The Mileage Communications Group celebrates its 28th anniversary in 2020. On this occasion, I am especially proud of what our group has contributed to the PR industry in Singapore and the profound impact we have made in nurturing creative young minds for our profession.
Over the years, our Singapore headquarters has taken in numerous interns and seen employees rise up the ranks. Many of them have also progressed with career pathways that take them far and wide.
Make no mistake about this. The PR industry employs a lot of people at the entry level. Many graduates are eager to try their hand at the industry and then decide whether they are suited for it or not. Indeed, many people — especially younger Millennials and fresh-out-of-college Gen-Zers — move on to other sectors like law, journalism, finance and some even join the public service. They will surely have worthwhile, yet very different, pursuits eventually.
Students undertaking courses to prepare themselves for a career in the communications industry appear to be the most committed to carving a name for themselves in this profession. But years of rote learning through course curricula comes amidst the backdrop of continuous media evolution while professionals in the PR industry continue to look for new and innovative ways of reaching and persuading stakeholders. Clearly, theoretical frameworks in communication models, consumer behavior, media characteristics, strategic campaign planning and brand management processes only go so far. Putting the theory into practice, however, is a requisite for this industry and young students will face a challenge in bridging the gap between course material and the real world.
In 1989, I was consulted on the viability of a diploma in communications by Ngee Ann Polytechnic. I gave my endorsement and when it was launched, I was Vice-Chairman (and later Chairman) of an Advisory Committee convened to create what is now known as Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film & Media Studies (NP FMS). The role of the committee was to give useful inputs and identify trends that could help refine the curriculum of courses. As such, I played a key role in shaping the course modules and setting up the full-time Diploma in Mass Communication at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Soon after that, Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Business introduced a similar program and I served as an Advisory Board member for almost two decades.
NP FMS has grown by leaps and bounds and its diploma has gone on to become one of the most sought-after courses in Singapore. Its notable alumni, including radio deejays and personalities Jean Danker and Justin Ang, have become household names in Singapore. In 2009, NP FMS launched the Diploma in Advertising & Public Relations. Mileage Communications has received many interns from this course, as well.
Since being founded, Mileage Communications has hosted interns from institutes of higher education across Singapore, involving them in numerous projects across our clients’ different industries. We give our interns a holistic experience and in return we receive new ideas from them.
As a communications consultancy, Mileage Communications treasures their insights and fresh perspectives. In doing so, we have developed an ecosystem that adds extra value to academic learning. This has given rise to what I call a virtuous cycle: colleges and universities approach us to nurture their students, while we provide them a fulfilling internship experience.
At Mileage, we value talent and believe that talent is fostered through practice-based learning from the very heart of the industry. When interns seek useful work experience or industry knowledge, we do whatever it takes to bring them up to speed, offering them relevant knowledge and opportunities for advancement. Developing social and human capital this way takes up significant amount of money and a number of man-hours.
Interns leave us eventually – this is part of the cycle – but we are confident that they pick up useful skills adding unmatched value to their future careers. In that sense we also help polytechnics and universities deliver a practical, agency-based learning model. This has been the social impact we as a company have created since our inception: our accrued wealth of knowledge is spread out to the industry when these young professionals join other companies. Today you might call it CSR – but we started our practice long before this buzzword became widespread – and Mileage Communications is proud to have contributed to nurturing PR talent and developing the profession in Singapore.