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Communications and Ethics
Especially in the field of Communications, I always try to inspire students entering their field to reach outside the norms and acknowledge that the world of media is ever-changing. And with this ever-changing nature, students must look ahead to strive to break negative societal norms as well as be a light in their future careers. Whether your major is in the sphere of communications or not, I especially appreciate helping all applicants who see potential in their future career practices to think more critically on current issues in the realm of what is ethical.
In the globalized world of communications, companies in one country can easily do business with firms across the world. Different cultures can sometimes complicate business dealings. Mores and norms vary from society to society, but corporations need to set certain ethical standards, especially for communications. For example, if a communications supplier in one country finds bribery a perfectly acceptable way to conduct business, his buyer needs to look elsewhere. It does not matter that this supplier offers the cheapest prices. Corruption cannot be tolerated in the communications world.
Up until the financial meltdown of 2008, the communications world emphasized short-term results. Business executives received extravagant compensation packages for closing deals, no matter how the transaction affected the company in the long run. Financial institutions lent to borrowers freely, not considering their ability to repay the loans. Eventually, debtors defaulted on their loans, and the economy stood on the brink of collapse. Ethical leaders in all fields, especially communications, need to ignore easy profits and focus on future ramifications of actions, even if it earns less money for the company.
The Humanitarian Side of Communications
Communications is one of those subjects that lends itself to almost any niche, organization and area of humanitarian work. In fact, do any research online for humanitarian-related work in communications and the media, and you’ll almost have too much to choose from!
While you can get humanitarian work straight out of school, a Master’s degree will naturally make you more employable. We’ll look at both of these routes here: the Masters programs available to you and some of the jobs available out there in the humanitarian market.
Humanitarian Positions For Communications Masters Graduates With Experience
To give you an idea of the sort of positions in demand in the workplace right now, let’s jump right in and consider the following example. At the time of writing, the UN Development Programme is recently seeking a Communications Consultant in New York. The contract is for 4 months, and the post level is international consultant.
To get this post, you’ll need an advanced university degree (a Masters or equivalent) in communication, journalism, international relations, public administration or related field – or, a first-level degree and two additional years of qualifying experience, instead of the advanced degree. However, they are also asking for a minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience in public information, public relations, journalism, international relations or other area, preferably within humanitarian organizations and contexts.
The type of duties involved in this role include supporting the World Healthcare Students Symposium (WHSS) and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with liaison for the production and distribution of press kits, media products and other communications materials; organize other activities to promote awareness and outreach, including attending and participating in press conferences, interviews, press seminars, etc.; plus many other activities.
Starting with this example may be beneficial to you, as it shows where you might be able to get to in the future, and demonstrates that there is a real need for communications experts out there in top organizations in this field.
Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office of the World Health Organization
The Pan America Health Organization recently produced a document detailing how to manage information during emergencies and disasters. You could be employed to write similar documents as part of your work at an NGO or other humanitarian organization. This particular document, “Information management and communication in emergencies and disasters: manual for disaster response teams, was edited by Susana Arroyo Barrantes, Social Communicator at OXFAM; Martha Rodriguez, Social Communications Advisor, PAHO/WHO and Ricardo Perez, Regional Advisor in Information, PAHO/WHO. To head in this direction, what about getting a Masters in Communications or International Relations. More on that later.
Internews is currently looking for a Humanitarian Communications Specialist to work at various locations. This Specialist will work to support the Humanitarian Country Team strategic response for 4-6 weeks, with a possible extension of several months.
The required qualifications for this post include previous experience designing and implementing communication with communities and/or beneficiary communication; significant experience using media and communications in humanitarian emergency responses; relevant university degree; a very good working knowledge of the mandates and modalities of the international humanitarian sector, including the UN cluster system. Another demanding post for a highly qualified individual, and something to work towards, especially if you’ve recently completed your Communications degree.
Humanitarian Positions for Communications Bachelor’s Degree Graduates With Experience
Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organization committed to the helping the poorest people in the least developed countries in the world. At the time of writing, they are looking for a Communications Officer with a Bachelor’s Degree in communications, journalism, or a related field and 5-7 years’ experience working with multimedia content creation, fluency in visual and graphic design software and a solid knowledge of social media platforms.
Camris International is a growing international development and research firm that has worked in more than 80 countries. They are currently looking for senior, mid and junior level Communications Specialists to provide support to their anticipated Middle East and North Africa Services (MENA) proposal, which aims to provide administrative, technical and programmatic staff support services to the field-based programs managed by USAID’s Middle East Bureau.
Camris International accept graduates with a Bachelor’s degree to work at the junior level, if you have experience participating on a multi-disciplinary cross-cultural team, and provide expertise in quantitative and qualitative evaluations methods, which would be fairly easy to accumulate with a degree and some volunteer experience abroad!
Masters Degrees For You
A Master’s degree is ideal if you’re a high-flyer and want to get into top positions in the humanitarian field. A combination of this and some relevant experience working as a volunteer or intern abroad will make you super employable.
You have a number of options open to you. You could simply develop your existing skills and go for a Master’s in Public and Corporate Communication; Media and Communication; Journalism, Media and Globalization or Social Science, Media and Communication Studies.
The Masters in Public and Corporate Communication at the University of Milan in Italy is geared towards enabling students to perform management and organizational roles in sectors like public relations, public administration, international humanitarian NGOs, journalism and political campaigns. The course is taught in English over 24 months, and you can specialize in either corporate communication marketing or public and social communication.
The M.Sc. in Social Science, Media and Communications Studies at Lund University, Sweden is a two-year program with module choices like Media and Political Engagement, Media Audiences and a Study Abroad program, and focusses on questioning and understanding global media structures and processes in modern life. It draws on world class scholars who have published key works in media and communication and teaching is based on international expertise in areas like democracy, participation and social media, as well as many others.
Another way to get into the humanitarian field is to study a Masters that is directly related to this kind of work, such as an M.A. in Humanitarian Action, International Relations; an M.Sc. in Emergency Management, Emergency Services Administration or Security Management.
For example, the Syracuse University in New York, US, runs an International Relations (Multidisciplinary) course made up of five core courses, including international relations, economics, quantitative analysis, program evaluation and management and one of five signature courses in accordance with their chosen career track.
The different tracks include development and humanitarian assistance; governance, diplomacy and international organizations; peace, security and conflict and regional concentrations in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. An internship program is an optional part of the program, and proficiency in a second language is required.
Feeling inspired? The first step once you’ve chosen a few degrees you’d like to apply for is getting all the documentation completed for your graduate school admission. If you’d like some help with your personal statement of purpose, we offer professional services you can take advantage of!