Campaign Executive, TVNZ
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Radio
Communication studies at AUT is one of a kind, says Keani Erstich-Coles who completed a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Radio.
“I loved that AUT’s communication studies degree combines both practical and theoretical learning, so you get the best of both worlds and gain skills that will be useful out in the media industry. All my lecturers were supportive and believed in my potential, no matter where I ended up in the industry. They really encouraged us to think outside the norm and challenge the status quo.
“I had so many lightbulb moments during my time at AUT – from the small things of finally understanding a media concept to realising that I wanted to come back and lecture at AUT one day.”
However, Keani’s most memorable experience was one particular group assignment.
“For this group assignment, we could talk about an issue currently circulating in the New Zealand media, and I pitched to my team that I’d like to talk about the ongoing Ngāpuhi treaty settlement process. My whole group loved researching and working on it. Then, after we presented, the whole class was in a shocked silence. Each person told me how much it helped them understand Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the history of New Zealand. It reminded me why I want to work in media and produce meaningful Māori stories.”
A fresh start
For Keani, the journey into the media world started when she left her small hometown Ohaeawai in Northland to move to Auckland and start her studies, supported by the McDonald’s Te Tai Tokerau scholarship as well as scholarships from her iwi, Ngāpuhi, and the Māori Education Trust.
“I was excited to leave my small town and really make the most of the opportunities that Tāmaki Makaurau presented to me. I was fortunate enough to be awarded the McDonald’s Te Tai Tokerau scholarship for Māori students in Year 13, which enabled me to live at Akoranga Student Village – AUT’s student accommodation near the North Campus – with my fellow scholarship recipients.
“Living in student accommodation in my first year really set me up for success during my university experience. It also helped me make lifelong friends. The Māori student support team also helped me push through all the hardships I faced. They were my whānau away from home.”
She loved sharing her experiences with other students, says Keani who is of Māori and Croatian descent.
“Working with Takawaenga Māori, Māori Liaison Services, as a Māori student mentor and with student services as a student ambassador, and speaking to visiting high school students was a privilege. It made me feel as though I was making a difference to incoming students at AUT.”
Taking on new responsibilities
After graduating from AUT at the end of 2019, Keani now enjoys managing advertising campaigns for clients like McDonald’s, Apple and SKY TV.
“As a campaign executive at TVNZ, I work alongside the commercial sales team to bring New Zealand the ads you see across all TVNZ channels such as TVNZ 1, TV2, DUKE and TVNZ OnDemand. I love getting to work with a team who are around the same age as me, and facing new challenges every day. You get a lot of responsibility quickly, so you have to learn on your feet, which is the best way to go!”
Her advice for other students? Always remember your ‘why’.
“Your ‘why’ should always be at the forefront of what you do. This will help you get through anything and everything. Remember that it’s normal to go through challenges during your time at university, but know that there’s whānau all around you at AUT who will help you get through and be successful.”
*The Radio major is now known as the Radio and Audio Media major.