Bachelor of Media (PR & Advertising)
Graduation Year: 2012
Current Position: Consumer Engagement Manager at MAC Cosmetics, Estée Lauder Companies
Tell me about your current role...
I work at Estée Lauder Companies in the M.A.C Cosmetics brand team. I am the Consumer Engagement Manager for M.A.C Cosmetics and in this role I am responsible for creating and executing the brand’s consumer marketing and engagement strategy. This involves everything from working with our retail partners (David Jones and Myer), managing our digital and social campaigns with both our media and social agencies, and managing our CRM program.
What does your typical day look like?
The only thing typical about my job is that no day looks like the last. I thrive on change, it keeps me engaged and creatively stimulated. Generally, on any given day you may find me on a flight down to Melbourne to meet with David Jones or Myer to discuss our joint marketing plans for the next fiscal year; out in-store training our teams in how to use our CRM program; planning the content calendar and writing copy for our local Instagram account; conducting an analysis of our competitor landscape; nose deep in a budget; or refuelling at the coffee shop around the corner!
What is one thing you love about your job?
I love the creativity of it. I work in a corporate environment however I get to work on a progressive and creative brand that I love and am passionate about. Prior to this role, I worked in an agency environment where I worked across a lot of different brands and industries. When I made the decision to transition into an in-house role (working on one brand), I knew it would need to be for a brand that I loved and/or believed in. I was very fortunate to find that in M.A.C Cosmetics. It is truly a dynamic brand that allows me to take risks and try new things, which as a creative is something that is important to me.
Did you imagine this would be your career? What would a 17-year-old Jessica think of what you are doing now?
I never imagined that this would be my job, but then I think my current job probably didn’t exist when I was 17! I would encourage recent high school graduates and uni students to pursue their passions and interests but not get too hung up on a specific job, at least in this industry. Media is a forever changing and evolving industry and so you need to be agile in your approach to your career. Social media was only just emerging when I was 17, and now it informs the larger part of our marketing strategy!
What was your Bachelor of Media (PR & Advertising) degree at UNSW like?
I was actually one of the first people to go through the new degree. The thing that I really loved about the degree was that it provided a great balance of practical and theory work. Having that practical understanding of the media industry is so important. I think theory is really important for learning how to write, and how to think strategically and analytically, and these skills will really come into play later on in your career. But having the practical understanding really does set you up for more immediate success when you take your first step into your graduate role.
For me, one of the key things I loved about the Bachelor of Media was that all of the students were really close. We had an incredible relationship and for someone that was brand new to Sydney, that was really important to me. My first role out of uni was in a PR role and I already had amazing relationships with journalists because all my friends had become journalists! Most grads who step into a PR role don’t have contacts so I would really encourage current students to nurture those relationships whilst they are studying because you will all enter the industry together and rise up through the ranks together.
What is your best memory of your undergraduate studies in general?
For me, Graduation Day was one of the best days ever. There was so much excitement. We had all been through it together, we had all spent so much time together, and it was just such an exciting day to celebrate. Everyone has gone onto such different career paths now, but at that time there was so much excitement in the air about what would happen next.
How do you feel that your UNSW Bachelor of Media (PR & Advertising) degree shaped your career?
I think that UNSW has a really good reputation in the industry and they set you up for success by having a healthy balance of theoretical and practical course work with the addition of a meaningful industry internship. UNSW really did set me up for success by creating and enabling an environment where as students we built relationships with one another, we had collaborative classrooms and were encouraged to work with our peers in group assignments. Your peers really are your key contacts when you step out into the workforce.
What is the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?
Simply completing a tertiary degree is really important. I was recently the hiring manager for a Marketing Coordinator role and when I was hiring for this role I would only look at applications where the person had completed a degree. Some people think you can learn a lot online and through practical experience in the industry, however a degree speaks far more than this. A degree speaks to long-term commitment, dedication and fosters a strategical and analytical mind. Practical skills, though important, can be taught on the job, whilst the former capabilities need to be nurtured.
What advice would you give to someone trying to decide if they should sign up for a Bachelor of Media (PR & Advertising) degree?
Although It might sound like it is niche to specialise in PR & Advertising, it really isn’t. What it actually means is that you will take a major or additional subjects with a focus on PR and Advertising, but you are also open to studying in other disciplines. I think that by having any Bachelor of Media degree you are enabling yourself to step into any media role, whether that is in journalism, content management, client management in an advertising agency, a publicity role, or any marketing role. It gives you a holistic understanding of the media industry and then allows you to focus on those key disciplines that are of interest to you.
Do you have any advice for current Arts & Social Sciences students?
Network. Get to know your peers and build relationships with them. Try to gain an understanding of as many disciplines as you can while you are at uni. And do as many internships, and as much work experience as you can. It is really important to want the role that you are in and to be passionate about it, and internships are the best way to prepare you for stepping into a graduate role that you know you are going to love.