Kayla Medica

Alumni

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts - Linguistics and Japanese Studies

Current Position: Australian Marketing Manager for Perkbox

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

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after school when I was studying my HSC, but my grades were good and I was enjoying my elective subjects. Towards the end of year 12, my year advisor let me know that I’d been selected for the AAA scholarship at UNSW, and that definitely helped making the decision to study there.

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

I did, but it wasn’t that simple. I picked up Linguistics as my second Major, and ending up falling in love with it. So much so that I wanted to go through a Masters and PhD to become an academic and work at a university. I did my Masters straight after my Undergraduate, but working closer to the industry made me realise it wasn’t quite for me. I was translating from Japanese to English for a small Japanese marketing agency based in Sydney while doing my Masters, and from that I picked up marketing and eventually transitioned into that industry. I am really lucky that Linguistics is quite important in marketing, so I still get to use all the things I learned from both my degrees.

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

A lot of the friends I made in uni are still my best friends. Half of them I met through classes and half of them through social groups. I think UNSW is really good for that - the social life and campus is really good. I’m still involved with the university through a few channels, especially the entrepreneurship side of it and mentoring students who are interested in starting businesses.

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

If I went back in time and did uni again, I’d pick the same subjects and majors for sure. Studying a language gave me a world view, and the ability to empathise with people and see things from their perspective and not just when it’s cultural. Linguistics is in everything we do, even for you reading this right now you’re using Linguistics and the ability for me to communicate my thoughts and experiences to you is Linguistics. Studying Arts gives you so many insights and pieces of knowledge and wisdom that, when looked at as a whole, gives you a good picture of how people work, how the world works, and how business works. Sure, your future employer will never ask you to write a 5,000 word essay, but your ability to structure an argument to back up your request for a higher budget or headcount will be stronger if you’ve written those essays in uni and you can argue your point with confidence.

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

I think studying a language and culture that’s so fundamentally different from my own inevitably gave me a broader world view. I was never interested in politics, or business, or any of that kind of stuff growing up, but now I follow it quite closely. When someone asks me to “think outside the box” or find a solution, my answers often just come from the way another culture does something, I don’t make it up from scratch. So, having that global knowledge is invaluable.

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

Almost every semester was full of group projects so there’s that side of it - having to work with others and manage projects and time. I did a full course load and I worked part time as well, so I had to learn time management out of necessity!

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

I have a really weird story of how I got my first ‘career’ job that wasn’t retail. I geo tagged a Japanese restaurant on Instagram and wrote the caption in Japanese - it turns out the marketing agency I ended up working at managed that restaurant’s social media and they saw my post and asked if I wanted to do an internship with them because they were impressed by me. The internship turned into three years of working there and they let me study my Masters on a full course load during that time as well.

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

The things you learn in Arts will stay with you for your whole life. When will you ever not need communication skills or critical thinking skills? When will you ever not need to prove your point, form an argument, or work with someone else? If you don’t know what to do at uni, but you’re set on going straight after school and not taking a gap year, then do Arts because it’s the most flexible degree, it includes so many subjects, and all of them are valuable, and all the skills you learn can easily be transferred into another degree if you change your mind later. The other thing is that because so many subjects fall under the Arts faculty, the way you combine Majors, Minors, and general education and elective subjects makes your education unique. No one else will come out with the exact same degree as you, so when you’re applying for jobs you can use this to stand out and draw on your broad experience to answer job interview questions.

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

I was part of the executive team for the Baking Society, and part of the original group that helped set it up way back in the beginning. Everyone loves cake so it brought such a huge variety of people together and it was so much fun to be a part of it. For the two years I was in the exec team, we were the most active social club on campus with the most amount of activity recorded by Arc, so we were definitely having a good time!

10. Why do you Love What You Do?

Right now I’m the Australian Marketing Manager for Perkbox. I love what I do because I get to use Linguistics, and creativity, and have fun in my job. I’m really lucky that throughout my career I’ve been able to force my roles to be what I want them to be, and I’m able to say “I want to try this” or “we should experiment with that” and then I get to run with it. Arts and essay writing and critical thinking is what has given me the confidence to do that. I don’t know where I would be if not here!