk with screens
Abbie’s desk at the BBC

What would you say to students who aren’t sure whether to do a placement?

I’ll admit that it’s not for everyone, but if you really want to learn more about the industry you’re interested in whilst still in education, then this is the way for you. It will also put you in a really great place when you graduate. Take the plunge, it’s worth it.

What advice would you give to students regarding their placement search?

Look for placements that make you excited when you read the job descriptions. Make sure you present yourself as ‘hungry’ for the job and eager to learn. Your attitude is the most important thing when applying because you may not have the experience to back your abilities, but companies are always looking for young people who are willing to do a great job and learn a lot about the industry.

Find out more about my work

You can look at examples of my recent work on Vimeo.

Want to know more about Abbie’s placement at NBCUniversal?

Read Abbie’s placement blog post.

Find out more about our film, TV and media courses

Visit the University of Portsmouth website.



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