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My dear unemployed communications graduate - an open letter

I must commend you on your hard work in university, I really am so proud of you - getting through mass communication, and even taking the digital media elective. However in case your lecturers omitted to tell you - most of what you learnt means nothing to the job we communications people actually do. I know how exactly how you found yourself in your current "between life phases state".
Second half of the year, and your university campus corridors were abuzz with graduate recruitment weeks. You joined your accounting and engineering friends in collecting pamphlets, but lo and behold when you read the pamphlets, the company wasn't recruiting for communications graduates at all. So what are were you supposed to do?

Unfortunately my treasure, you'll soon learn that life is always more difficult for a communications professional. How do you get around it?

A few tips

  • Timing - November, December and January are the worst times possible for approaching communications agencies for work. In the first two months they're just counting down to the festive season and don't really care about any recruitment-never mind interns, and come January, they've already found interns anyway.
  • Write a press release about yourself - this is what I advise all communications graduates to do. There are many graduates with CV's, but you need to make your CV stand out from all of the others. Write your bio as though it were going to appear on the front page of a newspaper or magazine
  • Become a sponge of the communications industry. Write commentaries on industry issues to companies you approach. Even suggest to the company how they can improve on a campaign you know they've done. You might be off the mark, but they'll appreciate the fact that you've at least thought about the campaign in question.
  • Use Twitter & LinkedIn. No, not to communicate with your friends about your weekend plans, but to build a reputation for yourself around communications and other related interests you may have. Follow people who are experts in the field and I promise you they'll teach you something everyday
  • Look for ways to upskill. There are free online courses on video editing, creating podcasts etc, skills which will set you apart to potential employers and also show them that you are a self-starter who is constantly trying to improve yourself - and THAT will set you apart
Finally, know that all of us went through the emotional rollercoaster of trying to find our big break. Differentiate yourself from your peers - make it a deliberate strategy and you won't go wrong.

Yours sincerely

A previously unemployed graduate

About Mbali Ndandani

Mbali Ndandani is a communications professional with experience in brand, corporate, sponsorship and CSI communications with clients such as Hyundai, Kagiso Trust, Castrol and MTN. Contact Mbali on or follow @MbaliNdandani on Twitter.
Banele Rewo
Rather begin trying to start a business, from the word go…It will work out much better in the end.
Posted on 8 Aug 2012 08:27
Wandile Nkosi
I atest, it is hard breaking into the communications industry. Thus instead of thinking of one as a graduate, rather carry your self as an expert an people will be willing to offer you a chance to show-case your skills/ knowledge. Also if you really want to make in this industry, you have to thrive on creativity, as what you learnt at varsity was just synopsis of what is expected in the industry.
Posted on 8 Aug 2012 09:51
mthokozisi ndlovu
its really hard to get an internships if you're a communication student. m also a PR and communication student and im in a process of hunting an inservice training for 2013 in order to graduate, you'll find that during recruitment week most companies need CAs or secience students.
Posted on 8 Aug 2012 14:49
Victor Sibeko
Very interesting indeed! This should be an inspiration to all the young and upcoming Commuication Professionals.
Posted on 8 Aug 2012 15:03
Wandile Nkosi
Redhed it was an oversight/ miss on attention to details on my part, but thanks for the english tips anyway. Have to wonder though that had i written this comment in Zulu/ Swati my home language, would you have cared to correct me? or was my rudimentary use of the colonizers language a chance for you to put your expert hat on and give yourself the title of a bona-fide communicator. We all make mistakes sir, be they grammatical or otherwise, its just the nature of us humans. Again thank you master communicator sir.
Posted on 14 Aug 2012 08:39
Wandile Nkosi
Redhed did you hear me say i am looking for a job, u need to change your slave and submissive professional outlook, why should we be setting ourselves up for work all the time, why not advise me to start my own biz. For your information sir, i am quite comfortable where am @. Actually am not, because i'll be starting my own ish soon. Unlike you, I definitely Can't be someone's plantation slave forever
Posted on 14 Aug 2012 16:00
Wandile Nkosi
Also can i advise you to not look at communications as standalone profession, as soon as you change your perspective you'll realize that brands are slowly decentralizing their communication, this means that English is no longer the international business language you think it is, hence i can boldly call it the colonizer's language, because i am not rigid minded communications person.
Posted on 14 Aug 2012 16:08
Roxanne Rayners
I look forward to the day that people can accept constructive criticism without becoming defensive and turning it into a race or apartheid issue.
Posted on 16 Aug 2012 16:13
Wandile Nkosi
@ Roxanne Rayners where do you get off?
Posted on 16 Aug 2012 16:30
Cebolenkosi Xulu
Absolutely amazing! I never thought anyone else went through this! Great article... I've just gotten a job in "the industry" and I will forward this to my many friends still in the struggle! I also believe the art of freelancing should be practised otherwise the kids will starve! I know it kept me alive!
Posted on 24 Aug 2012 10:59
Wandile Nkosi
@ papa ( whatever your hideous name is0Please contribute positively towards this article and stop roping my name in all you 2 cents worth of wisdom; you're trying to share here.
Posted on 4 Sep 2012 17:04
thakgatso setseta
so how did you become creative with your cv? share your recipe.
Posted on 9 Oct 2012 16:32
Ekari Mbvundula
Aside from some of the surprisingly heated comments... I totally agree with constant up-skilling. That fragile dream that a degree was enough to stand out from the pack was shattered ages ago. Thank you Mbali, this post helped a great deal. I will write a similar one when I've made my big break!
Posted on 10 Oct 2012 13:06
Teboho Mafodi
This is a nice Article, but can I not respond to ciber batles. In terms of communications we going digital these days. Are you Crazy about Branding & Marketing? Do U hav experience in the Digital Industry or Online Marketing?Hav U been involved in running Campaigns, We are Looking for a Campaign Manager, a Project Manager, Developer & Graphic Designer come join the most amazing creative team for TM Group by emailing ur CV to: no chancers plz, we want experienced people. If you are Looking for an Intern send ur CV as wel, but write Internship on the Subject who knows maybe we might just consider you for the year 2013
Posted on 29 Oct 2012 13:29
sipho mgoma
Indeed it is a nice article and thank you Mr. T. Mafodi for replying with a solution to those having an experience but unemployeed. We will also place our CV's for interns. i have learned that every company success no longer relay on customer only, but Brand and Marketing plays a very big role in companies success. Thank you.
Posted on 4 Dec 2012 13:31

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