Communications: More than meets the eye

Tan Meng Yoe“Communication” is an underrated and undervalued word, even though it is one of the most fundamental human activity. Everything that we do expresses something to ourselves and others around us, whether we realise it or not. It is possible that because we communicate all the time, we take it for granted.

It is so closely associated with the personal that we pay little attention to the professional aspects of it. The same applies to the media. Our lives are so intertwined with the use of media that there could be no possible reason why you need to spend time studying it. Often, those who are interested in studying the arts, media, social sciences, or communications, have a hard time convincing people that what they are pursuing is worthwhile. After all, who needs to study these things? Dr Tan Meng Yoe, coordinator for the Master of Communications and Media Studies program in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash Malaysia, address three myths about the field of communications to help us change the way we value people with these skills.

Myth 1: There are no jobs

The most prevalent myth about studying communications and media at both undergraduate and postgraduate level is that there are no jobs available. The logic that leads to the perpetuation of this myth is quite simple. If a person studies medicine, he or she becomes a doctor. An engineering student becomes an engineer. The same study-career logic easily applies to law, accounting, pharmacy, etc. But when it comes to the arts, there is no one job to associate it with. Therefore, no jobs.

The truth is, there is no one job associated with this field of study because graduates are adaptable enough to find jobs everywhere. Consider this: Every industry in the world, no matter what their product or service, needs to connect with the public. You can choose to work in the media industry that provides services to a wide variety of clients, or in non-media companies managing public relations, internal communications, corporate communications, crisis management, or social media. Graduates from these fields are some of the most creative and versatile individuals in the job market.

Myth 2: Anyone can communicate well

Communicating well does not come naturally to everyone. Think of the number of times people get into arguments because of miscommunication. Within an organisation, consider how instructions from work supervisors can be completely misconstrued, which leads to poor morale, a toxic collegial environment, and lower productivity. Think about how a one-time gaffe in front of a microphone can bury a politician, how a poor response to a social media comment can hurt a company’s reputation, and you will notice that poor communication is prevalent, and not adequately dealt with.

Part of the problem lies in the incomplete understanding of what communication is. Communication is a two-way process. It is not just about talking to people, making movies, writing emails, or giving instructions. It is also about learning and understanding others and the wider world around us, whether personally or through the media.  This, of course, requires a great deal of critical thinking, something which many shun because it takes too much intellectual effort. The better we understand the complexities of human culture, both on the personal and institutional level, the better we can learn to express ourselves effectively.

Myth 3: No Training Needed For Good Communication

Since the aforementioned skills do not come naturally, training is necessary to master it. It is time corporations pay more attention to all communications processes within their organisation. Whether it is the flow of information between departments, or engaging with the media to improve public perception, experts in these areas are crucial. It is often reported that the lack of communication skills is a common reason why some people do not get hired, and why some fail to progress in their careers. It is also evident that engaging the media, especially in the age of social media, is too often a ticking public relations time bomb. It is time to start investing in specialised training to develop experts to fill these gaps.

The Master of Communications and Media Studies offered at Monash University Malaysia provides just that. Over the course of 1.5 years, students collaborate with like-minded people from various industries, engage with research-active scholars in this field of study, learn different theoretical approaches to communication, broaden their contextual knowledge by learning about latest social and media related issues in Asia, and embark on a research project that develops expertise on the topic of their interest. At the end of the journey, our graduates are well equipped to go further in their careers.

For more information on the Master of Communications and Media Studies program, please click here.