Advice for media graduates (P1): How to establish a personal brand

IN this three-part series, we speak with media professionals and draw upon personal experiences to help aspiring media practitioners gain an edge after graduation. Christian Teo tells you more.


Becoming a media professional in the 21st century means you will need to establish yourself as an agent for excellent communication in whatever organisation you find yourself working in.

As a media and communications graduate you will be both challenged and privileged with opportunities that vary in required skillsets. The most important thing before embarking on these trajectories is to know where your own abilities sit and how you may leverage off of them to begin your career in a place that nurtures and inspires you.

This guide will help you navigate through an industry that values professionals who not only work with a set of tools, but also know how to best use them.

After talking to former colleagues and relating to personal career experience, here are the three most important things to consider:

1.   Establishing a personal brand

2.   Flexibility

3.   Research

In this three part series we look at each of these tenets from the view of industry professionals as well as from my own personal experience. I hope this will be useful to you as future media practitioners and that you will be able to take something from these insights going into your respective domains.

The Personal Brand

A personal brand is paramount for carving a place for you in the competitive job market. Identify what it is that you are good at and what traits would make you an asset to a relevant organisation. Do you have exceptional investigative skills? Are you a highly proficient orator? Perhaps you appreciate the often subtle but influential nuances of intercompany relationships. To understand your strengths is to better navigate the sea of media and communications positions.

Note that a person’s traits may not be anything particularly unique in one given firm, but highly valued in another. My endeavors in marketing and advertising were decisions made on the acknowledgement of my inclinations toward business, as well as a flair for creativity. I saw the potential in channeling my strengths in ideation, writing and business sense toward a job scope that would fit and help me to grow as a communicator.

As a marketer working in brand management, I was challenged to generate engaging ideas that would clearly communicate the views of my organisation while reaching out to different audiences (each encompassing their own nuances and intricacies). Business sense had to underpin my ideas every step of the way and it was challenging balancing creativity with profit margins. For all its complications (perhaps at times contradictions), this work allowed me to flex my creative muscle in a way that was both exciting as a task and stimulating to my personal development.

Identifying your personal brand is an ongoing journey to discover which of your communication abilities best translates into industry practice. Following that is the search for a suitable company within that framework to promote yourself and show that you are the right person for the job. Poh Yimin, an Account Executive at advertising firm Dentsu Singapore shares her views on this.

Yimin’s role involves the facilitating of communication between internal (creative, planning, traffic and media departments) and external parties (clients, media owners and production teams). She also undertakes work spanning from media monitoring to the coordination of creative departments, as well as idea pitching and budgeting. On why she chose a career in advertising, Yimin explained that:

“After experiencing 3 years of mass communication studies, I know that I want to be in advertising. I like convincing people and selling ideas, so naturally I went on to account servicing.”

An awareness of your abilities, preferred environment and work dynamic will help illuminate paths where you might best fit. It might also mean a more positive working experience. Yimin added that:

“I’m blessed with supportive team mates and colleagues who’d give each other moral support when sh*t hits the fan. I service the Canon account, which is relevant to my interests. Apart from the way we work and play hard, it does help that the working environment is less corporate and stifling,” she reveals.

Take time to understand your strengths and identity. As students, learning and figuring things out are all part of the experience. In understanding your personal brand you may find the search for a suitable organisation to be less of a hurdle, and more of an expedition.  In the next part of this series we look at what it means to be flexible, and how your personal brand will prepare you for a fast-changing and (at times) unpredictable industry.

Christian is a Media and Communications and Sociology student at the University of Melbourne and has previously worked in The Prime Minister’s Office (Singapore), Deloitte Clients & Markets Southeast Asia, DDB Shanghai, Toffees & Devs Communications and various other capacities in communications.

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