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How I Became A Senior Lecturer

23rd April 2024

The Post: Chair of the Royal Television Society Northern Ireland (RTS NI) Student Awards and Senior Lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College (Belfast Met)

The Post Holder: Aidan Browne

No two days are ever the same for lecturer and broadcaster Aidan Browne

Give a brief outline of your career to date.

After graduating I was unemployed and started a business going around schools running drama classes. That led to covering four classes at Youth Lyric in September 1986 for Arthur Webb who was working on a TV programme for the BBC and I have been there ever since! I became a part time lecturer in Rupert Stanley College in 1987 and then taught at BIFHE and I’m currently a Senior Lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College (Belfast Met). I’m also Chair of the RTS NI Student Awards which are now in their 11th year and a part-time news presenter at UTV.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Drama, English and History were delivered by brilliant enthusiastic teachers.

Did you go on to further/higher education, if so what did you study and where?

I graduated from the University of Lancaster with a degree in drama on a sunny day in July 1986. Princess Alexandra handed me the scroll and asked me what I was going to do in the future! I later studied for a Masters in Modern Literature while teaching.

How did you get into your area of work?

I love creativity in all its forms, so I’ve been very lucky to enjoy what I guess is now called a portfolio career.

Through my role at Belfast Met as a Senior Lecturer, I have the privilege of working with our next generation of storytellers and through my voluntary role as Chair of the RTS NI Student Awards, I get to showcase the best of creative talent from our third level students across Northern Ireland. I’m also the Artistic Director of Youth Lyric and a part-time presenter at UTV since 1993.

The onscreen opportunity came about when a friend and colleague of mine Dr Gabrielle Maguire back in Whiterock FE Centre suggested I should try getting into TV. I replied to an advert on UTV, went for a screen test and was lucky enough to be asked to join the best team in the business.

Is this what you always wanted to do?

I’ve always loved drama and I grew up watching news on TV. I thought Sean Rafferty at BBC NI was the most polished presenter I had ever seen. Oddly enough, when I did my screen test at UTV (31 years ago!) I tried to read the news in same style as Sean, with attention to clarity and diction. My wife Joanne and I met Sean in Donegal airport a few years ago and when I told him that story he replied “And they still employed you?!” I’ve so many interests I consider myself very lucky to enjoy such a varied career.

Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?

Besides drama, modern literature and teaching qualifications I also did a journalism qualification at Belfast Metropolitan College when I started news presenting part-time at UTV. What I loved was the fact that the lecturers were still working in industry, ensuring that students had relevant skills before entering the world of work. I think it’s hugely important to enjoy lifelong learning.

Are there alternative routes into the job?

There is no set route into any of my jobs, but I think the networking opportunities presented through membership of the RTS NI are brilliant. At the forthcoming Student Awards I will bring students from Belfast Met face to face with employers who can give invaluable insights and advice.

What are the main personal skills your roles require?

An ability to work within a team, stay calm and treat people in the way you would like to be treated.

What does a typical day entail?

There is no such thing as a typical day or even week as I get to be involved in so many wonderful organisations. My main job at Belfast Met keeps me busy during the day and at the evenings and weekends I will be watching and listening to news during the day and following stories on the UTV website.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

At Belfast Met I have the opportunity to work on Assured Skills Academies with graduates hoping to gain employment with companies which are growing in Northern Ireland. This is a very rewarding and enjoyable part of my work. At Youth Lyric we have 20 staff and 300 pupils attending classes every week which keeps the team busy!

Why is what you do important?

I love working with young people helping them with their careers, whether that is young actors at the Lyric or future creatives studying at Belfast Met.

What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

My friend John Cunningham has a brilliant poster in his office which reads “Work hard and be nice to people.”

If you weren’t doing this what would you like to do?

I also work as a conference host and MC and love working with an audience at events. I may do more of this in the future!

What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

The second greatest man who ever walked this earth, William Shakespeare, once advised “To thine own self be true.”

Describe your ideal day off.

Listening to George Hamilton on RTE Lyric FM’s The Hamilton Scores with a large cup of coffee, followed by a walk on Shaws Bridge in Belfast with our lovely cockapoo Rosa. An ideal day involves a craft ale in the sunshine on the terrace at Dunmurry Golf Club and a family meal in the club restaurant. Perfetto!

And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?

Do extensive research, know your ‘customer’ and bring your personality across.

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