As an agency, we do our best to support the media superstars of the future. So many shining stars of the D19 team are well under 25 and we might not be a huge team but we always commit to placing at least one work experience student a year with us. We’ve all really enjoyed giving a range of students workplace experience whilst they are studying or refining their craft.
Why then were we so nervous at being asked to sell the benefits of working in media at a recent careers fair? Here’s why.
A straw poll of the office uncovered that over half of our parents haven’t a clue what we do, let alone our friends. And who on earth wants to work in a sector where the majority of agencies are widely known for working you hard, paying you badly and throwing you in head first to watch you drown? Being plied with booze and surrounded by great company is really only a modest saving grace. With sketchy memories of how useful careers advice actually was at our schools, we were curious to see what else might be on offer so agreed to play a part. Unsurprisingly, the majority of occupations in the room were very vocational; the doctor, the policeman, the midwife – the kind of occupations that careers officers like because they’re easy to understand and it’s clear what will be expected of students on their path to achieving them.
Media is a little more complex. A little more varied. Most people we know didn’t set out to work in media, they simply fell into it through a range of sectors and avenues. As we sat there trying to explain the breadth of the media industry (and within that what role a media agency plays), we soon realised that the questions coming back, time and time again, were still the same.
“What qualifications do I need?”
“Do you get paid well?”
“Do you get to travel?”
“Do you actually enjoy it?”
“Do you have to wear a suit?”
“Do they mind if you have a tattoo?”
And then it dawned on us. These lots were ‘millennials’. Of course. All of this was of high importance to this fun-loving lot. Money, creative freedom and a great experience along the way.
Only one of the 20 plus students that graced our desk asked “Where does it lead?” or “What’s the most successful that you can be?” Yet answering these we realised how broad the career progression in media could be. Yes, you could work your way up for years to head up a major agency network, or you could set up your own (like our founders did here at December 19), but set your sights even further and soon the chutzpah and personality required to work in media could easily springboard you into what might have originally seemed incomprehensible. Surely this would suit this new generation of success-hunters down to the ground? After all, Christian O Connell went ‘inside the radio’ having worked in media sales for years and Hugh Dennis would have made the marketing department at Unilever giggle for 6 years, while he was a ‘jobbing’ comedian. Even Claudine Collins manages to balance being the MD of Mediacom whilst carving out a career in TV playing a ‘ball-breaking’ advisor to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice.
By the end of the session, we were enthusing that media was made for them! What other industry employs such a huge array of individuals, celebrates their will to be themselves and provides a platform to be not only creative but super-sociable every day? Once honed, these skills can be readily exported around the world providing an opportunity for travel abound or even put towards supporting the success of their own personal projects and ventures. All they had to do was knuckle down at school and think big.
We left realising that we had massively underestimated the value of this event. We started out fearing media might be the poor relation in the room yet left feeling immensely proud of the industry that we occupy. And so to work! With a spring in our step and a refreshed picture of tomorrow’s media grads, our role as a careers advisor is complete.