Ask the Mentor: Is it time for a career change?

Media Mentors' Esther Coleman-Hawkins answers your career questions with brisk no-nonsense advice for screen industry professionals.

The Problem

Emily writes: ‘I love working in TV production, but… All my work has been cancelled and I’m currently struggling on JobSeeker because I couldn’t claim JobKeeper. It’s making me think about a move into Comms or Marketing, or something more stable.’

The Answer

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you reassess your life is there?

I love that you love your job – that’s always a good thing  – but let’s investigate what I think is your actual dilemma.

Stage 1: You wonder whether you should have a more stable job.

Stage 2:  You wonder whether that could be in Comms or Marketing.

Think back to those heady days of 2019 when mass cancellations of work were unimaginable. Were you happy? Or has this experience brought to the fore something that had been niggling at you?

How long have you been in TV? Are you cool with the freelance nature of it – pandemic aside?

The reality of TV is short-term contracts, hustling for work and doing really interesting jobs with fantastic people (mostly!). Under normal circumstances, is this good enough for you?

Read More: Ask the Mentor: How do I stay motivated after rejection? 

If it is, if you were happy, maybe just stick it out. We’ll be back in production in a few months, this will be just a blip and you’ll still be in a job and industry you love.

I chatted to someone at the Woolworths checkout over the weekend – socially distanced, of course.  She told me she normally works for Qantas but has got these shifts to see her through. Could you consider something like that?  She also told me she’s having a ball!

But, if this is actually a bigger problem this could be the perfect time to make some big life changes. If you want a full-time job that’s great – they are out there. Start applying but remember you will probably have to apply for many to land one.  Maybe get some professional help from a CV writer or Career Counsellor to help you transition into a more corporate world.

My real question is why are you thinking about Comms or Marketing? Because you see lots of job adverts for them? Or because you think you’d enjoy it? Do you actually know what they involve?

If you don’t actually know what the sectors involve, try dipping your toe in the water and use this downtime to call people who work in these roles and ask them about their jobs. Think of it like interviewing someone for a show. I’m all in favour of a career change, but I think it needs to be driven by enthusiasm, maybe even passion, but definitely not fear!

Got a question for the mentor? Send it to us at with the subject line ‘Media Mentor Question’ and we’ll pass it onto Esther.

Media Mentors are currently partnering with ACMI to produce the twice-weekly Running Free online skills workshops for screen industry professionals and enthusiasts, delivered free. The next event goes live on Friday 22nd May at 10am AEST. It features advertising writer and creative director Alex Wadelton sharing tips on how to ‘get stuff done’ and execute your ideas.

 See the full session on ACMI’s YouTube channel here.


Esther Coleman-Hawkins
About the Author
Co-founder of Media Mentors, Esther Coleman-Hawkins is an experienced TV producer, conference organiser and career mentor. Media Mentors provides one-on-one mentoring and runs workshops and networking events for people in the creative industry. Sessions with her, or her co-founder Denise Eriksen, can be booked through their website