What They Don't Teach Media Professionals in College

William Stephens

Many have debated the pros and cons of studying media through higher education. It can be said that the media work force is a hands on field; and that most positions require on the job training. A concern that has begun to arise is whether or not institutions are preparing students for their media field of choice. However, it can also be said that as technology continues to develop, it is difficult to teach and include new technology in classroom curriculums.

As I have begun to transition from college to the work force, I’ve formulated a few of my own questions and concerns about what they don't teach media professionals in college.

Questions I'm left wondering after obtaining my media degree:

First, what is a structural path for emerging media technicians?

I came upon the career path of the late Peter Jennings. As an anchor for ABC his journalism role was in front of the camera, however this position is considered a part of the media entertainment field.  According to the New York Times, Jennings dropped out of high school, yet this did not stop his journey in hosting his own Canadian radio show which then helped start his journalism career.  The skills Jennings developed would be through first-hand experience.

Second, does a degree really prepare us for our careers?

My second concern arose after receiving my degree. I began to view this piece of paper differently. My thoughts were “are communications degrees helping develop media technicians in the ways employers are looking for?”  In particular, how does a degree prepare one’s interaction skills? For instance, in my current position I have to decipher how to interact with clients versus interacting with coworkers. Along with those concerns came one of my biggest fears. Did I learn enough from my university to perform well at my new position? I was very aware that the material I was studying was a foundation of media.

Third, what important information did they leave out?

From my educational background I can inform one on vast amounts of information; information such as editing concepts, different types of lighting, camera angles, and sound waves. However, I have found that in my current position there are a few fundamental subjects that should have been included in some of my curriculum. Firstly, I wish I would have learned how to install equipment. Installing equipment is essential to any job. In school, units and stage sets were already set up so that equipment would be available for the next student. However, how can students perform well on the job if they do not know how to install the equipment? Alongside learning how to install various equipment, another key tool that I wish I would have been taught was different installation options. There are multiple ways to connecting equipment, whether it is HDMI vs. DVI or the different types of fiber optic connections. Learning how to connect equipment and how it operates are great development tools that every technician should know.

What i learned since starting my career as a Media Technician:

I do appreciate the skills and tools I've learned throughout my higher education. After graduating college I was given the opportunity to work for TeamPeople as an audiovisual technician at one of the organizations contract sites. However, I now understand that autodidactism as well as the willingness to observe and learn are also necessary in order to help further one's career.


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