An interview with Emmet Coffey, Lecturer at the Department of Media Communications MTU, Cork. Conducted by Niall O Leary, MTU

Can you comment on trends in students – being freelancers while enrolled?

A trend over the last 3 or 4 years is that students, especially by 4th year, may have a business running at the side while still in college. If I was to think of last year, 2 or 3 of the students had fully formed businesses where they were earning money. What might be contributing to this is that in recent years, our students have started to do placements in companies. This alters the student where they are then exposed to the fact that there are people/ companies out there that are after their skills. 10 – 15% of the students graduating from the course are choosing to formalise what they’ve done on an occasional, freelance basis in college and see this as a career path. The freelance work has kickstarted their careers whether it be working for themselves or for others and students are becoming more and more aware of the possibility of working for themselves as the years go on. The students are entrepreneurial as they can already see their skills are needed and wanted before they graduate.

What do you find most rewarding about teaching media students?

I’m really interested in the students and the type of skills they have. They are very creative students, I get great energy from them and seeing how they develop ideas that have potential. Maybe the most interesting thing is that you’ll see them during the course of the programme beginning to realise they have marketable skills and that they can do something with this to establish their own business. Seeing them become independent from what they have learned on the course is something that is going to translate into employment for them or maybe their own businesses.