Future Talent

Future Talent: Our Career Journeys and Digital Job Advice for Students - Part 2

  • 13 mins read
Graphite
by Graphite

Published on Wednesday 8th April 2020

Digital Career Journeys & Advice for Students - Part 2


This is Part 2 of our Future Talent blog series. If you haven’t already, read Future Talent: Our Career Journeys and Digital Job Advice for Students - Part 1. In this post, more of our team share their best digital career advice and guidance for students and aspiring digital professionals in the hope that we can help students work towards their future career remotely. Below you will hear from two members of our Client Services team (Account Management and Project Management) as well as a member of our Design team.

Client Services

Senior Project Manager - James Leigh

What appealed to you about the digital industry and your job role?

I love the way the rules for this sector aren’t set, that innovation and new thinking are actively encouraged. There is always something new to learn, something new to try and something to get excited about. 

I enjoy problem solving, and project management has a lot of that! Being involved in so many different scenarios with some many different and variable factors means no two days are the same and for me that’s such a great way to have an engaging career experience.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in Project Management?

Get online and start researching different methodologies, start to become familiar with Agile and Waterfall as a starting off point. 

Then try to start learning the lexicon of designers and developers - what’s the difference between front end and back end? What is rapid prototyping? What is a design sprint? Being able to use the correct terms will ensure robust communication with the teams you’ll be working with and will instil them with trust in your commitment and abilities 

How could aspiring Project Managers use their time at home to start preparing? 

Learn what you can online, take remote courses if possible and then try and apply what you’ve learnt to a project (can be anything from renovating a room in your home to planning then taking a holiday). By stress testing your own knowledge you’ll get a feel for where you should focus your next set of learning - and also to check this is something you want to pursue. 

I’d also recommend looking at job descriptions for real PM roles, if you see something that you don’t understand in there then research it and think about how you can learn/practice it in your current role.

Are there any apps, tools or online courses that you would recommend to aspiring learners?

I would recommend looking at any free project management software and playing around with it, Trello would be my top pick.

How did you get your first job in Project Management? 

I had been working at an education charity on a fixed term basis, during which time I had been asking for more and more project planning tasks to broaden my skill set. When the role finished, it happened to coincide with a friend needing some short term cover at a digital agency she worked at which sounded like fun. I did three weeks and loved it so much I changed career paths.

What training did you do for your role? 

Much of what I learned was in other roles but I have since done professional qualifications to help me progress my understanding.

Did you need any specific qualifications? 

No! Enthusiasm will get you going, self directed knowledge will continue that. You should look for agencies and clients that excite you and where you feel there is a good culture fit.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for school, college and uni leavers about to take their next steps?

Get stuck in, the digital sector uses the term ‘fail fast’ - look into it and adopt it as a mantra. Failing is good, failing is how you can learn. Oh and stay hydrated, that’s nothing to do with digital, that’s just good advice generally.

Future talent

Design

Lead Product Designer - Sam Hainsworth

What appealed to you about the digital industry and your job role?

When I was younger, all I wanted to do was design skateboard graphics, then when I was studying Graphic Design I started to make AR projects on skateboards, so the image would move on your phone. 

I felt like ‘digital’ was a cool space to be in as it is a fast moving industry, things are always changing and there is always something new to get excited about.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in Product Design?

I started out doing freelance work for free. It meant I got a lot of work and this could be difficult to manage at times. As I was working for free, I felt like my clients were always demanding more and more from me. However, it gave me so much valuable experience in speaking to clients, managing my own time and my workload. I also had to learn a lot during my client work.

Internships are a great way into the industry and I’d honestly say get as much, varied experience as you can in the beginning and don’t stick to one role. I tried quite a few different roles within the industry (front-end dev, UX designer, animator, photography, UI designer) which allowed me to decide on what I really wanted to do.

I also had a mentor from early on in my career and I found it helpful to have someone to go to for advice.

How could aspiring Product Designers use their time at home to start preparing? 

Try as many roles as possible, in and out of your field and speak to people you admire.

Are there any apps, tools or online courses that you would recommend to aspiring learners?

If you can get access to Slack, there are 100s of great channels full of other great designers that are there to help 24/7.

How did you get your first job in Product Design? 

Internship! I started a 3 month placement while at university, then after that they asked me to stay. I was there 4 years, got to travel the world with them and learnt so much.

What training did you do for your role?  

I went to college and then university, however you don’t always need to have studied design. A lot of my friends within the creative industry didn’t study and still got a job. I think they helped me to understand the presentation side of my job. 

Did you need any specific qualifications? 

No, I got into the industry via an internship and from then on experience and my skill set were the only things that mattered.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for school, college and uni leavers about to take their next steps?

I’m going to sound like a generic slogan generator now:

- Look for opportunities, not a title or money.

- You have to love the company and the culture you work in, don’t just take the first job.

- At the start of your career, try to find out what it is that you love and want to do.

- If they don’t reference Peep Show at least once, they can’t be trusted.

Sam in workshop

Client Services 

Senior Account Manager - Louise Adam 

What appealed to you about the digital industry and your job role?

The thing that appealed the most to me was the pace of the industry, and how quickly technology had come along in the past few decades.

I am a people person, and love interacting with others, understanding what they do and how I can support them. Client Services seemed like a really good place to kickstart my career in digital, as you are often the first point of contact for the client and see the delivery of their project from start to finish - learning about each digital aspect involved as you go along.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in Account Management?

When I first started as an intern at a digital marketing agency I tasked myself with sending out an internal newsletter with the latest digital developments in the industry. It was really simple, and just highlighted ten different news stories with a mini summary for those too busy to read the articles in full. This harnessed me with a wealth of knowledge in the sector (a sector I had previously known very little about) and instantly helped me to have conversations with different departments within the agency.

My advice would be to take half an hour every day to read online digital journals and news articles, and familiarise yourself with digital marketing strategies and emerging trends. This will help massively when it comes to interviews, and give you a head start for any digital role you take on.

How could aspiring Account Managers use their time at home to start preparing? 

Research, research….and more research! It can be daunting trying to work out what you want to do for the rest of your life, and the great thing about digital is that it is so fluid and you can often move from role to role because the skills you acquire are so transferable.

In my opinion, start simple and think about what it is that you enjoy the most about work/education/socialising. What skills are you using in these environments? Can they be transferable to a job? What do you find really interesting? Would you prefer to work with brands that are health and beauty related or focus more on sustainability?

Once you have an idea of your skills and interests, start researching agencies and brands - keep a spreadsheet of them and the reasons why you would want to work with them. Follow them on LinkedIn and social media, regularly like their posts etc.

Are there any apps, tools or online courses that you would recommend to aspiring learners?

YouTube is your best friend - there are so many free digital marketing tutorials, and once you find what you are interested in you can be a bit more granular with your research. I would also recommend reading marketing case studies to understand the key components of any digital marketing campaign; the objective, the key performance indicators, the challenge, the solution and the results.

Some great skill based courses are:

Some good blogs to read include:

How did you get your first job in Account Management? 

I had a family friend who owned an automotive content agency in London and every opportunity I had I asked him questions about his work and what clients/projects they were working on. Through showing a lot of interest, and probably being quite annoying, I got an internship to work with them for a month during my summer holidays before my second year of university.

Fast forward a few years later, I had graduated and was working in digital recruitment in London. An Account Director at the automotive content agency I had worked with asked to take me for a coffee, and then explained that they were expanding and would be looking for an Account Executive in the upcoming months that she felt I would be a great fit for. We kept in touch, and a few months later I interviewed and got the job.

What training did you do for your role?  

I didn’t do any official training until I started my first job in digital marketing, where I did a lot of onsite training with heads of departments within the agency. Alongside this, I did some Google Ads and Google Analytics training online, and a mini MBA in marketing with Marketing Week.

Did you need any specific qualifications? 

No specific qualifications - they were more interested in me as a person and whether I was a fast learner, was motivated, and if I would be a good fit for the culture of the agency.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for school, college and uni leavers about to take their next steps?

Don’t be scared to try. Speak to as many people as you can within the industry - hassle your friends and family to introduce you to people they know that could help (you’ll be surprised by how many people this will be)! Immerse yourself within the industry; read as much as you can, watch free online tutorials, and go to every digital event you can! 

If you have any questions or would like any further advice from any of our team members, please feel free to reach out via our contact form below and we’ll make sure that it gets to the right person. Read Part 3 here.

Get in touch