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Gemma Pobjoy

Gemma Pobjoy, BA Theatre Art, PGCE Drama

Drama Teacher, Cavendish School, Hemel Hempstead

BA Theatre Arts, PGCE Drama, 2012

What made you choose Middlesex University?

From sixth form I knew that I wanted a career as a drama teacher. I liked the campus at Middlesex but all of my drama teachers went to Middlesex and they told me a lot about the course and the kind of support that I would receive from the University so hearing of their experiences helped me make my mind up.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

The BA course allowed you to be very independent and create our own productions which was attractive to me but the recommendations of my teachers who said they had had a good experience also helped. The organisation of the course and the amount of people on it were factors as well as the general layout of the course in terms of the balance between practical and academic work.

After that I had to train to be a teacher and I had enjoyed my degree so staying at Middlesex made sense. I enjoyed my BA but the PGCE was one of the best years of my life and it really made me pleased that I stayed at Middlesex.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

What I enjoyed the most was that we were able to build our own sets, create our own lighting and put on our productions so we had the experience of working in a real life production company. We were also given a budget £1,000 to spend on our shows too so we were effectively getting some of our tuition fees back.

What were the facilities like in your department?

The facilities were good. There was always a lighting board, a blank studio we could paint how we wanted and the technicians were always around to help us. The canteens stayed open late too so we could eat while working late.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

My fondest memory was probably when I got my feedback from my first year. As a first year you can only pass or fail but I got quite good marks for the directing side as well as my performance and it made me feel very proud of myself. It was as if Simon Cowell was telling me I was amazing on Britain's Got Talent.

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

I would advise students today to go to university with an open mind and lots of energy, especially if studying drama. Talk to as many people as possible and make friends with your lecturers. If you put everything into the University you will be rewarded for it.

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

I had to do a degree in drama and then do a teaching degree in drama to become a drama teacher so that is what I did and now I have the job that I trained for at Middlesex.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

I chose the industry because I was quite shy when I was younger and the only class that I liked at school was drama. It made me feel quite comfortable and I was interested in it from a young age and then at GCSE and A Level I seemed to do quite well, knew what I was talking about and understood it more than any other subject. I realised at GCSE that it maybe wasn't a good idea to go into the main industry because going to auditions made me feel a bit uneasy and people who can't act teach.

The Pros of teaching drama is that it is a very energetic subject and it is loved by nearly all pupils. The syllabus is easier to understand and the topics are a bit more flexible compared to other subjects too

The cons are marking, the playground duties and the attitude you receive from some students and other staff from time to time.

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

I had a gap year in between University and my PGCE year as I didn't want to go into teaching without experiencing it first and during this time I worked in a school for two terms as an Learning Support Officer.

During the PGCE the University organised two placements and gave us training on how to get a job. I then went out into the big wide world, had four interviews and got a job straight after finishing the PGCE so I had some time off over summer and then started my first job. My whole class got a job that year and we were all really happy.

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

Getting my first job was the defining career break for me. The defining highlight was when I got my first 'Outstanding' from the head teacher. While you are training you kind of feel that they let you off because you are still a trainee so it was nice to be told I was a talented teacher.

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

If you are completely committed to performing, get an agent or go on casting calls from your first year. If you want to perform you have to go to auditions so getting experience as early as possible is essential.
Get involved in the University and get jobs around the campus. They will pay you for doing jobs like helping at events and you can get lots of experience at the same time.
Remain organised, keep on top of your workload and don't leave your essays until the day before they are due.

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

I would tell myself to not be so grouchy and controlling, perform more, and just give it a shot.

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