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Who works in media and communications internationally?

By Trina Moyles

The verdict is in: some level of post-secondary education is key to getting hired... but there is more to it than that.


Whether you have a journalism diploma, a BA in Political Science, English Literature, or Psychology, or a Masters in Communications, the verdict is in: some level of post-secondary education is key to getting hired, landing a contract, or even freelancing successfully in the field of media and communications. “A good university education provides you with the ability to think critically and independently; to form your own opinions and defend them,” says writer Jennifer Cockrell-King. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you study at college, or university, but that you are capable of conducting research, doing interviews with people, analyzing and synthesizing information, writing, editing, and conveying messages effectively.

That said, if you want to land a job as a journalist, reporter, field producer, director, or photographer with a larger broadcaster, such as the CBC, Al Jazeera, Vice News, and so forth, you’ll need to go the more traditional journalism route. Study journalism at a school that offers direct pathways to do internships with major broadcasters. This will help you get your foot in the door, make contacts with people in the industry, and learn about the media environment. “A journalism program can help you make amazing connections,” says Dagna Gallinger, who had the opportunity to do summer internships with the CBC Radio program, As It Happens. The connections Gallinger made while at journalism school helped her land a full-time, permanent position with CBC after graduation.

Even freelancers need to demonstrate accreditation to attract clients, says Cadence Konopaki, a freelance digital marketer based in Dublin, Ireland. “In the world of digital marketing, things change so quickly. Even if you get a marketing degree, every year, you’ll want to take a course. Five years down the road, you’ll want to do a post-grad, or diploma – something to show [clients] that you’re keeping up [with the changes].”

Personality traits and competencies

Aside from education, what folks who work in media and communications have in common is that they are highly adaptable to new working environments; they can think quickly on their feet – they’re ‘ideas people’ – they know how to identify their audiences, they can keep up with social media and technology trends, and most importantly, they know how to tell stories that resonate. “Don’t forget,” says Gallinger, “If you want to be a journalist, you need to consume media. Read. Watch TV and films. Get an idea of what kind of media you want to make.”

While working overseas always involves challenges that come with adapting to a new culture, work environment, and way of communicating, some of these issues are front and centre for those working in the field of communications. Kristjanna Grimmelt is a Canadian public relations specialist working in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for a feminist organization. Not only is speaking Spanish critical to her work as a communicator, it’s equally important to understand the cultural context.

“It’s important to be sensitive as a communicator,” cautions Grimmelt. “In Honduras, the vast majority of people are very religious, which makes it difficult to talk about issues, such as reproductive rights. You have to think about how to share information that resonates with people.” Employers, or potential clients will want to see that you have experience communicating in culturally diverse settings – past volunteer and work experiences will be key assets to add to your toolkit.

Finally, get used to racing to put together communications strategies, find and interview sources, write papers and articles, produce TV shows and documentaries, and discover ways to tell new stories and perspectives – and still meet your deadlines. The individual who can excel in this line of work, particularly working in new cultures, will thrive on rising to the challenge of creating and producing quality content, and at the same time, beating the clock.


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Verge believes in travel for change. International experience creates global citizens, who can change our planet for the better. This belief is at the core of everything we do.

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