Advice: Where to from here?

2012-08-31 14:40

Lerato Nkhahle asks:
I have recently completed a bachelor of arts in communication science and am desperate for employment.

I have tried to volunteer but I cannot even get mentorship.

Age is not on my side as I am 28.

I am passionate about media and communication as a whole – I need help.

Where do I start looking for a job?

What do I do?

Expert answer: Willemien Marais
Dear Lerato

I suggest a four-point action plan:

1. Basic job-hunting skills: Don’t send out a generic CV.

Use the marketing training you received as part of your communication science degree to market yourself – write a specific CV for a specific job application.

And be sure to pay attention to basics – i.e. if your CV is poorly written you won’t be employed in journalism, where the ability to write is a core skill.

2. Hone your craft: If you want to write (be it as a journalist, a copywriter, or a web-content creator) you have to practise your writing every day.

Create a blog and start writing. In this way you will get better at writing while at the same time have something to add to your CV that illustrates your skills.

3. No experience is ever wasted: Work as a waiter to support yourself while you volunteer without payment at your local community radio station.

(The listening and observation skills you hone as a waiter will definitely enhance your skills as a media practitioner!).

Don’t just look for jobs or internships in mainstream media; community media is where you cut your teeth, and where you get a foot in the door.

Volunteering at a community radio station or newspaper (or compiling your church newsletter) will provide you with varied and in-depth experience because lack of resources at these institutions often means that you won’t just observe – you’ll have to contribute!

4. Be an entrepreneur: Don’t just wait for something to happen.

Creating a simple website or blog for your community/church/youth club (an essential media skill in any case) will cost virtually nothing.

This will provide you with an opportunity to illustrate your skills as a media practitioner, and prove to a potential employer that you can show initiative, solve problems, and act independently, which are some of the skills and characteristics that you will need to succeed in the media industry.

You also need to be professional, diligent and a critical thinker, as well as creative, adaptable, and passionate.

Most media jobs require you to work long hours on challenging projects – your heart must be in it!

About Willemien Marais

Willemien Marais is a journalism lecturer at the department of communication science at the University of the Free State.

She also provides training for community media journalists, and works as a freelance journalist and media consultant.

PS: It is important to remember that you may also join trade associations for the sectors you want to work in for networking, further learning and other opportunities.

The industry body for the public relations sector, for example, is the Public Relations Institute of South Africa (Prisa) and offers a variety of continuing professional development programmes throughout the year.

Research the relevant trade associations and see what opportunities they offer in general and to their members in particular.

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