Prince Ndlovu is a young media strategist at media agency, Starcom Media Vest, and the first beneficiary of the Advertising Media Association of South Africa’s learnership programme. Here he tells aspirant media planners and strategists just how to make the most of a challenging and rewarding career.
As a university student, I, like many graduates, was faced with the daunting reality of competing with thousands of others for the few graduate level jobs available out there. Whilst completing my third and final year of a National Diploma in Marketing, through a chance meeting with Gordon Patterson, the Group MD of the Starcom MediaVest Group, I was introduced to the Advertising Media Association of South Africa (AMASA) Learnership Programme, and called for an interview with AMASA.
I had never been to a formal interview before the AMASA ALP process, so was really nervous. I received a call for a second interview to meet the ‘big boss’ – Gordon Patterson himself. When Brad Aigner, the then chairman of AMASA, called to tell me that I had been chosen as an AMASA ALP intern, I couldn’t believe it was true. At the time I was studying marketing at The University of Johannesburg, and would’ve continued into the marketing field, had I not been exposed to my potions in the media industry, through the AMASA ALP.
I had a huge interest in advertising, but had no practical understanding of how media agencies, media owners and clients fit together in the bigger picture. Through my experience with SMG, AMASA and the Learnership Programme, I was taught how each agency and stakeholder play an important role in the media landscape, and how each should be respected equally.
The main benefit of participating in the ALP is being given the opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the leaders in the media industry, build strong relationships with industry peers and media owners and to get an unprecedented foot in the door, while being paid a salary. Being one of the first ALP intern ever, was a great benefit on its own. The spot light was on me and I wanted to prove that I was the right choice for the opportunity, and that I could handle working, studying and add value to the company.
I’ve been in the media industry for two and a half years now and some of the highlights have been being part of the team that presented winning strategies at the AMASA workshop, attending the AAA Media Module and being given the opportunity to do a radio presentation at Wits with some of my colleagues. As part of the internship, I was also given free entry into the AMASA Media Planning Workshop and the AMASA AAA Media Module, it really is a privilege.
What has really worked for me so far is that I was given the opportunity into a company with some of the best media minds in the industry. The team gives me confidence and I am always willing to learn from them. Being at one of the best media agencies in the country challenges me to do my best in everything and apply passion to everything I do.
Being one of the first two ALP students chosen also encouraged me to set a good example for those to follow us, and to show other graduates that being part of AMASA’s ALP is a great way to kick start a career in a industry that new to you.
Since my internship I’ve moved on to become a junior strategist, which challenges my growth every single day. I’ve worked on some great brands including Nestle’s Nescafe, Ricoffy, and Milo, Renault and Avon and I’m currently working on BlackBerry.
My vision is to become one of the best strategists in the industry, to come up with award winning strategies and be a role model for young people coming into the media agency industry.
For those wanting to enter media industry, I would recommend completing the AMASA AAA Media Module as well as the AMASA Media Planning Workshop to form a solid base. They cover the basics of each medium in the media landscape as well as media maths, how to develop a media and how to present it professionally. As part of the ALP programme, selected candidates are registered to both educational initiates at no cost, and I can’t express how much these have helped in my career development.
Going to the workshop in Little Switzerland in the Drakensberg really showed me the dynamics of the industry in a nutshell. From having a workshop all day long, putting a strategy together overnight, presenting in the morning and partying all night. The material covered at the workshop was extremely helpful, especially with me being on the agency side, I could take all my learnings and apply it in my work environment. The lecturers were presented by some of the best in the industry, with some lecturers being particularly relevant to me as in their professional life, they do exactly what I’m doing at SMG.
The AAA Media Module material was really useful and the classes were very interesting as they are made up of a mixture of media owners, clients, agencies and full time students from AAA.
My advice to the next students applying for the AMASA ALP is that grab the opportunity with both hands. It provides you with a unique footstep into an industry that’s dynamic, always challenging the way you view media, products, brands and advertising. You will have fun, sleepless nights and days where you want to cry, but at the end of the day, seeing your first campaign on TV, billboards or hearing it on radio brings such a thrill, that it will definitely get keep you up at night!
Prince Ndlovu is an AMASA ALP intern and Junior Strategist at Starcom Mediavest Group