Me & My Career: Relishing challenges of evolving media industry

SINGAPORE – Many media professionals were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with video shoots disrupted and production halted, but Ms Janice Chiang made the most of the situation by helping her company pivot to a new product – live streaming.

This helped Big 3 Media keep generating revenue during the circuit breaker last year, as it was able to help clients – government agencies – put out messages.

“I had some background in live streaming from years ago, so I used that as an advantage to get the teams to quickly learn the ropes, to go out and sell that,” says Ms Chiang, 33, who is head of operations at the media production company.

This is just one example of how the media industry is constantly evolving, she says.

“People tend to think of media industry jobs as writing, video production, being an actress or actor, but media encompasses way more than that, and it’s changing… That’s where the exciting part is.”

For example, viewers now want to interact with videos rather than just watch them, and the gaming industry is growing, she adds.

Although media is typically not seen by more traditional parents in the same light as jobs such as law, medicine and engineering, it is a pretty lucrative career option if one knows how to evolve quickly, says Ms Chiang, who started out in the industry nine years ago and later co-founded content creation company Tree Potatoes.

She says working in media has taught her to be constantly learning, whether it is about the latest technology, trends or youth lingo.

After joining Big 3 Media two years ago, she also learnt about different management styles through Workforce Singapore’s P-Max programme, which provides jobs and training for professionals, managers, executives and technicians in smaller enterprises.

Working with colleagues and clients of varied backgrounds has been a surprising perk of the job, says Ms Chiang.

She recalls working with a stylist who had a hard time walking after an accident but did not stop pursuing her fashion dreams, never complaining about the difficulties even though she had to walk a lot on the job.

“I come from a very traditional family, and after I entered the media industry and met so many different kinds of people with different stories, I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t make quick judgements. You never know what people have gone through and what they have faced,” she says.

Q: What do you do at work?

A: I manage the overall operations and sales at Big 3 Media. Right now, I’m in charge of making sure our new products and new teams are set up properly. We’re doing a lot of product development to adapt to the changing times.

Q: How much do you earn?

A: More than $5,000 a month.

Q: What is your educational background and how have you upgraded your skills along the way?

A: I graduated in biomedical sciences, so when I started in this industry, I knew nothing about media or production. Over the years, I have learnt from industry professionals, attended courses and used the Internet to pick up new skills.

For example, in my first job at (gaming company) Garena, I started out doing very basic operations and marketing work. From there, I had to figure out how to create content for audiences – things like needing a camera, a microphone, very basic things that to most youth these days would be idiot-proof. We had no idea what a producer or director does but we got information online.

When I started running my own company, that was a period of exponential growth for me. We were doing way bigger projects like long-form shows for Mediacorp.

We reached out to people in the industry and they were very open to teaching us the necessary things required to execute big projects like that.

A lot of freelance crew like lighting guys, production people, have been around for many years and they really guided us and gave feedback on what could be planned better.

I’m also taking a management certification from the MIT Sloan School of Management, which I started during the circuit breaker period last year, studying on weekends or after work.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue this career?

A: I love the life sciences, but I did not see myself working in that industry for the rest of my life. I wanted more freedom and expression in my career, so I moved to the media industry instead.

Media is a very challenging industry, where you constantly have to be creative and explore new ideas. You also have to be able to understand the likes and dislikes of your clients and audience. I like that this industry constantly keeps me thinking and challenging myself.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in getting to this point in your career? How did you overcome them?

A: Being creative and coming up with new and exciting ideas are a constant challenge for every media professional. You just have to keep reading, watching and exposing yourself to new people and things.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of the job?

A: One of the best parts of this job is that you are allowed to be creative and to explore ideas. You are not restricted by numerous processes and approvals. In fact, your audience wants to see something new and exciting all the time.

The other thing is when you have created something that your audience and client love. That is very rewarding.

The worst part is the long hours required during production. There are times when we have to work for more than 14 hours a day or there are overnight shoots, which can be very tiring for the body and mind.

Q: What are your tips for people who want to start or grow their careers in this field?

A: If you are still studying or have just graduated, try interning at one of the media companies to see if the industry is suitable for you. If you have already started in this industry, try out different kinds of work to diversify your portfolio. You can do short films, TV commercials, animation, live streaming, and so on.

For mid-career switchers, the media industry is very big, and there are a lot of different roles that you can pursue. It is good to have some basic background knowledge or skills in the role you are interested in before applying for the job, to increase the chances of employment.

There are many courses available here that one can take to pick up these essential skills. In fact, everyone in the media industry is constantly upgrading to keep up with the changes in technology. Learning never stops in the industry.

More on this topic

Spotlight on media jobs

ABOUT THE INDUSTRY

Singapore’s media industry spans broadcast, film, animation, online video, games and publishing.

Local talent has been behind world-class productions such as the movie Crazy Rich Asians, a project helmed by Warner Bros Studios (US) and supported by local company Infinite Studios. It involved 12 Singaporean or Singapore-based cast members and close to 300 Singaporean and permanent resident crew members.

A manpower survey published in 2019 by the Infocomm Media Development Authority found that there were 23,300 media professionals employed here in 2018, up from 20,700 in 2017.

Demand for media professionals is expected to grow by 6,400 between 2019 and this year, according to the survey.

AVAILABLE JOBS

Media roles generally fall into three categories – creative media-related roles such as writer, producer, journalist, online content creator, game developer and visual graphics designer; business roles such as advertising account executive, customer insights specialist and sales and distribution executive for media content; and operations roles in media technology and operations.

Here are some media jobs posted on MyCareersFuture and the offered monthly salaries:

• Assistant producer (1 year experience): $2,200 to $2,800

• Senior Java developer (5 years experience): $5,000 to $7,000

• Media director (14 years experience): $14,000 to $20,000

• Web/Game developer (3 years experience): $4,000 to $7,500

• Digital graphics journalist (1 year experience): $3,200 to $4,200

HOW TO JOIN THE SECTOR

• P-Max programme: Job placements and training for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) to join small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Also supports SMEs in managing PMETs and improving HR practices.

• SGUnited Traineeships: Company-hosted traineeships for fresh graduates

• SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme: Company-hosted attachments for mid-career workers

• Skills Framework for Media: Guide to career pathways, existing and emerging skills and training programmes for the industry

Sources: Infocomm Media Development Authority website, Workforce Singapore

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