UNSW’s Dr Emma A. Jane knows how to prepare students for a career in the fast-changing future of the media industries.
When it comes to career success, there’s a saying we’ve all heard before – It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Let’s get this clear - your academic knowledge and experience do play an incredibly important role in your career success. But we also know that building the right connections can provide you with lifechanging insight into your industry and career opportunities.
Building those networks shouldn’t wait until after you graduate. When you study with UNSW’s faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture (ADA), you’ll be learning from staff who aren’t just practicing professionals in your industry, they’re helping shape the future of their sector.
In this series of articles, you’ll find out how ADA staff in your discipline of study will support you to develop the confidence, professional know-how and hands-on experience to confidently succeed in the career you want.
First up, we talk preparing for a career in the fast-changing future of the media industry with UNSW’s Dr Emma A. Jane.
Meet Dr Emma A. Jane
Emma worked as a professional novelist, journalist and commentator in the Australian media for 25 years before moving into academia. Alongside teaching Media & Communications subjects at UNSW, Emma works as a freelance writer, appears regularly on television and radio and is currently writing her 11th book. She’s a leading expert on cyber violence against women and girls and says that one question keeps her up all day and all night – “How can we play a more active role in the way technology shapes us in order to reach a future worth wanting?”
As a professional in the media and arts industries, what drew you to teaching and UNSW?
My original motivation for enrolling in a Master of Media on top of my full-time job in journalism was pragmatic: I could see that the media landscape was about to change radically and I wanted to stay employable.
Once I started studying, I fell in love with academic theory and research. It has a depth and nuance I adore. That said, I think a lot of academic work is unnecessarily complex and alienating to outsiders, and I like being able to use my journalistic skills to help make learning interesting, relevant, and enjoyable for UNSW students. I hate being bored as much as they do!
How does your industry knowledge and experience influence your teaching?
First, I have a large number of senior contacts in the media and communications sector who keep me posted on industry changes, come to my lectures to talk to students, and host our interns.
Second, I use my personal experience of working as a freelancer and having juggled multiple careers to help teach students how to stay agile in terms of employability.
The way I do that is to put aside pre-existing assumptions about what it means to work in journalism, advertising, PR and media. I then go out and gather real-time information about what employers in these industries are looking for right now. The scary but exciting truth is that many of our students are applying for jobs that didn’t exist when they first started their degrees!
How does UNSW prepare students for the professional world?
At UNSW, we recognise the importance of what’s known as Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) and Career Development Learning. While these terms might sound a bit jargonistic, they’re critical for turning degrees into jobs.
I teach one course called Media Entrepreneurship, in which students work in teams to launch real life start-ups, and another called Professional Portfolio, which is a ‘how-to-get-a-job’ course for our final-year students.
I also look after the School of Arts and Media’s internship programs. In all these courses, my focus is on helping students develop the confidence and know-how they’ll need to quickly and independently pick up new technical skills (like shooting and editing videos, building websites, analysing data, and so on) on the run.
I also focus on skills that are predicted to have long lifespans and that are transferable between different roles. These are known as “entrepreneurial”, “transferable”, “enterprise”, “generic”, “21st Century”, and “soft” skills - they can really make or break a job application.