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Mass Appeal – What you get out of a mass comm course
A few years ago plain vanilla college grads walking into jobs at television production houses and channels was common. That entry route still exists, but a mass comm degree or diploma is also being taken seriously by the television industry. Employers aren’t looking for specific skills – those you are expected to pick up on the job – but a mindset. And having done a mass comm course at least shows you have a serious inclination towards the field.

During the early days recruitments were made directly by the production and creative people. Now, at large companies, HR depts handle the process at the initial stages and a mass comm course then becomes a hygiene factor. It doesn’t ensure you get in but at least you are likely to be called for an interview. Entry level openings for mass comm grads are generally at production houses – small and big – such as Cinevista, UTV, Tracinema, Shadow Films etc (basically the names you see at the end of various programs). News channels take in trainees while entertainment channels seem to prefer those with experience.

The main advantage of doing a mass comm course from a reputed institute is that you get an industry internship. Instis like Sophia, IIMC and and Symbiosis provide students with internships (they are an integral part of the program) while XIC and Jamia do not. A large number of students are picked up by the organizations they intern with. After all, employers get a much better idea of your capabilities over a 1 month period than in a 1 hour interview. Incidentally mass comm courses tend to attract a lot of junta from the North east and Calcutta, as well as smaller towns like Chandigarh.

Bottomline: Bright and articulate college grads who manage to impress head honchos may still land a job without a mass comm degree. Enthusiasm is key. A portfolio of work and the right contacts always help. For the rest, a mass comm degree/ diploma is the best bet.

Like the MBA market, some mass courses have more market value than others.

Here’s what The Industry has to say on the subject:

Preeti Prasad, Associate Producer CNBC India:
“60% of the freshers we take in are from SIMC (Symbi). We also have Sophia and XIC graduates. Jamia grads are excellent but usually go for films and not TV journalism.”
Key qualities: We look for people who have an eye for news, in addition they must take a camera and voice test so personality does play a big role now in news television.
Bottomline: You have to work your butt out – you gotta have it in you to work 16 hours a day and not at a very high salary initially. But the growth is tremendous.

The main advantage of doing a mass comm course from a reputed institute is that you get an industry internship. A large number of students are picked up by the organisations they intern with.

Pavan Chawla,Manager (Programming & Public Relations) SET Max
“XIC, SCM (they all get jobs!, always!!), Symbiosis, Jamia and to some extent EMRC Pune”
Key qualities: It’s important to display initiative – it could be a radio script you’ve written or that you directed a college play.

Piyush Raghani, Independent producer (formerly with Ten Sports and [V]): “I don’t agree that a mass comm degree/ diploma is essential. I know of people who’re plain grads and just landed jobs last week. If you want to do one though Sophia and IIMC Delhi are good. Also Sarojini Naidu Institute (Hyderabad). Jamia is the toughest to get into and an excellent course but you come out this arty, pseudo kind of person who doesn’t want to work in TV and only do films . I’m not that impressed by Symbiosis and XIC.”
Key qualities: Enthusiasm, ability to quickly learn on the job.
Bottomline: If you’re lacking confidence, do a mass comm course. But you could spend that 1 or 2 years actually learning on the job and get ahead faster. I guess courses are useful for those who don’t live in Mumbai or Delhi where the action is and can’t see themselves landing a job on their own.

Satya Mahapatra, General Manager, Non-fiction Programs Production, UTV
“Courses do give you the exposure in theory and we do take in interns from institutes like Sophia. We are taking fewer freshers these days mainly because the trend of daily soap operas means we need less production people.”
Key qualities: Dedication, commitment, eye for detail, willingness to spend long hours, an open mind.
Bottomline: Qualification or no qualification – if you are the right person in the right place at the right time (ie someone just quite yesterday ! – ed) you’ll get that first job and then work your way up.

JAM says:
There are as many views as people in the industry. A mass comm course is not essential but can’t hurt you either. Whether to do it depends on how confident you are about getting a break without one!

The BMM Scene
Mumbai Univ’s 3 year Bachelor in Mass Media course suffers from low awareness levels in the industry. At KC, most BMM students did a summer job with advertising and PR agencies. Bag Films was the sole production house which came looking for BMM students and picked up 3 KCites

Bottomline: A lot depends on the first batch which will graduate next year. If they go out into the market and establish a rep for themselves as talented and hard working, future BMM batches will find the going good. And in the long run, TV will absorb a lot more BMM students than print journalism or advertising.

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