Media studies is often dismissed as a non-serious subject, yet its graduates are in demand by many industries
AMickey Mouse degree, or a means to understanding the cultural significance of Mickey Mouse? Media studies graduates often find themselves embroiled in discussions like this, usually as part of a vigorous defence of their chosen degree.
Having only really taken off in the 1970s, media studies is still in its infancy and is often dismissed (ironically, in the media) as a soft option, but try telling that to anyone who has grappled with semiotic or deconstructionist theory as part of their degree.
That said, course content can vary dramatically – some theoretical and others more vocational – so career options can depend on exactly what you studied. While it seems traditional print media may be in decline, journalistic and/or production skills in areas such as radio and video are highly valued by media organisations looking for new ways to reach internet audiences. People with bright ideas about how to get messages across to target audiences using new and social media should have no shortage of suitors.
What skills have I gained?
It goes without saying that as a media studies graduate, you will be expected to have an informed, critical understanding of the media and mass communication.
A portfolio and some work experience are both essential to opening doors in the media, and while there may not be too many vacancies around right now, using work experience to impress people close-up can be invaluable. A more vocational course should have given you hands-on experience and training using digital audio/video recording and editing equipment, so you should have a grasp of skills such as filming an interview, recording dialogue, or putting together a written feature.
You’ll also be aware of how to use new and social media to your own advantage, be it through blogging activity or by building up a following on Twitter.
What careers can I pursue?
Media studies graduates have a variety of options, says Margaret Holbrough, careers adviser at Graduate Prospects. “Public relations roles are ideally suited to graduates with insight into effective ways to communicate with different audiences,” Holbrough says. “For the more technically savvy, jobs requiring widespread use of multimedia as a means of informing and influencing people would be of interest.”
The advertising and marketing industries both value media studies graduates too, recruiting them into media planning and advertising account management, copywriting and market research. Alternatively, other suitable careers can be found within broadcasting itself, producing or presenting perhaps, as media graduate Andy Akinwolere does on Blue Peter, as well as magazine, newspaper and broadcast journalism.
Many aspiring journalists take a National Council for the Training of Journalists-accredited course to hone their skills and get a grounding in media law, public administration, writing, filming and shorthand. Postgraduate teaching courses are also popular.