Published on August 21st, 2012 | by Amy Edwards1
A digital career? What’s that then?
By Amy @BubbleJobs
Here at Bubble we’re working our backsides off to get the message out there that the digital industry is full of amazing career opportunities, not just for development geeks (no offence!), but for great writers, mathematicians and young entrepreneurs too.
Now, if you didn’t already know, we’ve been searching for a new social media manager to join the Bubble HQ. We’ve gone through the CVs, had preliminary chats with certain candidates and even spent a few days doing first round interviews last week. It was during the interview process that a recurring theme appeared and one thing struck us; our candidates had never really contemplated a career in the ‘digital’ industry until this opportunity appeared.
OK, that’s not a problem – the digital industry is fairly new so it makes sense that not every fresh graduate is going to be aware of the great career opportunities which may await them in the digital space but it is worrying to think that out of everyone we interviewed, only a few had previously seriously considered a digital career as a viable option.
Now, you might think that was just a reflection of the limited candidates we interviewed but it got me thinking about my own university days (they weren’t that long ago I’ll have you know!). As a Broadcast Journalism student, I was constantly rushing about hauling a camera around that weighed as much as a baby elephant and incessantly bugging other students to give me their views on the latest pressing headline. I’d never really thought about a career in the digital sector until we got a new lecturer in our third year who championed all things online.
Needless to say trying to convince a bunch of TV and radio loving students to consider a career in online was far from an easy task and this particular lecturer was constantly ridiculed for his efforts – “no one cared about online” was even a line in a song produced by one of my course mates! Amazingly his message must have got through to a few of us because I’m sitting here writing this today and one of my best friends from uni is also in an amazing online job. But what happens when there isn’t a dedicated lecturer who is willing to try, try and try again to convince students that there is a digital alternative to their intended career path? Will careers teams step in?
Now, this is a tricky subject! Without wanting to upset anyone, I wasn’t even aware that my uni had a careers team – I’d never met them, never been shown their website and never even considered them as possibility during my 3 years there! Now, I’m not saying this was bad marketing on my university’s part – to be fair to them I could have been too busy fighting off a hangover or hauling that my camera around in the wind and rain to take any notice – but I am saying, if I didn’t know, did anyone else?
OK, let’s pretend for a second that the majority of students are more savvy than myself and know all about their uni’s career team and how they can help. They go and visit them to review their options post-uni – do the careers team suggest a job in the fast-paced, exciting digital industry? Ermm… umm… possibly? If we’re being realistic, probably not! OK – before I get in trouble, I’m just going to point out that the next paragraph is going to be a generalisation of uni careers teams – I’m sure there are some out there that love all things digital and are constantly pushing their students in Bubble’s direction. Covered my own back? OK, deep breath…
In my experience careers teams at universities need to get up to speed with the current jobs market. OK, so there’s always going to be jobs in things like accountancy, forensic science and higher education, that’s a given but what about the industries that are dying out? Are careers teams still pointing Broadcast Journalism students to their nearest radio station or are they sitting them down and telling them local radio is dying out fast (along with newspapers) and it might be worth considering a career on online journalism? I’m not sure but one thing’s for certain, they should be!
As unfair as it might be in this current climate, universities are judged on the percentage of their students that find full-time employment post-graduation. It doesn’t matter that the economy is falling apart at the seams, that’s what they’re judged on and what they’ll probably always be judged on – it makes sense then that universities should do everything they can to help their graduates find the best possible job in the best industries and it all starts with the careers teams.
So, what should careers teams be doing then? They should be seriously looking at the jobs market and trying to suggest a few alternative career options in addition to their standard response. But what if the student doesn’t want a career in the digital sector? Well, OK that’s a very real possibility but at least that student will have the option of a digital career rather than not having it all, right?
If we’re being fair, we can’t point the finger of blame at universities and universities alone – instead we need to look at the market as a whole. There might be shed-loads of specialist jobs boards out there but how much information is there about digital careers for careers teams to utilise? Actually, not that much! Yep, there’s lots of information out there regarding the popularity of digital jobs but when it comes to starting a career in the online sector, the cupboard is pretty bare. Ah, so therein lies the problem! If careers teams don’t have anything to reference, how can they champion the digital sector to students?
What we really need is a digital jobs board that’s willing to lead the way when it comes to shining a spotlight on the digital industry for graduates and current students and work hand in hand with careers teams to ensure the message is getting through. Hmmm… I wonder…!
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