As a teacher who specializes in teaching media and communication studies, I have realized that the discipline is very competitive. The competition manifests in the number of graduates produced in the monotechnics, polytechnics and universities offering this course. Graduates who offered the course also get competition from graduates of other disciplines who are keenly interested and bountifully talented as broadcasters, writers and content provision generally. It is a talent driven discipline. People who are ordinarily gifted with the skills of presentation and writing would want to have a stake in the media and communication industry.
The power of learning from the internet is equally an issue. Young people now warehouse skills using YouTube and other websites offering free courses in the discipline. More so, some of the components of media and communication studies are highly sought after by the industry. When all these factors are put together, there is a high tendency to declare the media and communication studies a threatened species among other disciplines. High competition from the massive number of students offering the courses as well as external threat from those outside who are either talented or who employed self development to warehouse some of the skills that make one a complete mass communicator are pointers to the danger awaiting mass communication graduates beyond the four walls of the school.
The situation is made graver with tertiary institutions that fail to equip their students with the necessary skills. Most often, this is caused by the huge of number of students admitted. And largely by a lack of resources. Over populated classrooms make real and impactful training practically difficult. Studios that are supposed to be equipped and which should serve as a laboratory for the students to experiment their skills and discover themselves are most often and sadly under lock and key. Internship or what is particularly referred to as media attachment is not supervised by the departments. This makes students lose interest in ensuring that they get the necessary link up with the industry.
In the face of these issues with the pedagogy of communication and media studies, what could be the way forward for those who are currently on training for mass communication or media studies? As a teacher of mass communication, I have some pieces of advice for those in training and the graduates already in the labour market.
One, as students in communication or media studies, you have to ensure you get skilled up whether your department makes it a compulsory part of the curriculum or not. This means you have to take the path of self development. Fortunately, the internet is a big classroom. You can choose to learn whatever skills ranging from photography, editing or presentation skills. If you do not do so, those outside of the discipline are willing to go deeper and will give you a run for your money.
Two, practice is the next thing to embrace. After acquisition of skills in your area of choice, what you need to do create a space for yourself is to ensure you practise the skills you have learnt. You can create a blog and write for yourself. You can as well write for other platforms online. If you want to specialize in presentation, you can attach yourself to a local television or radio station by offering to give your service for free. The pay you get is the opportunity to create a portfolio for yourself and develop your work experience. Whether you create a platform for yourself to write for blogs or create your own blog or Youtube Channel, you get to stand out from competition.
Three, create a social media account to prepare for the world of work. Professional social media sites such as LinkedIn give you the platform to showcase yourself and market your skills. They also provide you the link to follow your choice media companies you want to work for. A display of your past works or writings can land you a job. They are also reference points for your employers to understand you have the required skill sets to function within their companies. This equally stands you out of the game.
As commonplace as these ideas may sound, they are important tips that students and graduates of communication or media studies and its variants in Nigeria need to uptake. I have noticed that there is a lack of the understanding of both the intensity of the competition from within and outside of the discipline as well as the required insight to prepare for the future. The earlier this is learnt, the better for the concerned segment of the Nigerian graduates.