In a regime where STEM is the preferred field of study for the ‘successful’ students in Pakistan, my decision to go to one of the top universities in Pakistan for BS Mass Communication raised eyebrows in the family and among , friends, and acquaintances. But I told to my parents that I would be solely responsible for this decision of diverting from the conventional fields of study to the new and relatively less popular ones. Most of the students belonging to Pakistani middle-class families are usually brought up in a bubble of STEM where we are given an “either and or” option to choose, owing to the extreme prestige and respect attached to them. Though, today people are bursting out of this science bubble to some extent, at the time when I was in 9th grade, studying art simply meant that the person does not have the abilities and skills to excel in the field of sciences and was labeled as incompetent.
As soon as I completed my matriculation, I was fortunate enough to travel to the USA on a cultural exchange program where I got an opportunity to study subjects that were considered unconventional in Pakistan. I realized through my interaction with my peers that America is perhaps the only country where all fields of education are given equal importance and every profession is considered a bedrock for the progress of the country. Among a variety of subjects such as pottery, painting, and cooking, news production was something that spoke most to me. The course was designed in a unique manner such that the teacher used to assign specific roles to the students for the whole year and I was mainly responsible for bringing advertisements for our magazine. I instantly fell in love with the subject as my role required me to interact with potential clients and sponsors who would invest in our magazine and yearbook. This course fueled my interest in the advertisement, promotions, and communication techniques implied in various aspects of human interactions.
After I returned came back to Pakistan, I was more than ready to dive into the mass communication industry but it was harder than I thought. During my bachelor’s degree, I did two major internships. My first internship was at Islamabad Chambers of Commerce which helped me gain earn experience in the corporate sector. Although it was an internship completely unrelated to the field of communication, I got various chances to use speaking and writing skills honed over the few years in university as my main responsibility was to create project proposals and present them to in front of the stakeholders. This was soon followed by an internship at GEO news, which is known as the very first private channel in Pakistan. There, I worked as a news intern under the mentorship of renowned news anchor, Talat Hussain, and had firsthand exposure to the process of news development as well as news monitoring. In 4 months, I was able to learn skills related to both journalism and public relations. These internships helped me hone my communication skills as I was made to present and interact with the clients. As I got feedback regarding my duties and behaviors from my peers regularly, I became more aware of my personal development and improvements that were required.
Currently, I work as a junior research assistant at a think tank where my job responsibilities involve communicating with clients on daily basis as well as write form reports and papers on the research being carried out at the organization. My job has also allowed me to further improve my designing skills which include video and photo editing. Furthermore, I have practically applied my courses which include a press release and report writing. Along with that, I have recently also started a small home-based business of customized greeting cards which also compels me to deal with customers daily.
Considering all this, I would say that my basic interests in the field of communication align with my career today as my job responsibilities demand me to play a leadership role which in turn requires me to display excellent communication and client management skills, and to enhance my skills and abilities with the help of a master’s degree from the USA. As the communication industry of Pakistan is still growing, it is quite expected that the study and research opportunities available here are also still under progress. For this purpose, I think a master’s degree in the field of communication management from an American institution will prove to be a great asset in my professional career profile. Ultimately, I would like to come back to Pakistan and start a small startup where I would like to train the skills and techniques of communication and Public relations to the students and entry-level professionals and hopefully challenge the prejudice that people of our society hold against such creative fields.