MAHESH Varsani and Dave Bull are in their second year of an HND course at Ravensbourne College in Bromley, Kent. Like most students on strongly vocational media courses, they had a range of post-school experience before starting training.
Mahesh had worked for five years as a computer hardware maintenance engineer. But as the technology moved on, he could see the work being taken over by software experts.
A fascination with the stunts and illusions of television led him to swap his salary for a student loan while he does a course in digital technology, which includes production, post-production, directing and floor managing. He had already done a management course while working and hopes to go into systems engineering.
A year travelling to Australia and an uncle who was a cameraman for NBC news gave Dave the ambition to make documentaries abroad.
Before starting the HND, he did an Access to HE Media course, which enabled him to build p a portfolio of small projects on sound, as well as moving and still photography.
When he qualifies, he hopes to work for a rental agency. These companies hire out equipment and teams of people and Dave believes they can be a good way of getting experience in a largely freelance world.
Between them, they have clocked up a good range of work placements through the Ravensbourne course, including Wimbledon, shadowing a news team with Carlton, working on an outside broadcast truck and going with Sony Broadcasting to the Amsterdam trade fair.
They agree that personal skills are crucial in this kind of media work. "It's about consideration for other people," said Dave. "You can be with them for 15 or 16 hours a day for up to two weeks and you have to cope with whatever gets thrown at you."
An ex-BBC employee told him that success is 40 per cent being able to do the job and 60 per cent being able to get on with the other people.