How I got a BBC job after I quit engineering at the start of COVID-19 – Business Insider

This story is part of “How the Pandemic Changed My Career,” an Insider series documenting the moves and moments that shaped people’s careers over the last two years.
When I gave my one-month notice in February 2020, I’d taken a huge leap of faith. I’d just quit a job I was deeply unhappy in. I was moving from London back home to Yorkshire and had no job lined up. 
I was designing bridges for HS2, the UK’s biggest rail project. We’d follow the proposed route area by area and decide whether to build new bridges or strengthen existing ones. I never enjoyed it. 
But there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. 
I’d arrogantly thrown a stable, £31,000-a-year job away.
I pulled my hair out every single day for five months, watching all my friends being cushioned by furlough or enjoying daily walks in between Zoom meetings — and still being paid.
By the third week of August, I was fed up with job rejection emails. I’d applied for everything from sales jobs to the civil service, but I still couldn’t bring myself to revisit engineering. When my parents left the house for their daily walk, I sat on my bed and screamed into my pillow. I’d never felt so frustrated, trapped, and powerless.
On one of those frustrating days, a talent manager for a media company, All3Media, phoned. I’d met her a year before, when I was working in London and trying to widen my professional network beyond engineers. I was trying to find a way into film and TV — where I’d dreamt of working but didn’t know how to get into.
I’d reached out to her during lockdown in the hope that she might need an employee. By chance, she had some remote admin work in All3Media’s music department for two weeks.
The two weeks eventually turned into two months. They’d trusted a total newcomer to the industry to complete the work remotely from home — something I’d begged to do as an engineer but had been refused. Not being from London — where Britain’s media industry is still overwhelmingly based — this was a role that I’d never have been chosen for pre-pandemic.  
This was winter 2020, when the COVID-19 rules in England allowed people to “bubble” with certain conditions.
For five weeks, I was “bubbled” in a Holiday Inn, masked up and running around after a group of demanding reality stars.
I’d be on my feet 12 hours at a time, squeezing the odd five-minute break in here and there in the presence of ever-judging eyes, all for minimum wage.
It was mentally challenging and so physically demanding, I lost a significant amount of weight. I was suddenly very aware of how spoilt I’d been in my engineering job.
I took a risk and applied for an eight-week development traineeship at Studio Lambert, a TV company that made the global hit “Gogglebox.” I thought I wasn’t qualified and would never get it. I did.
As well as working to develop real shows, I had structured training sessions where I learned how to think of and pitch ideas for new ones. Two of the existing ideas I worked on got commissioned and will be filmed this year. The traineeship was extended to six months and I was asked to stay and continue to work on new ideas, where I really had the chance to refine my pitching and writing skills.
I thought I was a logical, practical engineer, not a free-thinking creative with crazy ideas. My Studio Lambert bosses built my confidence from the ground up.
I make sure the complicated science can be translated onscreen and made interesting for the general public.
My engineering background has equipped me well for getting my head around some of the most confusing physics theories.
It forced me to seek opportunities outside of my comfort zone. I jumped ship from a job where I couldn’t wear jeans or trainers to a job where I could’ve gotten away with wearing my pyjamas.
Pre-pandemic, I took my time for granted. Post-pandemic, I’ll be utilizing my time and choosing meaningful projects to work on while building up my creative network. But that’s not to say I won’t be seeing my engineer friends for a drink every so often.
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