Despite falling short of success in secondary school, Caitlynn Wendt is close to completing a Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) degree – and she has no intention of stopping there. A published poet and PR major, Caitlynn plans to take on a post-graduate honours programme in 2018, marking her fifth consecutive year as a Wintec student. When asked how she maintains such a highly motivated mindset in adulthood, the hard-working wordsmith credits one key factor: timing.
After struggling with personal trials in high school, Caitlynn’s enrollment at Wintec stemmed from newfound drive, which has continued to thrive over time. She recently gave us an insight into her eye-opening Media Arts journey, which has seen her partake in the groundbreaking Design Hub pilot and have her work professionally published.
What’s inspired you to pursue a degree in communication? Did you know you’d go down this path before starting your Introduction to Study course?
I’ve always had a strong passion for writing. Initially, I wanted to pursue journalism as a career, but I soon found that public relations and advertising attracted me more. I think either way you go in communications, there’s plenty of writing. So I got what I wished for – a future in writing.
Have you been set on pursuing PR since beginning the BMA or did you decide part-way through? What attracts you to PR as a career?
When I first started at Wintec I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. It wasn’t until the second year of my degree that I realised my passion was in PR and advertising. PR and advertising attracted me because of its creativity and diversity. In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.
In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.
You did not enjoy secondary school but you have gone from strength to strength in your tertiary education. Do you think this has made you a lot more determined to succeed academically and professionally now, as an adult?
When I was in high school, I was dealing with a lot of things. It was a difficult stage in my life and I think the timing just wasn’t right. When I decided to enrol at Wintec, I had realised that I could achieve my dreams. I was ready to chase them and determined to succeed. This time, the timing was right.
You became a published poet late last year when your piece ‘False Love’ featured in Issue 1 of Wintec honours project Emergent – do you believe studying for a communication degree has played a significant part in influencing your creativity and self-expression as a writer, or has this always come naturally to you? Has poetry long been a passion of yours?
Absolutely, I’ve always had a passion for writing and I’ve always practised that passion, but never pursued it until my degree. Through my degree, I’ve had opportunities to strengthen and share my writing on an academic and professional level. My creativity and writing have improved immensely and Wintec gave me an opportunity to share my work. This has encouraged my writing and made me realise that it’s worth sharing.
Combining your Introduction to Study course, the Certificate in Media Arts, and soon a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, you’ve essentially been studying at Wintec for four years – how have you maintained your drive and motivation?
I always thought I wasn’t good enough because I’ve had people tell me that I would never be successful. Ever since I realise that wasn’t true, I’ve lived with the idea of failure not being an option. Every time things got difficult, personally and academically, I reminded myself that failure wasn’t an option. I’ve made it this far because I realised this was a journey I had to do on my own. I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.
I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.
Tell me about your experience being a part of the pilot Wintec Design Hub. What did your individual role entail?
The Wintec Design Hub was an amazing experience, both academically and personally. I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.
I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.
As a Media Arts student, I helped my team with research and interviews, and understanding audiences when creating personas. There were a lot of creative thinking exercised in the Design Hub, and I think my experience in media arts suited those activities. The Design Hub began with the goal of becoming part of the Global Network in the long run – it just happened a lot sooner than expected. I’m absolutely thrilled the Design Hub has now received an invitation to become New Zealand’s first Design Factory. The staff and students worked so hard and deserve this. Being accepted into the Global Network opens so many doors to the future for Wintec. It has been a truly rewarding experience to be a part of, and I encourage students from across Wintec to enrol.
With just one semester to go until you’re officially qualified, do you feel you’re almost ready to leave the student nest? Does your excitement outweigh your nerves at this point?
I still feel like I have a lot more to learn, even after four years, and I strongly believe in continually expanding my knowledge. I think there’s still one chapter left in my Wintec journey, and I plan to continue this chapter through to Media Arts Honours. I am extremely excited to begin my communications career. I wouldn’t say that I’m nervous. I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.
I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.
What’s been the best or most rewarding aspect of life as a Media Arts student?
I like the hands-on, practical approach. In Media Arts, you get a real experience that prepares you for the professional world. One of the best things about Wintec is knowing we’re fully supported all the way, and that makes anything possible. The most rewarding thing about media arts is that they celebrate everything – no work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.
No work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.
Thinking long-term, where do you see (or want to see) your degree taking you in the industry?
I enjoy getting to know people as much as I enjoy writing, and I enjoy being a part of a team. Ideally, I’d like to work within a project team or in a leadership role within the community. I am also quite interested in not-for-profit organisations and the government. My end goal is to be a part of a change and ideally lead that change. I’m open-minded and anything is possible.
Do you have a piece of advice to offer our prospective BMA Communication students?
Don’t give up – ever. The first stage of the degree can feel like it’s too much, but it’s completely worth it. The reward always outweighs the sacrifice. Keep pressing on, you’re far greater than you ever thought.
Thank you Caitlynn, for sharing your Media Arts journey with us. Find more information about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) here.