University of Nottingham Malaysia

School of Media, Languages and Cultures: Alumni Talks


The School of Media, Languages and Cultures (SMLC) at the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) had a two-day virtual career talk featuring six of their young and prominent alumni in media-related fields as means of giving undergraduates and final year SMLC students an outside-the-classroom glimpse of what their industries entail.

The alumni speakers were as follows:

  • Athira Nortajudin- Digital Journalist for The ASEAN Post
  • Elise Shick - Film Producer at Kuman pictures
  • Jeannette Goon - Freelancer for Projek Dialog
  • Olivia Yeoh - Strategic Planner for Hakuhodo Malaysia
  • Piya Raj Sukhani - Political Research Analyst for S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Siti Salmi - Translator, Copywriter, Subtitler and Founder of Fluent Champ

Each day’s session had a different theme. On Day One, SMLC focussed on the theme of “Research, NGO, Advertising and Public Relations” and invited Piya, Jeannette and Olivia to speak about their experiences in these fields.

Piya, opened the session by detailing her journey from what she did during her undergraduate studies at UNM (International Communication Studies with English Language and Literature, 2018), including representing UNM at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference in Indonesia as a student journalist, working with political leaders at the Wilton Park Forum in Thailand, and participating in debates at the International Student Summit in the United Kingdom. These different ventures led her to becoming a political analyst in Singapore. Throughout her talk, Piya emphasised that education was not about the mere pursuit of information. She encouraged students to explore learning opportunities that would empower them to think critically and communicate their ideas in a compelling, clear, and calm way. To increase one’s employability, Piya urged cultivating a mindset of principles and values. She advised students that true generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.

The next speaker was Jeannette, who, while not yet an alumni of UNM, is currently pursuing her MRes in Modern Languages and Culture and is set to graduate at the end of the year. She shared her experience of being a freelancer since 2015 and gave students who weren’t interested in the corporate world an alternative career path. Quitting her corporate job at a bank in order to learn coding, Jeannette now works on various projects with different companies, including Projek Dialog. During her talk, Jeanette urged students to not be afraid to try different things after they graduate and to experiment with different careers until they find one that they are happy with. Jeannette gave the audience a list of resources such as online courses to learn coding language that she had used to build her skills as a freelancer.

The last speaker of the day was Olivia, who works at Hakuhodo Malaysia as a strategic planner. Having graduated in 2017 with a BA in International Communication Studies with Film and Television, Olivia told us how she applied to work in different fields ranging from film production to content creation after graduating before she took up an internship offer at an advertising agency, thus leading her to her current job at Hakuhodo. At the end of her session, Olivia advised students to step out of their comfort zones and to try new things, even if they have no prior experience as in a creative industry like advertising, on-site experience is valued just as much as the skills you learn in the classroom such as critical thinking, analytical and research skills. Moreover, Olivia also encouraged a keen sense of curiosity, because in fields like this, when one is interacting with an ever-evolving society, one has to keep adapting and keep learning.

The second day was focused on the theme of “Film Production, Interpreting Journalism and Translating” with Elise, Athira and Salmi as the speakers. Elise (BA in International Communication Studies with English Language and Literature, 2016), who is a producer at Kuman Pictures, was the first speaker. In her session, Elise talked the audience through the different stages of production she has to conduct and oversee as a film producer. This allowed the students to get a glimpse into how they could translate what they had learnt in the classroom to industry strengths. Finally, Elise said that as Malaysia’s film industry was still up and coming, those interested in being a part of the industry would have ample opportunity to build up their experience.

The second speaker of the day was Athira (BA in International Communication Studies, 2015), a digital journalist at The Asean Post. Athira talked about her career journey from a humble intern at to the position she holds today. During Athira’s session, she brought up the challenges of working as a writer and a journalist such as the need to keep learning and the need to keep upskilling in order to remain relevant. This allowed the audience to have a more realistic look into what such a career entails. Finally, Athira advised the audience to not be afraid to take risks in their career.

The career talk series concluded with Siti Salmi (BA in International Communication Studies with Film and Television, 2016). Siti began her session by talking about the different positions she held from her graduation to now, which ranged from a multichannel content writer to her current position as a freelance copywriter, translator and subtitler. As a translator, Siti told the audience about the importance of staying up to date with the content tools.  She also advised those interested in pursuing translation to get official certification in the languages they offer.

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Posted on 14th June 2021

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