Caroline Bingham, Business Development Executive at Pro Motion Hire, writes about her career change from freelance sound recordist to accommodate motherhood, and the Media Parents technical workshop on January 31st that will highlight technical changes over the past year.
I’d wanted to work in the television industry since I was a teenager. I loved the idea of working in documentaries and being able to be part of a team telling people’s stories. Against school career advice I embarked on a practical media degree and in 1999 headed to London from Sheffield to start on the path of my chosen route, camera and sound operation. I worked long hours for low pay for 2 years as a kit technician and in-house camera and sound assistant. The work paid off and in 2002 I took the step to become a freelance location sound recordist. With the aid of a Skillset grant I attended a residential course at the BBC Wood Norton College in Worcestershire to consolidate my training and so my freelance career began. I loved being on location and felt privileged to be involved with projects filming diverse and fascinating subjects.
However, working as a freelancer is hard. You have no support, the hours are erratic and you never have any idea when the next pay cheque is going to arrive. In my late twenties I started to give my future some serious thought and just couldn’t see how on earth it was possible to have a young family and work as a freelance sound recordist. I had no family close by to call on at the drop of hat to look after children and couldn’t envisage a flexible enough childcare scheme that would allow me to call at 6pm the night before and book my children in for the next day. I knew of very few female crew members to ask for their advice or use them as role models (Media Parents sadly didn’t exist then) and so started putting steps in place to move into a more secure career choice. I didn’t want to leave the industry I’d worked so hard to enter and so could only see a change in role as a long term viable option.
Using my experience I took a permanent staff position booking crews and equipment for shoots. I’ve always felt quite entrepreneurial and wanted to seek more of a business development role and was fortunate enough to have been offered that role, in which I still work today.
In 2010 I fell pregnant and to my surprise and shock my husband and I discovered we were expecting identical twins! In the September of that year Connor and Curtis were born and my world changed forever. It was a challenging first year but I always thought I would want to return to work. I’d worked so hard for many years to reach a level of expertise, knowledge and contacts within the industry and wasn’t prepared to give that all up. However making the decision to return to work after a baby wasn’t an easy one. Having two also made the decision tougher with the cost of childcare to consider. I was incredibly fortunate to be working for Pro Motion Hire which was very happy for me to return on a part-time basis. I know it’s not always easy for companies to offer this opportunity but felt so grateful to be in a company where being a mother didn’t mean the end of the road for my career if I didn’t want to work full-time.
Being a working mum has given me a new perspective and I believe it has made me better at my job. I feel a more rounded individual but returning to work was daunting. I work in a technical sales roles and was very worried about how much the industry would have moved on in the year I’d been away and how out of my depth I might feel. It was that anxiety that gave me the inspiration to address this issue for other people returning to the industry after a career break such as maternity leave. We are about to host our first workshop highlighting industry changes in the last year, what new camera equipment has been released and what is expected for the forthcoming year. Media Parents is the perfect partner for us to hold these workshops with. It’s about offering a helping hand to build up the confidence in those that are at a time in their career where confidence isn’t sky high. It’s a chance to get the old grey cells whirring again and an opportunity to meet others in the same situation.
If you are interested in knowing more about the January 31st event or would like to register please contact firstname.lastname@example.org