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Arit Eminue

Arit EminueFounder/Director, DiVA

BA Writing, 1997

Arit Eminue graduated from Middlesex University in 1999 with a BA in Writing and went on to study an MA in Film Producing at the National Film and Television School. She is the founder and director of DiVA; an independent training provider delivering creative apprenticeships, internships and bespoke training supporting creative talent.

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I chose Middlesex more because of the course than the university. I was an avid reader and budding novelist looking for an opportunity to hone my craft. The course I chose offered me the opportunity to write, read and analyse different texts, all of which was very interesting to me at the time.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

The variety of different writing formats we got to explore over the three years was the big attraction for me. For example, I studied journalism, poetry, short stories, novels, biographies, script writing as well as a mixture of genres. I was introduced to the conventions of storytelling as well as semiotics, which explores how meaning is created.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed the writing side and the fact that the course gave me the space I needed to explore my own ideas and voice as a writer.

What were the facilities like at your institution?

I was at the Tottenham campus and I graduated in 1999. In terms of a learning environment, it was conducive to my needs.

In my first year of University I was expecting my daughter so I perhaps had different priorities to most students. The University were brilliant in the way they supported me. Student Support fell over themselves to make sure I was ok and I got help financially from Student Welfare. Lecturers also did a lot to make sure I had the support I needed while studying. I used to take her into the lectures in her car seat and they were fine about it. It probably helped that she was very quiet though!

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

I really enjoyed having the chance to discuss and deconstruct the different stories and prose that we were reading. I loved getting to hear other people's ideas and being able to develop my own opinions. Let's not of course forget the nights out, cheap drinks, tax free salary and new friendships!

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Enjoy it and use your time wisely because it goes really quickly!

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you get to where you are professionally today?

It laid the foundation. When I left Middlesex I went on to work in TV and film. My course gave me a good grounding and context to what I was learning on the job

What inspired you to set up your own business and what are the pros and cons of being your own boss?

I had the benefit of an excellent introduction to the creative sector and wanted to offer that chance to other people. I had always wanted to work for myself and do find the challenge that comes with building a business from scratch incredibly invigorating albeit stressful at times!

At DiVA all our time is spent helping people and businesses realise their full potential and vision. Our focus is creative apprenticeships and graduate internships in large businesses like 20th Century Fox, Crossrail and Live Nation as well as start ups. So long as the role is creative we're on it! We also provide career coaching and mentoring at entry and executive level.

I like the sense of freedom that comes with being the architect of your own career. You're working on your own terms. You've got to be passionate about what you're doing, be a good people person, have a lot of emotional intelligence, remain teachable and be humble enough to fess up and apologise when you get it wrong.

The cons are you're hustling every day. You are responsible for finding the business that builds the company and pays your employees. That can give you sleepless nights. It can also be lonely at the top. Your employees or clients don't really care how your day went so you need to be your own cheerleader and develop a thick skin. You can also wear many different hats, especially when you're starting out; one minute you're the accountant, the next the office runner, the next a sales person, a lawyer, HR Manager. It can feel overwhelming. If you don't learn to add balance and ask for help you can be switched on 24/7 365 which leads to burnout.

How did you get your first foot on the career ladder?

Before I went to University I was a secretary for three years, so after I graduated I joined a temp agency specialising in creative roles. Through the agency I worked at the BBC as PA to a producer and in the script department on a cheesy Channel 5 soap called Family Affairs. I was a huge fan and well chuffed to get the gig. I loved it. The secretarial experience I had, combined with my degree really helped me get into the sector. Since then I've produced film projects and written short stories. I also worked at the UK Film Council developing new talent, as well as with Creative Skillset in the design and delivery of training initiatives.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

My career highlight came earlier this year when I was invited to a reception given at Windsor Castle by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh held in honour of those working in the film and TV sectors. It was great to be in the company of the likes of Julian Fellows, Helena Bonham Carter, George Lucas, Jonathan Ross, Barbara Broccoli and so many others I admire.

What are the top three tips you would give to current students and recent graduates who are looking for a similar career to yourself?

1) Get as much relevant work experience while you are studying. Your degree is good but on its own is not enough. If writing is your thing get, yourself published, whether that be via an online blog, student magazine or other outlet. If you fancy yourself as a director, start creating content. You have access to free equipment and a crew in the form of your peers! Marketing your thing? Offer to create a campaign for a local business or event, your university, charity, a friend. Passion manifests itself through action. Be proactive. Employers in the creative sector are more interested in what you can do than what you studied.

2) Have a vision of what you want to achieve career wise and break it down into realistic goals. Stick it where you will see it everyday. If you don't plan you plan to fail. When things get tough your vision is what will keep you going and keep you focussed.

3) Be nice and courteous. Go the extra mile. The creative sector is tiny and jobs are offered largely by word of mouth. Good manners, flexibility and smart working go a long way.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

The cabbage soup diet will not work for you. You'll gain 5lbs, fart a lot and be miserable.

For more information about Arit's company, visit the DiVA website.

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