Opinion

The problem for media agencies looking to recruit graduates? They don’t know you exist

Jacob Hkeik

Media offers some of the most interesting career opportunities to graduates, but most of them don’t know they exist, argues MGrad graduate Jacob Hkeik.

Last year I barely knew how media agencies worked. While they can be big and complex beasts I am not sure the industry is doing enough to explain themselves to potential graduate recruits. And that’s before you add in the intricacies of each specialisation.

This has been my observation since I attended Mumbrella360 in June, which opened my eyes to the breadth of personalities and skills that exist within the marketing, advertising and media industry.

I knew that marketing or advertising was a field I wanted to get into, and an internship at BMF Advertising earlier this year helped cement that ambition. Having that experience, and many thanks to the BMF team, enabled me to start honing my skills through work experience.

Going further, I began looking at the plethora of media and advertising industry specific programs to get even more skilled.

While I still had two years of my degree to go, postgraduate options are still out of reach at this stage, especially whilst I was working part time as the marketing manager for both a cosmedical clinic and a TEDx event. However despite my attempts to better understand the marketing industry, I was still unsure where, or how, media agencies fitted in.

It was at Mumbrella360, and specifically the MGrad day, that my understanding of media agencies began. It was my first industry conference and the flair of presenters, exhibitors and attendees sparked my excitement about a career in this field.

The MGrad day was held by WPP’s GroupM agencies where speakers from the group explained what media agencies do and examples of their work. It was here I had a chance encounter with Greg Graham (or “Sparrow” as most people know him), the new business and marketing officer for GroupM, who – with an offhand quip – quickly compelled me to get involved. The brief for applications asked for passionate and creative responses, so I sought to capture their attention. Thankfully, it worked.

MGrad students visited Google

MGrad students visited Google

A couple of weeks later I began the MGrad program; an eight-week paid internship plus accompanying training course that introduces graduates to the world of media through the eyes of a media agency. There were 14 graduates in the program (who were working amongst the GroupM agencies) and we were fortunate enough to visit or be visited by Google, Southern Cross Austereo, Twitter, NewsCorp, Facebook and more. Each company took the time to educate us on their medium, how they interact with their consumers and how we as agencies work with them.

In addition to the training I received, I worked in the marketing and new business team in GroupM and was mentored by Sparrow – which was a priceless experience in itself.

I may never know which part of the program I learnt more from: the training or the work experience, as they both develop different parts of the necessary education to make a real contribution in this industry. It was incredibly beneficial to be training and working at the same time, and this is an experience that too few graduates will have. This is a flaw that universities and the industry must work together to address, as each experience enhanced the other.

The exclusive access media agencies have to the most important media outlets was a great eye opener as well, and the access to events and brands that come along with the job are incredible, so I began to wonder – how did I miss such a sexy industry when considering my career options after high school? Also, how many others graduates have, or would, miss it too?

The reality is every person is affected by media. Everyone sees the magazine ads, the billboard, the flashing images in the palm of their hands – it seems almost unreal that most people, let alone graduates, do not know or recognise the breadth of skills required to make and bring campaigns to the target audience.

The way I see it, media is a powerful industry with ever growing scope and social responsibilities and given the creative dynamism and influence of the people in it, it should be able to select from the cream of Australia’s educational crop.

For students, compared to the prominent top-of-the-tree industries for premium talent – such as finance and law – I quickly realised that media is the best industry for graduate talent to be in. As the media landscape constantly changes, you must move twice as fast to stay ahead.

Staying ahead means understanding the changing ways people use and consume media, interacting with the rapid technological, and social platform evolutions.

However I don’t feel the industry does enough in staying ahead in attracting graduate talent – I hadn’t considered the media industry as a viable career option until I was introduced to it at Mumbrella360 and GroupM.

Personally, the MGrad program was a great first step to increasing awareness and involvement of students given its acceptance of both graduate and penultimate year students, and one which other companies could take note of.

Allowing penultimate year students is a stark differentiator of the MGrad program when compared to other graduate offerings – it ensures talent is brought into the business earlier and have already begun training and work whilst finishing their final year of study. Being flexible with working arrangements during their graduate year is key, and one that I’m very grateful the GroupM agency, MEC, is providing to me next year.

I would like to see more of the students I study with at least consider having a career in the industry. There are so many passionate and intelligent grads who could have bright futures in media agencies. The problem is they don’t know you exist yet.

Jacob Hkeik is currently studying business administration and psychology at Macquarie University

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