Telling a Story
Though it isn’t the first choice for many students (and their parents), a degree in mass communication helps you gain perspective and practical experience
AMONG ALL THE CHANTS THAT parents repeatedly whisper to Indian students, ‘media studies’ is rarely one of them. ‘Engineering’, ‘law’ and the infamous ‘medicine’ don’t leave much room for other considerations. So when students do pick media studies, it is almost always a quiet rebellion against the norm, fuelled by a fierce hope of changing the world. That is what I remember most of the batch of aspiring media professionals I met on my first day at the Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC), in Pune.
At Symbiosis, there were days I remember fondly, when lecturers spoke passionately; other days were difficult, when the reality of the profession would hit home. On yet other days, the thrill of creating something would make up for all the scepticism. What I don’t remember is a day on which nothing happened—there were no quiet days. Twelve subjects a semester, five internships overall and assignments that stretched the boundaries of what I considered possible consumed all my energy. I have felt emotionally exhausted after projects. I have run around the heart of Pune city shooting a news piece for an assignment. I have witnessed my
STUDENTS PUT IN OVER 100,000 HOURS A YEAR VOLUNTEERING WITH NGOs AND CORPORATE CSR DIVISIONS AS INTERNS IN THE DEVELOPMENT SECTOR
batchmates breaking down when we had open discussions on patriarchy. I once spent two weeks reading United Nations resolutions for a history assignment. I have made documentaries with my journalism batchmates, created advertisements from scratch with my advertising batchmates and witnessed my public relations batchmates manage an event based on what they had learned. As for my own fellow film and television batchmates, we shared our struggles until our graduate films were completed.
I also don’t remember a lot of vacation days. At the conclusion of each semester came an internship. I have taught English to underprivileged children while volunteering at Teach for India, worked with children with special needs at a school in Dubai and identified and proposed solutions for environmental issues at WWF-India. I interned with a two-year-old startup called Paper Planes in Mumbai, picking up media skills in the process, and also worked with international brands like McDonald’s and Kiri at advertising giant Leo Burnett. These wide-ranging experiences were thanks to the opportunities available at Symbiosis, and the education that allowed me to do justice to them.
The memories of the many treks I took with my batchmates to the forts peppering Pune’s geography, the much-loved interactive sessions at Panchgani (an SCMC special), the detention hours spent at the library, the behind-the-scenes of our college festivals—these (and more) are memories that will stay with me for life. My batchmates are the sample
group upon whom I project the real world. While this may be a skewed and naïve proposition, their vigour, ambition and passion are my assurance that there is hope. That quiet rebellion against stereotype make SCMC students a refined cohort. This is a legacy here, too. I remember the first seeds of inspirations sown by our seniors to help us be better students, a gesture we have attempted to emulate with our juniors.
SCMC offers students a chance to make decisions every single day. Much of life here is about weighing choices, grabbing opportunities and making something of them. In that sense, it is a reflection of what the media industry is in dire need of today—independence and the courage to take up challenges.
STUDENTS AT THE SYMBIOSIS CAMPUS IN PUNE