Success Stories

George Jones

Sound Operator, Sky

“For such a long time I had to watch people around me getting on with their lives...“

Five years after graduating with an Audio and Music Production degree, George’s determination to pursue a career in television is finally paying off as he embarks on a new role as a Sound Operator at Sky.  Finally getting his career back on track following six months out to be a carer to his convalescing mother is a huge relief to George and his family.  He considers landing such an opportunity not just a victory for himself but for the MAMA Youth Project who gave him the hands on experience to go into the world with real skills that could be utilised in the television industry.

How did you feel when you found out you’d got the Sound Operator job at Sky?

Amazing! It was such a relief to know that my persistence was worth it because I'd invested a lot of time trying to get to this stage alone.

What were you doing before joining the MAMA Youth Project? 

I was unemployed, but I had previously been working in a local music studio for very little pay. I started going to the studio for experience after my regular working hours and eventually left my administrative role to work at the studio full time. The shifts were extremely long and working nearly every weekend left me with a non-existent work/life balance.  

Although I was very grateful to actually be working in a studio and was keen to develop my skills, I had begun to doubt if the situation I was in was even worth it, but I hated the thought of going back to the admin jobs I’d worked in the past even more.  My frustrations with the studio job continued to grow and my decision to leave coincided with my Mum needing a carer for an extended period after having surgery on her back.  

Once my Mum had fully recovered I had the task of trying to pick up my career after over 6 months out.  Needless to say I struggled to gain employment within the world of audio production which was a huge disappointment.

What were your career expectations at that time?

It was so hard to find an entry-level role in sound without any contacts or previous credible professional experience but I was determined to pursue a career within audio production because

sound is my biggest passion, having graduated with a degree in audio and Music Production in 2015.  

I wasn’t filled with much hope and I couldn’t get “my foot in the door” anywhere. It was such a difficult time as I’d taken a number of different admin jobs to earn money to try to get my life moving forward but the thought of doing something that I wasn’t passionate about in the slightest until retirement filled me with dread. There was a constant battle between trying to pursue my dream career and facing the actual situation I was in. A lot of people around me were getting on with their lives and building whilst I felt stuck on square one.

Was there a particular turning point for you during this time?

Yes, when I found out about the MYP training-scheme through a friend I met at University who shared a video on Facebook about the season she’d worked on. I then googled MAMA Youth Project and began my application!

How would you describe your time on the MYP training scheme?

The best and most challenging part of the training was the responsibility that was given to us.  On the shoots I attended it was down to me to capture the audio with no safety net.  It was sink or swim and we often had high profile contributors who were only available for a limited time, so it was particularly important to get everything right first time.Experiencing the industry in this way, being so hands on with the equipment and capturing the sound for a programme that was going to air on Sky One was a world away from anything I’d done before.From attending the production meetings to maintaining the audio equipment and recording with it, I felt I’d been launched into the industry in such a short amount of time.

How long did it take you to get your first job in television following the training?

Ten weeks later I started working as a trainee within the sound team on Silent Witness, an opportunity I would never have got without my MYP training which had given me a strong foundation in all aspects of television etiquette.  My time on Silent Witness then helped familiarise me with the workings of a major drama series as well as being on a location/set where there’s a massive team of people collaborating to create the content.

What advice would you give to young people who might be in a similar position to where you were?

Apply to MAMA Youth! Be as proactive as possible, search for opportunities to get involved within your particular area of interest and try to build your network as much as you can. In the case of sound there’s so many good learning resources online ranging from the physics of it all to creative application so there’s plenty to learn about which is great for your own understanding but also paramount when talking to people in the industry which will help your employment chances.  

What has been the impact of MAMA Youth on your personal journey?

It’s been life changing. I now have a job that I’m proud of and a potential career path that will continue to help me develop and grow professionally as well as have a positive effect on my personal life in regards to supporting myself. 

I’ve been able to experience many great professional work opportunities, expanding my knowledge within my chosen field as well as my network.

Navigating the industry is difficult at first and MAMA Youth’s continued support has been invaluable.  Knowing that they’re in my corner to assist as they have done regularly, makes such a difference.  

The people closest to me have seen the struggles and countless rejections and are so relieved that my career is finally beginning to move forward.  My parents are proud of all that I’ve achieved since my MYP training and I’m so thankful to them for the encouragement and support they have always provided.

How do you rate the importance of MAMA Youth a charity?

MAMA Youth’s reputation within the industry for providing fresh, passionate and hardworking talent is second to none.  I think it’s so important that the charity exists because it opens the door to a business that is extremely difficult to get into and not only does it open the door; it helps guide you on your path once through the door. MAMA Youth has changed so many lives and I’m thankful they will be part of mine for many years to come.