5 minutes with... Tim McKay from OK RDY
The communications industry is diverse and continually evolving with a multitude of career pathways you can take after graduating. Jobs in all fields are becoming much more fluid and the communications sector is no exception, no longer are things as clear cut as marketing or public relations or advertising; now the workforce in both public and private fields are seeking professionals with an understanding beyond just the title of their degree.
But don’t be alarmed, we sat down with Tim McKay, a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations graduate from the University of Canberra and the CEO and Founder of OK RDY, to hear his experience since graduating and to find out more about the current and futures states of jobs.
Can you tell us about your degree at UC?
My Communications degree was completed at a very interesting time. It was in the midst of global disruptions to social media, with companies like Facebook and Twitter really hitting their stride in 2010. It was an exciting time for the communications industry, blending traditional media releases with new and innovative data tools that allowed for specific audience targeting and measurement.
What has been your journey since graduating from UC?
I worked at the University of Canberra for a few years after I graduated, putting my PR skills to use by collaborating with industry partners to engage more with the university and students. After that, I took on a few local roles where I continued to work in industry engagement and most recently a national role collaborating with the academic community and leading technology companies on skills need and the future of work.
How does your degree help in your current role?
Strong communication skills, online engagement and the ability to market yourself, your brand or your product are critical to my current position as CEO and founder of OK RDY. A lot of start-ups have great technology but struggle to communicate the value of their innovation.
Having a background in PR and communications is one of the big things that will help me to succeed in the role.
What is the best thing about what you do?
Innovating every day. Being able to work on global problems and explore exciting ways to help shape the future. If we can support someone’s professional journey significantly or even just move a small step closer to their dream career, then we are very happy.
What has been a highlight of your journey so far?
Our Closed-Beta launch to test our platform OK RDY in Canberra was a huge highlight. Not just personally by having my friends and family attend, but from the amazing support we received from businesses and student community. In many ways this event kicked off our journey as a company and the encouragement of the Canberra and broader community has been very special.
Where do you see the future of the tertiary education heading?
Collaboration between academia and industry will become more and more critical to ensuring that we are preparing students with the right skills for the jobs of the future. Traditionally it has been difficult with the rapid pace of industry change for university degrees to remain relevant for the workforce and produce graduates that can be ‘work-ready’. However, many tertiary institutions have been investing into new innovative curriculums and teaching methods, for credit industry projects and even building incubator and accelerator programs into their eco-system to ensure students have multiple pathways to success.
Why is mentoring important during tertiary education years?
It is difficult for students, particularly those that do not come from a privileged background, and who can’t afford to ‘test’ lots of companies with internships, to understand the plethora of pathways, hear from role models and are able to learn what opportunities are available to them; and where the industry they are preparing for is heading. Learning about a recent graduate or senior professionals’ own journey can really help to break pre-conceived ideas, shape a student’s pathway and help companies identify greatness when it emerges.
Can you explain the platform around OK RDY in a nutshell?
OK RDY is a mentorship and skilled-volunteer platform that helps connect students with professionals and companies; improving employability, diversity and cultural outcomes.
We like to call the current version ‘flash’ mentoring where users simply complete a profile, select their mentorship status, industry and goals. Our matches are spam free, so it is only on a mutual match that a private mentorship channel is created. Allowing matches to chat and schedule meetings with a helpful integrated calendar. After asking some questions or sharing industry insights they can go their separate ways, arrange a regular informal catch-up for ongoing support or recommend a student to various employment opportunities.
The idea came about from a combination of my own unique career pathway, working in the tertiary education sector and for local business groups.
Combined as well with a common university experience of not understanding the first thing about jobs, culture or career paths in the field I was preparing to enter.
It was through the UC’s Public Relations People (PRP) extra-curricular field trips to different organisations across Australia that I first started to see a solution for the common problem. We could speak to professionals and often senior executives about their typical day, get a feel of the culture, learn about how they worked with clients of stakeholders, about problems and how they overcame them; things that aren’t available on most websites. I saw firsthand how this simple experience helped educate students on where they did and didn’t want to apply for internships, programs or graduate positions.
How does OK RDY plan to change the attitudes and ideas of individuals as they move from university to the workforce?
Simply helping provide students with more meaningful access to professionals already working in the field they are interested in while studying. We believe this additional engagement will spark ideas about what roles are available and how graduates can best prepare. Learning about both the opportunities and common pitfalls can really help students identify the pathway that suits their specific interests, skills and passions.
If you had any advice for anyone wanting to do your job what would it be?
Ask questions and don’t ever stop learning! Several times I’ve taken roles that offered less money but allowed me to work with someone great, an inspirational industry leader or executive that I admired. If you surround yourself with good smart people you’ll learn a lot about what success looks like, they will give you opportunities to grow and most importantly, you’ll discover what success means to you.
Don’t be Afraid to breakdown barriers and positively disrupt traditional approaches to problems. We are curious by nature and too often people get stuck in simple daily routine. We forget that if you work hard enough you can be and do anything you want – even if you are the only one that can see it and it doesn’t exist yet!
Dare to dream and dream BIG!
Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations, University of Canberra (2010)
Tim Mckay graduated from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations. Tim now works as the CEO and co-founder of start-up company, OK RDY.
You can connect with Tim via LinkedIn.