If your ambition is to work in television, a BA in Creative Writing will give you the edge against tough competition. Ioanna Mavragani is a Programme Executive for MEGA TV, working with scriptwriters and editors to develop content for programmes about Greek fiction.
Since graduating from Essex, where has your journey taken you?
After graduating Essex, I followed a lifelong dream of mine to live somewhere far from home for a while and meet a different part of the world. I worked as an English teacher in China for nearly a year, gaining experience and memories that will last a lifetime. After leaving China, I came back home thinking that it would be just a pit stop before finding my next destination and moving to another country, but it turned out I was wrong and instead I found my career path. I started working in the TV industry, specializing on script editing and I fell in love with it. More than seven years later, I am still following that career path, steps ahead from when I first started, aiming for my goals.
Why did you decide to study at Essex?
The most important reason was that I found the course structure very interesting, and it was a good university in total. Secondly, I thought the university campus looked very good and it was close to London, which was very important for my 18year-old self that wanted to visit the big city often.
What did you enjoy most about your studies? Which modules or areas of research did you particularly enjoy?
I enjoyed the whole Essex experience! I loved my course, I made great friends and I took part in different societies. I loved all of my creative writing modules. They gave me the chance to practice what I loved and explore my style and my voice. This doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the other modules, literature is the heart of our course, so reading and analysing great works of literature made me a better writer and a better person.
What is your favourite memory of your time studying at Essex?
I will never forget my graduation! It was the time that all my hard work paid off. I can't say though that it is my one favourite memory of my university years. I lived so many great things there, I have good memories and bad memories, but they all made my time there unique. Essex became my home, and my friends became my family, and I will always be grateful.
How did you find your current job?
I started working in TV 7plus years ago. At that time, I had sent my CV to the HR department of a tv channel, they called me for a series of interviews, they liked me, and I started out as an assistant. Throughout the years I have been working hard and as a result I am moving up, I am evolving, and I am following my dream career path. My general advice for young people who want to start any career, not just a similar one to mine, is to keep on applying to job postings, to keep on sending their CVs to companies even if there is no current opening. Hard work and initiative are very important, because they are the things that will make someone stand out. Also, our jobs are a very big part of our life, so for me it is very important that we follow are dreams and passions, because we will be better, and we will enjoy it more.
Please describe a typical day in your current job:
I work on specific projects, so my focus is on the needs of the project that I am running each time. Throughout my day I mostly read scripts and talk with screenwriters in order to work and make changes to what they have written and make the project as good as we can. I watch the first cut of episodes and then give directions to the montage where and when it is needed, in order to take the final cut that will air on screen. I talk and work with directors, production teams and people on various positions in the channel I am working at. I love the creative process, the brainstorming and watching something come into being after having imagined it and visualized it.
What words of advice would you give to new students?
The university has a variety of societies and clubs, giving its students the opportunity to try many different activities. My advice for the new students would be to take part in as many societies as they can and experience as many different things as possible. This is how student life becomes more enjoyable! Also, never underestimate the power of the lectures and how important and helpful they are for your student career. Last, but not least... invest in people! Make new friends, share experiences with them and lifelong friendships may be born.
Do you have any current challenges?
At this point of my career things are thankfully going smoothly. I would like to take this opportunity though and talk about another part of my life besides my career and that is volunteering. I am a volunteer and member of an NGO, called Ithaca Laundry. Ithaca operates Europe's first mobile laundry unit for the homeless and offers reintegration services to reduce the social exclusion of the homeless. Until today, Ithaca has helped over 8,000 people. Volunteers go in the field to operate the laundry and drying machines, in order to clean the clothes that homeless and people in need bring. During the winter the NGO organizes some night missions, where volunteers go around the city of Athens giving to homeless people blankets and some basic clothing (such as socks and gloves) to fight the cold.
What’s your next step? What are you working towards in your career?
I am always working towards getting better, this way my hard work and results will be recognized, and my career will keep on going forward.
Would you say your degree is relevant to what you are doing now?
My degree is quite similar to my job. I studied writing, structure along with creativity and imagination. Things that are very important in my area of work. While studying I never really thought of what kind of job I wanted. I was focused on absorbing as much of my degree as possible and enjoying my time studying.