GRADUATE SUCCESS STORIES FROM JAMES ACCREDITED COURSES
LUKE PICKERING
Luke studied at the University of Lincoln and now works at The Church Studios and has recently won the Rising Star accolade at the 2017 Pro Sound Awards.

What course did you study at Lincoln and what were the factors that made you choose that one in particular?
I had looked at a few options, but for me, the (BA) Audio Production course at Lincoln offered something more than a purely technical perspective on the subject. It covers a really broad spectrum initially before allowing you to specialise in a chosen area. I had actually been studying art beforehand, so it felt like a good decision for me to build my skills up across the board. Regarding the University itself, I was more familiar with it than others, having lived here all my life, and I knew I liked the campus.

Prior to university, did you have any experience in audio/music?
I got into music deeply when I was about 14, and subsequently spent my late teens playing in bands and doing endless amounts of recordings in bedrooms, trying to make things sound half decent with what I had (initially using a laptop, webcam mic, and Audacity) with mostly embarrassing results.

When you started the course, did you have a firm idea of what sector of the audio industry you wanted to work in? And did that change as the course progressed and as new possibilities were presented?
I always knew I wanted to go down the music route. As the course develops, you're equipped with tools from all areas, and you learn how to use them to help advance within your own speciality. To use one example, the Pro Tools sessions that were built whilst making sound for visual media were often the most complex, so at the time, that really helped me up my game in terms of editing and manipulating audio.

Before graduation (and employment!), I'm sure you were aware that there could be a distinct possibility of working as a freelancer. How did you prepare for this?
I was just trying to record as many artists as I could with whatever means I had, trying to build up some sort of reputation before leaving the shelter of education! So as I graduated, my focus was on carrying this momentum into post-graduate life, to try and make a small living. Being offered employment in a recording studio however, of any sort, was never something I was going to turn down.

Throughout your course did you become involved in any external audio/music activities that weren't initiated by the university?
The University always encouraged the use of facilities for students to put their skills into practice by pursuing personal projects. To this day I'm very grateful for that. I spent a lot of time in the studio whenever the holidays came along, and my skills improved as a result.
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Apart from generally being a smart guy (obviously!), what reason(s) do you think helped you become employed by The Church?
Ha, I'm not sure about that! I was doing a work experience placement with Miloco and ended up at the Church. They had been looking to get someone new on board so you could say I was in the right place and at the right time. I noticed the amount of hours the engineers and assistants were putting in, so I stayed late and did whatever I could to help.

Attitude, in life is important. Any tips on how to survive a three year degree course and into the subsequent years?
If you're polite, respectful and work really hard, then that's always a good start! Be respectful of your forebears and peers, and try to let your dedication and hard work do the talking - something I wasn't always good at!

Any general advice that you would offer to a prospective student or one that has just begun a degree?
Learn how to work well as part of a team, and try to embrace those situations where you're out of your comfort zone. Also, enjoy it - really go for it... It's easy to say in retrospect, but its likely you won't experience again the same combination of resources and time to spend just doing what you love - just to try things, and fail, and try again...

Any advice or tips you could offer those currently looking for employment?
I can only speak from my own experience, and you might even decide you don't want a 'career' as such! But as far as audio jobs go, keep pushing, keep putting yourself in as many situations where an opportunity might come along. It took me 4 years till that happened for me, with a bit of luck.