Yesterday we told you about the supposed “graduate brain drain” crisis that scare-mongery types have been, uh, scare-mongering about. Well, they say you should face your fears, so we talked to one such talented graduate who’s toddled off to France to make his fortune.
Stuart Hodge, 23, graduated from university in June 2011, and scored a job a month later. He now is a freelance sports broadcaster, working in Paris for the likes of Radio France International and Eurosport.
So how did you get into broadcasting, Stuart?
I left school at 16 and worked in a variety of different jobs (mainly call centres), before working as an actor, which included becoming a drama practitioner for the council and playing Santa at Christmas, I couldn’t be arsed to audition for drama schools, so decided to use my skills to write and talk about sport. I looked at different courses and got advice from the Broadcast Journalist Training Council.
What was their advice?
They suggested I go to Staffordshire University, which is what some posh types will call a “polytechnic” and not one of their “red brick universities”, but it’s got one of the best journalism courses. It was an investment for me, putting a few thousand grand in…
Was it worth going to university?
Yes! I was nominated for the Journalism Student of the Year Prize at the Midlands Media Awards and left with a first.
Oh wow! Congratulations. So how did you start working abroad?
Before I graduated, I’d started making inroads. I got a job at the Shropshire Star which was halfway between local and national. I was on the sports desk, but I left for a combination of reasons and I wanted to talk rather than sit at a desk.
So you had a job in the UK?
Yes. Although there was an opportunity to work in the UK, there wasn’t a job to do exactly what I wanted to do. The reason that I’m over here is not necessarily because there are no jobs in the UK, it’s because I can only do what I want to over here.
Was it easy upping sticks to France?
It’s a bureaucratic nightmare. ’Bureaucracy’ derives from French and it seems accidental until you come here and try to get anything done. I was lucky, I had a colleague that was willing to put me up while I found a place. But trying to find accommodation over here is not just expensive but very difficult for someone that is not a native speaker. I had a bit of money behind me, and I was lucky that I could borrow some from my parents – that’s the hard part. The actual work was the easy.
Is learning a language important?
If you wanted to come abroad for anything more than two months, you need to have a rudimental knowledge of the language or put in a lot of work at it. I can just about transcribe an interview. It’s an important skill to have…but if you don’t have it, you just need the passion and the aptitude.