Projects With Industry Players Boost Students’ Confidence

By Zalinah Noordin
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G. Manickam Govindaraju

Lecturer

School of Media and Communication

Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus

THE UNFORESSEN and unpredictable situation following the pandemic that the world has been experiencing since last year changed life in so many ways.  It has affected the entire structure of the world in terms of socio-economy and the well-being of many.

Most activities have taken a backseat to make space for those that are deemed more necessary for the functionality of society . However, academia is a functioning sector that continues with its service, come rain or shine.

During lockdowns, working from home, and travel restrictions do not allow educators to continue the conventional teaching and learning pedagogy.

A sudden adaptation to online teaching and creative teaching were carried out so that the students remain attentive and participative in the online classes. Many reports have highlighted and explored on the challenges of online teaching method, which includes among others, poor Internet connection, lack of devices, insufficient mobile data, different time zone for international students, and many more.

Though the challenges above are very real for those who conduct online classes, educators, continue to participate in various online skill trainings. We explore new technical skills which can help us plan our lessons and make them more interactive and interesting for the students. This is one part of the education situation that almost all educators are dealing with.

Besides teaching modules, many higher learning institutions also have another part of teaching for the final year students, which are project based. These final year students’ project-based modules can be in the form of undergraduate academic thesis writing, final assignments, or pure projects for a client. I have been involved with this type of pure client-based projects for the past three years and it is very much based on soft skills such as stakeholder management, negotiation, presentation, and so forth.

Coordinating client’s needs for physical public relations activities and students’ skill sets in the past were a challenge as it involved careful planning, logistics, promotional activities, campaigns and of course, last minute changes. It included a lot of stress, excitements, anticipations, disappointments, breakdowns, and tears, most of the time tears of joy after a successful public relations activity and a happy client.

However, due to the pandemic, certain adjustments took place to accommodate project accomplishments, from physical to online projects. As there are travel and other restrictions, we organized online projects for our clients, and everything took place without any physical meetings between the students and client.

I am proud to have been able to successfully secure projects with the Department of Agriculture (DOA), Putrajaya for my students. Public Relations Event and Consultancy students carried out two social media campaigns for DOA. One of the projects were “Youngriculture” campaign which aimed in creating awareness on the opportunities that are available under the agricultural department and another was “Jom Harumanis” campaign, where exposures on the mango fruit’s health properties and benefits, as well as career opportunities were given.

Conducting projects requires students to be ready and prepare to meet client’s requirements, manage issues, convey key messages accurately through the media collaterals for the campaigns. All these can only be carried out when everyone is in sync with the project’s objectives. Teamwork, respect, and individual’s attitude play a big role in ensuring a project’s success.

As project advisors, we have a huge responsibility in ensuring students are delivering according to client’s requirements and meet the objectives of the projects. This means a project is not carried out like a class activity with lectures and tutorials. Students are exposed to the real working world experience of public relations, and they need to be ready 24/7. Fine tuning students’ mind to be responsible for their actions, taking ownership, perform tasks confidently and independently do not happen overnight. They need to be trained throughout the education system to be independent, understand consequences of their actions and most importantly take ownership for their mistakes.

Despite many revisions, proof readings, and rejections, both projects were a great success and lauded by the client. The students learned everything under one project from an industry client. Project collaborations with industry provide a good exposure to students, especially to those in the final years. In essence, we produce confident graduates who have successfully executed projects for actual employers and clients. Therefore, more industries are encouraged to collaborate with academic institutions as this is a win-win formula.  

G. Manickam Govindaraju

Lecturer

School of Media and Communication

Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of TVS.

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