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A Day in the Life of Petrana Zemanova


Name: Petrana Zemanovaphoto of Petrana with video camera interviewing

Studied: BA in Journalism and Communication - Class of 2019

Tell us a bit about your time at MDX – Did you do any extra-curricular activities?

I was involved in volunteering work within the Journalism department, Journalism society and POW! TV and Radio.  I have always tried to be active and get some experience out of my class. POW! Media was related to my studies so by taking part I could gain some extra practical experience.

What is your job role and who do you work for?

I am a self-employed videographer as well as freelancing for TV Current Affairs and some marketing/PR offices.

What was your favourite thing about being a student at MDX?

Middlesex University has such a positive attitude towards students. Teachers are therefore always willing to help students gain confidence in what they doing. I am grateful for the support of my teachers, friends and family, which has helped me to achieve my goals and to reach where I am now. Special thanks to professors Sophie Knowles, Kurt Barling and Maja Simunjak.

Your Day

What time do you normally wake up for work – what’s your morning routine and how different is your morning routine due to lockdowns/isolations?

I am a freelancer so my work schedule depends on the project I am currently working on. I need to be flexible and change my schedule quickly. Sometimes I have to wake up very early for morning filming and sometimes I film during the late evening. Of course, I maintain a good healthy routine, so I try to wake up around 8 am every day. Because I do freelance work for current affairs programmes, I still had some jobs to do during the pandemic. However, many people did not want to meet for an interview because of the Covid-19 lockdown, so I needed to find different creative ways to shoot interviews. I feel that this pandemic has changed not only the way we live but also the way we work.

We’re becoming experts at being in lockdown. How did you change your approach in 2021, compared to last year?

When it is a sunny day I always go out into the garden to recharge myself. This puts me in a good mood and raises my levels of vitamin D. I try to keep myself mentally and physically healthy, so I go for daily walks in the park or forest. If I have time, I also exercise at home. I have also changed the way I travel; I do not use public transport very much but walk instead.

How do you motivate yourself to be still productive even during the lockdown?

In my case, watching and reading different outlets every day has daily motivated me to look for stories and approach editors. I am an active person; I cannot just sit and do nothing. I have tried to set some goals or arrange an online video meeting with other people. This keeps me busy. Therefore, I have had been more active with my family. I had more time to help my father and mother and to apply for other interesting job opportunities.

How and where do you set up or prepare your working-from-home space? Do you have any tactics or tricks to make the space more effective for work?

Simply, the desk in my bedroom has become my work desk. To keep myself motivated, I have a bulletin board next to my desk on which I have stuck several pictures from my previous work placements and achievements.

How different is it being back to work and how much did your working environment change?

My work has always required a lot of travelling. I was worried about travelling by underground or bus at the beginning of the pandemic, so I have learned to walk more often or use cabs. I have found this much safer. When interviewing people, I have ensured that we are socially distanced 2m apart. After the interview, I have always cleaned all of my equipment. Many interviews have been carried out via Zoom, which is a shame. Also, I was exposed to a lot of sad stories about the Coronavirus, which made me feel down. Many interesting events moved to online spaces, making it harder for us visual creators. I have needed to be more creative and find different alternatives, with regard to which shots or images to use and how to film an event.

Do you have any advice for others who are working from home / or for adapting to a change of work environment?

Just keep to your usual routine. Wake up early, eat regularly and do some exercise.

What would you recommend our MDX community do, to help them de-stress or relax?

A nice cup of team, chocolate and positive and encouraging music all help me relax. I often read the Bible verses, which helps me to reduce my stressphoto of Petrana behind a camera filming and anxieties.

What time did you go to bed and how has this changed with the current situation? Did you find yourself going to bed earlier or later?

I have found that I now go to bed a bit later than before, as there is less need to be up so early. Generally, what’s the best and the most challenging thing about your job? The most challenging thing about my job is getting people for face-to-face interviews. I enjoy the rest of the production without pressure. Live streaming for the evening news can be sometimes challenging too. The things I enjoy the most are to film events and interviews as well as edit news packages.

What is your favourite thing to do after work, do you read books, try a new craft, or do you like to cook or bake? Do you do any exercise, go for a walk, or watch your favourite shows?

There is not too much time left after work, but I like to cook something delicious. My favourite recipes are chicken and vegetable soup with noodles, grilled chicken with potatoes, mushrooms and carrots, and toast with prosciutto and dry tomatoes. When I am at home I like to bake with my mom. We often go out into the garden and tend to the vegetables and fruits. Reading and walking are also part of my daily life.

How do you stay connected with your colleagues, friends or family? Do you call them, plan virtual hang-outs or play games online?

When I can, I prefer to meet my friends face to face in the park. If this is not possible I plan virtual hang-outs.

What exciting projects did you get up to since the beginning of the pandemic?

Perhaps, the most exciting project I undertook during the pandemic was filming a short factual documentary about unforgettable journeys during repatriation from the UK to Slovakia. It is about my personal story, as well as that of others, all of us trying to get home during an unprecedented time of upheaval, this global coronavirus pandemic. The Slovak government announced that they were closing the Slovak borders. Suddenly, I felt stuck in the UK without any hope of seeing my family, worrying about them and their health. Like many others, I undertook a risky journey from London, repatriated to compulsory state quarantine, in Slovakia. I filmed my journey from London to Slovakia, and this interesting short documentary can be viewed on my YouTube channel.

petrana at bbc radio londonAnd finally, what one piece of advice would you give to a current student who is soon-to-be-graduating from Middlesex?

My one piece of advice is: be proactive!
Get out there and get some experience connected to your studies. Network on LinkedIn and drop a CV and message to potential employers. Follow the latest news within your area of expertise. Most importantly, try to get your work seen. Drop a message to an experienced professional from your industry and ask them to give you feedback about your work. Apply for different work experiences, mentoring programmes, awards and competitions.

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