Irina Belsky

Master of Journalism and Communications
Alumni

Degree: Master of Journalism and Communications

Current Position: Digital Producer, Microsoft

1. What attracted you to studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW?

I had a very interesting introduction to UNSW. My friend was studying journalism there and I snuck into one of her lectures. Before the lecture started, a student got up on stage and asked for volunteers to help him film a documentary for one of his uni projects. 

I was curious about media and film-making so I signed up. We spent four days filming a documentary about coal mining in a remote outback community, doing interviews with the locals and attending town hall meetings. It was a great experience and really sparked my curiosity about doing journalism as a career. 

I then looked closer into the Master of Journalism and Communications at UNSW. What sold me on the degree was its flexible structure, practical approach to learning and because most of the subjects were taught by industry experts with successful careers under their belts. 

2. Did you always have a clear idea of what you wanted to do after completing your degree? 

Nope! It took me a very long time to discover what I wanted to do. Before doing my master’s at UNSW I stopped and started several undergraduate courses including science, commerce and liberal studies and a Certificate of Media at TAFE. I also interned as a runner on a TV series called ‘Dangerous Women’ and taught English as a second language.  

Despite these experiences, I was still unsure about my career path when I began studying at UNSW. 

3. How did your time at UNSW help shape who you are today? 

UNSW opened up my world by connecting me with inspiring people and helping me understand what excites me - making connections with people through communications and technology.  

4. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help you develop transferable skills? 

Most of my subjects were communications focused and I learnt how to deliver a message using different channels. This has been invaluable during my career. So much of what I do involves interpreting information and sharing it in a way that makes sense to very different stakeholders such as software engineers, designers, marketers, data analysts and business leaders. 

5. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help form your view on the world and the contemporary issues we face today? 

UNSW introduced me to the new world of media and helped me understand how journalism was evolving in the 21st century. Connecting with students and teachers from different walks of life was also a way for me to learn about the world and to experience reality through the eyes of others, which was eye-opening. 

6. How did UNSW Arts & Social Sciences help prepare you for the workforce throughout your degree? 

My degree required me to do an internship and this really pushed me to think about my future. 

One of my electives was advertising which I really loved, so I decided to intern at an advertising agency. It was a really rewarding experience largely because of what I learnt at UNSW and was able to apply in practice. I went into my internship with a good understanding of the advertising industry which made it easier to understand how the agency functioned. I was also able to use my writing skills on a daily basis to provide value to the team I was placed with. 

This set me on a more clearly defined career path. When I graduated my first role was in a social media marketing and PR agency which was very similar to the agency where I interned.  

7. How did you get your foot in the door as a graduate, following the completion of your degree? 

I got my first role by networking. I knew I wanted to work in a communications or advertising role so I identified some key people I wanted to reach out to about potential roles. This included business owners, managing directors or department heads of agencies that I found interesting or knew had a good reputation. I approached my first employer during an event where she was speaking and asked her if she had a job opening. She did and things progressed from there. 

8. What advice would you give to someone considering studying Arts at UNSW? 

I think the vibe is really important when it comes to choosing a university. My advice is go to the UNSW campus during the week when it’s ‘business as usual’ and see how you feel. I did exactly that and I felt UNSW had a really open, inclusive and inquisitive atmosphere which I loved. 

As far as degrees go, I think Arts is one of the most flexible options you can choose. This is great if you want to study straight after school but don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do.  

9. What is your most memorable experience from your time at UNSW? 

I loved writing articles for the UNSW magazine Tharunka because it was such a great creative outlet and also a way to build up my writing portfolio. UNSW on the whole was the perfect place for me to explore and try different opportunities and that makes it a memorable experience overall. 

10. Why do you Love What You Do? 

What I do is connecting me to my passions: technology, communications and people. My role is multi-faceted and allows me to provide digital guidance for many parts of the business, collaborate with colleagues from all over the world and be a co-creator of digital experiences seen by thousands of people.