I was recently honoured to be asked to return to my former university – The University of Huddersfield – to speak to current students as part of Huddersfield DigiFest 2014. As Patrick Stewart is the chancellor of the university I tell anyone who will listen – which isn't many – that I am a proud graduate of Professor Xaviers School for Gifted Youngsters.
Whilst it was nice to see how my alma mater has changed over the years since I graduated, catch up with some former lecturers and for once be encouraged to talk in a lecturer theatre rather than being kicked out for doing so, my visit had a purpose. I was asked to discuss why current students should consider digital as a career. Aside from spending all day on Buzzfeed and calling it research, it really is a great career choice.
Variety is the spice of life
I can't speak for everyone, but one of the great things about working in our industry is that every day is different, it's fast paced and it can literally change overnight. What works in digital today may not work – or worse, actually be damaging – tomorrow. This means that you have to stay on your toes and never stop learning.
I loved student life, no doubt about it. However, sadly, those days do come to an end and the reality of needing a job starts to hit. It's no secret that finding a graduate job is tough. In 2013 there were on average 85 applications for every graduate job. But as the digital sector is growing so fast, it also means there are more jobs created in the sector. Following my session at Huddersfield, Andrew Stainton, Placements Officer at Huddersfield Business School, said that of the marketing placements currently being advertised every single one had a digital element to them.
This trend is going to continue. It's hardly earth shattering to point out that the internet is not going anywhere and its humble bloggers firmly believe that the lines between what is traditional marketing and what is digital are becoming blurred.
By looking at digital, graduates are widening their job pool, and also gaining valuable experience for their future careers. It was interesting to note that the current students had a much stronger grasp of SEO than I had whilst studying, which is a credit to the staff at Huddersfield who have obviously spotted it's a growth area for graduate employment.
We're a creative bunch here at Search Laboratory. However, were not just creative for the sake of being creative. We do the research first to know that our ideas are going to work. This means one of the key things we look for in recruits within the SEO team is to be able to demonstrate both creativity and analytical thinking.
Whilst many job descriptions across industries offer such things, how many actually deliver? Because of this, it really does open a lot of doors for different types of people and experiences. The team at Search Labs includes former journalists, recent graduates, a former professional golfer, videographers, ex-teachers and just about everybody in between.
Dont just take my word for it...
I asked some of my brilliant colleagues to sum up in one sentence why they enjoy working in digital:
Charlotte Shearman, Content and Online PR Executive: "The best thing about working in digital marketing is feeling like you are part of an exciting industry which is only going to get bigger and more integral to the way in which people communicate, process information and tell stories."
Jonathan Dempster, SEO Account Manager: "I like how we work with a huge range of firms in different industries every day, understanding how they operate in the market."
Louise Fletcher, Content and Online PR Executive: "I love the fact I am given the chance to be creative within my role. Both in terms of problem solving but also creating content for my clients."
Sean McMahon, Content and Online PR Executive: "Its great creating mutually beneficial relationships with journalists and bloggers in which you can both provide each other with interesting info and content for current and future projects."
James Bentham, SEO Account Manager: "I like the dynamic nature of digital and the opportunity to implement effective strategies for companies ranging in size from SMEs to multinationals."
Tess Brumwell-Gaze, Content and Online PR Executive: "Its such a fast-paced industry that no one day is the same!"
Ryan Jones, PPC Manager: "I enjoy the variety that comes from working on a broad range of clients in a constantly changing industry, and the fact that PPC frequently combines elements from both sides of my maths and programming degree."