Talent Scout

April 7, 2018

I had an interesting conversation with a university student this week and I discovered that even though I graduated eight years ago, some things have not changed.

For starters, there is a conflict of interest between students and tutors.

Students want to create their best work right now. They want to have access to the best resources and ensure that the final result is amazing. I wanted that when I was eighteen and I want that now.

Tutors don’t necessarily want that. They want you to make mistakes and learn from them. University is a safe playground to try things and discover how to do them correctly. As students you are expected to fail, review and then adapt.

Does any of that sound familiar? I remember getting frustrated in my first semester with students that didn’t pull their weight. I thought the tutors were ignoring the fact and didn’t care that my projects were being “sabotaged” by lazy students. Rather than writing about the learning experience in my coursework it was tempting to go on a ranting crusade about the individuals that hadn’t contributed the way I had wanted. Luckily, I realised before it was too late that I needed to focus on the learning experience and not how many ways I could insult a fellow student.

Those types of experiences can create mistrust and can often be the reason why students are wary about sharing roles with other students. We all want to see some kind of evidence before accepting somebody new into the team. Employers will conduct interviews but student projects do not often get that opportunity.

At this moment, thousands of students are working on their final year projects. It’s a big deal for them and I imagine that some of them are doing most of the work themselves or taking control of key roles to ensure they get the result they want. Unfortunately, some of the student teams will already be arguing and showing signs of disunity. That might be because someone didn’t do a good job with the sound recording, a team member forgot to press record on the camera or someone just didn’t bother to show up on time. It sucks but don’t let it put you off working with others.

Be your own talent scout. Find people that are a joy to work alongside. There are students that get a name early on for being good at something, such as editing, cinematography, writing etc. These students promote confidence, ability and experience. People pay attention to that.

I recommend that you connect with these people and collaborate. If they have a good reputation, it probably means they are passionate and motivated about creating good content. Just remember, nobody is going to be good at everything. Even the super talented ones have weak areas and you may have a skill to complement that gap. In order to do that you need to think about what you can offer and how you sell it. Take a moment to consider what others stand to gain by working with you on your project. What value can you offer?  

Did you know that 96% of businesses in this country employ less than 10 people?

On a number of occasions I have presented a scenario to students. I offer a budget of £1000 to produce a two minute promotional video (with all the standard trimmings) and I ask the students if they would prefer to produce it on their own, with a friend or with nine other individuals of their choice. At least two thirds always say they will do it themselves. About a third select the option to work with another person and almost nobody ever picks the third option.

Why do you think this is?

Is it the belief that they can do all the work without help? Is it greed? Do they prefer to work alone or with only the people they truly trust? Do larger teams risk the quality?

I mean no disrespect to those that take the first approach but look at the most successful people in the world. There is a reason why everybody knows their name but have any of them managed to sustain their success alone? How many other talented people have enabled their success and how were those relationships formed?

It might sound obvious and we have all heard the phrase “many hands make light work” but I know from experience and talking to others that working in large teams can be difficult. However, I also know from experience that being part of an amazing team of talented individuals is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have.

Find talent. Be part of a team.

I hope you found this blog interesting.