The media industry is small – but we do need to attract talent from other disciplines

Linda WongRecently undergraduate Jacob Hkeik penned an opinion piece about a lack of awareness of media agency careers amongst students looking for careers. Here Linda Wong from the Media Federation Australia responds. 

Two weeks ago we read an article by MGrad graduate Jacob Hkeik, saying media offers some of the most interesting career opportunities to graduates, but most of them don’t know media agencies exist.

The fact is, the MFA and our members put a lot of work in to educating lecturers and students about the opportunities in our industry and our most recent survey shows that in actual fact, more than 60 per cent of new recruits to the industry came from MFA-accredited universities.

Sure, this new talent may have predominantly come from communications faculties, but the fact is, these are the lecturers and students that are most engaged by the opportunities media has to offer. As the data and programmatic trading space continues to build, it’s important to get a foot in the door in the Finance, Pure Mathematics and Business faculties, but much like this is an education process for our industry, on the changing nature of roles and opportunities that exist – so too is our challenge at the university level.

While the Advertising Media Agency Industry feels huge in size and scope when you are working in the heart of it, in actual fact it’s fairly small. According to the MFA’s Annual Census Survey, we’re talking approximately 3,000 people. There are 813,689 domestic students attending universities in Australia, and we only have openings in our industry for 245 graduates each year.

With that in mind, over the last five years our strategy has been to get ‘on the ground’ involvement with the Communications and Marketing faculties and making sure their courses are relevant and cover what we do in the industry. We also engage them through our annual “Lecture the Lecturer” sessions, where course leaders at all the key unis are updated by industry leaders on trends, changes, grad programs and new opportunities. Plus we have over 200 students visit us annually for student visits, and we do at least 2-3 Guest Lectures at each of the universities. 60 Experts from our industry have contributed to creating awareness of our industry with the universities this year alone.

Over the past four years our MFA intern program has placed 140 interns with member agencies, resulting in 90-95 per cent of interns being offered full time employment at the end of their placement. Plus, our member agencies run their own scholarship programs with students, such as MGrad with Group M, TMS, OMD, PHD and UM.

Is there more to be done to educate students about what we do, and the many benefits of joining our industry? Without a doubt. We would love to connect with the other 800,000 students, particularly those with data, business, finance, psychology and education backgrounds. As they are difficult to reach en-masse, we are working towards more targeted programs.

For now, we’re pleased with the progress we are making.

Linda Wong is MFA director, people


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