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The Mileage Communications Group marks its 28th anniversary in 2020.
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. Personally, I am proud of what Mileage Communications has contributed to the PR industry in Singapore and the profound impact we have made in nurturing creative young minds in the industry.
Make no mistake about this. The PR industry is one that employs a lot of people at the entry level, and many graduates are eager to try their hand at the industry and then decide whether they are suited for it. Indeed, many people — especially the younger Millennials and fresh-out-of-college Gen Zs — move on to other sectors, like law, journalism, finance, and some even join the public service; and they will have worthwhile but very different pursuits.
For students undertaking courses to prepare themselves for a career in the communications industry, they appear to be the ones who are most committed to carving a name for themselves in this industry. But years of rote learning through course curricula comes amidst the backdrop of continuous media evolution, and professionals within the PR industry are always seeking new and innovative ways of communicating and persuading stakeholders. Clearly, theoretical frameworks and approaches in communication models, consumer behaviour, media characteristics, strategic campaign planning, and brand management processes only go so far. Application of theory 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 in subjects and identify trends that could further refine the curriculum of courses provided by the school. As such, I played a key role in shaping the curriculum and setting up the full-time Diploma in Mass Communication at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Soon after, Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Business introduced a similar programme, and I was also invited to serve as an Advisory Board member for almost two decades.
NP FMS has grown by leaps and bounds, and its Diploma in Mass Communication has gone on to become one of the most sought-after courses in Singapore. Graduates from NP FMS have gone on to become prominent professionals in the media scene, and its notable alumni, such as radio deejays and personalities Jean Danker and Justin Ang, have even become household names in Singapore. In 2009, NP FMS launched the Diploma in Advertising & Public Relations, and Mileage Communications has also had interns from this course since its first batch of matriculated students.
Since our inception, Mileage Communications has hosted interns not just from NP FMS, but also from other institutes of higher learning across Singapore, and involved them in numerous projects across the different industries that our clients are in. While we give our interns a holistic experience, they also provide us with new ideas. As a communications consultancy, Mileage Communications treasures their insights and fresh perspectives. In doing so, we develop the ecosystem that value-adds academic learning, and indirectly help the wider PR industry in Singapore. This has given rise to a virtuous cycle, where institutes of higher learning approach us to nurture their students and provide them with a fulfilling internship experience.
At our company, we value talent. We also recognise that talent is groomed through industry-based learning. This is why when interns seek useful working experience or industry knowledge, we do whatever it is necessary to bring them up to speed by providing them with relevant knowledge and opportunities for advancement. This process of developing social and human capital takes up a significant amount of man-hours and money.
Though interns eventually leave us, we are confident that they would have picked up useful skills that add intangible value to their future careers. In that sense, we also help polytechnics and institutes of higher learning refine and deliver an agency-based learning model which is practical and practicable. As a company, that has been the social impact that we have created since our inception, for this accrued wealth of knowledge is spread out to the industry as a whole when they join other companies. This voluntary effort can be deemed as a characteristic of CSR long before it was even a buzzword. Regardless of it, our company is glad to have contributed to the development of PR talent and the growth of the profession in Singapore.