Jamie Paddock won the 2016 Unicorn Student Prize (a three-month paid internship with Unicorn Training) for his piece The Dying Mind . We caught up with him two months into his internship.
What made you decide to enter the New Media Writing Prize?
I was developing an online narrative as part of an assignment for university. Jim Pope, a senior lecturer at Bournemouth University, mentioned the prize in one of the seminars, and I couldn’t pass over the opportunity to gain recognition for my work and to get some priceless work experience.
What sparked The Dying Mind?
I lived through some of it basically. It was a harrowing experience when I first when to university at Cardiff to study history before leaving because of falling ill. I was diagnosed with Bipolar, Asperger’s and came out as gay to myself in the space of three months. Being able to come out stronger and study at Bournemouth meant I had a powerful story to tell. People speaking out about mental health issues and suicide were the main sparks, as I knew I could raise awareness of the ever-growing mental health crisis especially among young men.
How long did it take you to make it?
I had four months to make the piece but did it in about three. I had already developed a short story from the same experiences and adapted it. Though there were some major changes to it.
How did you make it?
I had the choice to use the university’s online software Gennarrator http://genarrator.org/ which was fairly easy to use. I sourced some of my favourite music that fitted the dark atmosphere I wanted to create. I was allowed to use non-original images and sound long as we acknowledged the sources. The emphasis was on the creativity and writing. I would have liked to have done the graphic design myself to keep a consistent style but wasn’t able to.
What was the most challenging aspect of the work?
Surprisingly adapting the piece and sourcing the images and music wasn’t the hardest part. Reliving the experiences meant that it was an emotionally draining exercise. Having to come up the suicide note at the latter stages of the piece was perhaps the hardest part to do as it was the first time I ever had to write one. That left me wanting a holiday. Some of my stresses in my private life were making it harder. But I pushed through and came out the other end.
What difference did winning the student prize make to you?
I really didn’t believe that I could win. So it made a huge difference to my confidence. I finally believed in myself and in my ability to write and contribute to the discussion on mental health.
How long have you been interning at Unicorn Training?
I’m two months into my three-month placement and have enjoyed it so far. It fitted perfectly between finishing my undergraduate degree and starting my postgraduate.
What work have you been doing there?
I’ve been working on some charity work through Learn Appeal http://learnappeal.com/ with a project in Kenya preparing, designing and writing eLearning courses. I’ve written courses on recycling and climate change which were a fun challenge to research and write. I’ve also written some blog posts.
What have you learned so far from your internship?
I’ve learnt and realised how invaluable my degree was and realised some of the transferable skills that served me well in writing and researching eLearning courses. The process is fairly similar which is great. I’ve also learnt that the industry is heading towards serious games and mobile learning which is exciting to be a part of. Attending the group meetings were really insightful as Virtual Reality is being looked at as an innovative learning tool.
I’ll be starting an MA in International Political Communication at Bournemouth University, immediately after the internship. It’s going to be a challenge but one I’m really excited to be a part of. It will be really interesting to see how I can bring some of the creative skills that I learnt from my undergraduate and internship into politics. I hope to use my experience in mental health issues in the future as well.
What would you say to students who are thinking of entering the prize?
It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain some great work experience, and I would highly recommend it. Unicorn is a great place to work with a really friendly atmosphere. I almost didn’t apply, but it has turned my life around. There’s no loss in applying and you never know – you could win. Anything is possible.
Read The Dying Mind