From education to employment

City College Plymouth media students quiz music academic

As part of Next Steps South West’s Higher Education Creative Week, students on various creative courses were invited to attend a number of talks given by cultural historian and music author Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. Jennifer spent most of Monday at City College Plymouth, where she was also interviewed by two students.

On Thursday 9 January she visited a museum with Iggy Pop; four days later, Dr Jennifer found herself centre stage at the College’s STEM Theatre, seated alongside City College students Jack Henderson and Ryan Medlin, who are both studying BA Film and Creative Media.

Born in Santa Cruz, California, Jennifer is well-known within the music industry and is credited with helping to shape the careers of Fatboy Slim, Enimem and Dr Dre among others. As an academic, she has published books that take an honest look at the rise of celebrity cultism and has investigated the interest that followed as a result of the early deaths of Kurt Cobain and Ian Curtis.

The welcoming and larger-than-life character was quizzed by the students for an hour, during which she offered them a real-life breakdown of the music industry and told them anything was possible if you work hard and know where you are headed.

“You don’t need to be in London,” she said in response to a question about whether it was possible to succeed in the music in this part of the country. “Yes, it might be harder, but it is possible. You need to shoot for your goals and if the opportunities aren’t coming to you, create your own ones.”

Jen’s latest project, Why Vinyl Matters, has seen her giving talks at universities across the country, and she is regularly featured on radio and television.

About the experience, Jack said: “Interviewing Jennifer was a great opportunity for myself and Ryan. Every word she speaks is enriched with a deep knowledge and passion for the industry, and her warm character makes it feel more like a chat between friends than an interview.

“It is great that Next Steps South West was able to arrange for a leading industry figure to come and see us here at City College Plymouth. All of us who have worked on bringing Creative Week to fruition have something extra to add to our CVs; I wonder how many other students have been given such an opportunity!”

Later on Monday, Jennifer gave a lecture looking at both the history and future of protest music.

Creative Week co-ordinator Mary Coles said: “We thank Jennifer for coming to see our students. It was clear to see from their faces the impact her talk had on our students, who I hope now have even more incentive to continue to explore the educational opportunities on offer within the creative industries.

“We hope to work with Jennifer again in the future.”

HE Lead for Creative, Digital and Science Industries Vicki Pinder said: “The creative sector is the country’s fastest-growing sector and is worth more than £100billion to the UK economy. These figures show just how big the industry is and contradicts an all-too-common misconception that a creative course won’t lead to a good career.”

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