By Obakeng Pholo

MY purpose for writing this article as a Media and Marketing practitioner is to share the story of my journey into the profession with people who are younger than me out there; young men and women who might be dreaming of working in the industry in the near future.

First of all, I would like to state that I consider myself fortunate and lucky to be working in an industry that is very competitive, cut throat and amazingly creative. The long hours of working my brain to its capacity and the pressure to create things the world has never seen before, are, in my opinion, all worth it.

I believe that job satisfaction is the topmost priority in any career because if you are not aligned with your calling in life,  you can be the most hardworking individual in the world without ever attaining any satisfaction in what you are doing.

I grew up being told to believe in myself and to have faith that I will make it in life. However, not a single person ever told me how to attain the essence of that self belief.  I discovered later as I was growing up that ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’

A career in the Media and Marketing industry was not top of the list of my ambitions when I was growing up. But while I was in the middle of a Diploma in Communications and Media Studies at Boston Media House in South Africa, where I had only enrolled with the aim of just obtaining a Diploma, a career advisor asked me: “Why are you studying media?”

I replied: “I want to have a voice and give a voice to people like me; I want to have a platform that allows me to impact the lives of people like myself who need it the most.”

As I walked out of that interview  I reflected on my answer. I was taken aback that It had come out as though I had rehearsed it many times before. I suddenly realised that some latent belief in what I wanted in life was lurking in my mind, without me being fully conscious of it.

The first part-time job I had while studying, was unpacking boxes at a retail store during the festive season. Then followed a trail of other odd jobs until my final year at College. All those jobs had nothing to do with my career plan. But in hindsight,  they were a good training ground because they gave me the opportunity to interact with people from all works of life and to work under managers with different approaches to problem solving. All those experiences have come handy in the way my mind processes information in my every day work environment.

Over a period of six years I applied for hundreds of jobs but only managed to land 9  interviews.  During my 2nd year I got a job within my College. I didn’t like it most of the time, because it involved a lot of physical labour. However, that job opened a lot of doors for me.

Through it, I attended a lot of Marketing Exhibitions to set up stands etc. I also got to meet people working in the Marketing and Media world at those exhibitions and started exploring the Internet for the latest jobs in the industry. At College I got together with like minded individuals and we started what we called: “Acts of kindness campaign,” where we organised simple events like giving free coffee and biscuits to the first 100 students to arrive at the campus.

That got me and my team a lot of recognition and support from staff and our peers. After I completed my course and started hunting for jobs, whenever I attended an interview and they said:  “So tell us about yourself” I would launch into my college activities as an organiser of campaigns for good causes.

Now, with 10 months under my belt working for Procter & Gamble in South Africa, I sometimes reflect on my journey into this industry and wonder if I would have been as satisfied as I am career wise, had I opted for a different profession. The answer is NO!

I think that in most other professions workers automatically suppress their authentic selves in the world of work because they have to fit into the strict patterns, including collar and tie rituals which add absolutely noting to the standard of their work. Mavericks who try to stand are quickly pulled back in line, ridiculed or even sacked.  The creative industry on the other hand appreciates mavericks and allows people to think outside the box and come up with outlandish, but often bright ideas.

This is an industry based on fast moving ideas. One has to constantly reflect on the fact that there is more than one possibility per every situation, be it a marketing strategy or copywriting on any subject.

If you intend to work in Marketing and Media what are you doing to prepare yourself for that job? What are you investing in yourself every day? What books are you reading? Are you networking with the right people?

If you are entertaining thoughts about money, fancy cars and a millionaire lifestyle after getting your dream job, apply your brakes now and get real. There is a lot of work to be done between where you are now and the rewarding yet challenging world of Media and Marketing.

If you are lucky enough to land yourself an Internship in this industry, you must seize that opportunity, learn quickly from your mentors, while at the same time dazzling them with your own unique approach and style.

Remember that the most important agent of change in your life is yourself.  You are the most valuable asset you will ever have, without you that dream won’t come true.