If you are looking for a stable career with a good pension and years of secure, risk free employment then broadcast media probably isn’t the area of work you should be heading for. In reality very few jobs in the media offer this level of security. Sadly the nature of the business is so volatile and commission dependent that employers take people on to work on a project-by-project basis. This means that most job offers come with either freelance, short or fixed-term contracts. This is totally normal and most people get used to having short gaps between jobs.
There are very few staff jobs to be had, particularly at a junior level. While the BBC used to offer staff jobs in a range of production related roles, these days Corporations work more like Independent Production companies, looking for a more flexible, contract-based work force. If you are lucky, contracts merge together effectively giving you full-time employment. Be aware that if you have worked on back-to-back contracts at the BBC you may find they ask you to take a contract break, to avoid having to give you a staff contract.
If you are lucky enough to get a staff job at the BBC or with other large media employers, you can expect to enjoy a range of benefits including pensions. The BBC is one of the few places where as a member of staff you get the opportunity to move around different departments and jobs roles and also move up the career ladder while keeping your staff status. However if you have taken a staff job at the BBC that’s in a non-production area it can be extremely difficult to cross into production.
It’s quite normal to build an entire career working on freelance and short-term contracts. Employees are expected to move around the industry, from production company to production company, or from one post production facility to another. Over time you will find that you have “favourites” that you return to time and time again, and if your lucky a week long contract can turn into a month and then a year, as you move around productions within a company. But it’s not unusual to work somewhere for just a few weeks and when you are starting out this may be a few days. Many people in the media love the variety and flexibility this offers but you have to expect periods of unemployment and need to budget accordingly. The trick is to start looking for a new job several weeks before you are due to finish your current contract.
At the start of your career you may find you are having to get fill-in work between production contracts just to survive and pay the bills.