Tips for Graduates

With Manchester Digital’s Talent Day fast approaching, we’ve been giving some thought to that oh-so pivotal moment: graduation.

As a recent graduate myself, I can identify with how daunting it can all feel, so this post is dedicated to the students!

I’ve asked some of my colleagues here at Code to share the advice they wish they could go back and give their student selves…

Tim Peel, Development Manager

Create a name for yourself and know the market you want to work in. You’ll leave university with very few examples of commercial work you’ve been involved with, so you need to create a portfolio and find something to talk about… quick!

Target agencies, look at the work they are doing and play around with similar ideas that you can talk about in an interview. Interviewers love candidates who show an active interest and have actually ‘done’ something; talking about what you can do and reeling off the usual post-university spiel’s nothing new to them.

Look for industry events relating to the field you want to work in and attend some of the meetings –active involvement and knowing what is out there is key.

Chris Heg, Planning Director

My advice to myself as a graduate would have been: try to experience, or at least understand, as many roles, work types and markets as you can. If you find yourself stuck in a role with a really narrow job description, get the work they pay you for done, and then spend as much time talking to people in other roles as you can. Yes, it raises your profile and all that fluff, but really it’s about finding out what you like, where your strengths are, what you’re interested in, and getting others’ points of view.

And don’t be afraid to speak out. You’ll be surrounded by people you think are older, smarter and more judgemental. Don’t walk in thinking and acting you know it all, but do remember that your opinion and ideas still count if you believe in them.

Rob Jones, Client Services Director

Get the best result in the most relevant degree, and complete a placement where you are able to put the learning to use.

In interviews make sure that your passion for what you do comes through. Prepare well and form an opinion on the work that the agency/company is doing; it’s better to have one that’s not quite right that none at all.

Most importantly, make yourself likeable — people want to work with individuals they are going to enjoy spending time with.

Emma Maddocks, Senior Project Manager

Too much ego will kill your talent…

It might seem like a hard slog at the beginning, the hours might seem long and sometimes a little unrewarding, but one day you’ll have a light bulb moment and realise what it was all for. You only get out of something whatever you put in. Think about what makes you happy, whether it’s actual job satisfaction or even just the things surrounding your work life that enable you to do your job better; going to the gym, getting enough sleep, taking a lunch hour, seeing your friends.

Work hard, be nice to people and follow your gut. 🙂

Stefan Shaw, Creative Director

Be prepared to slog your guts out in the first few years at work. Listen to advice from more experienced colleagues and build up your commercial experience and portfolio.

Be a team player too — digital is one of the most collaborative creative processes out there. Understand that other people will enrich your idea and make it better. Embrace this and you’ll produce some great work.

Oh, and listen to your creative director, he or she will (almost) always, know best 😉

And finally, here’s the advice I would have given myself this time last year:

Concentrate on getting experience and discovering what it is you love doing. Don’t worry about not knowing what that is yet — just make sure you’re grabbing every opportunity in the meantime.

Manchester Digital’s Talent Day takes place on Wednesday 20th February at Manchester Town Hall. It’s a great opportunity to meet 80 of the North West’s leading digital and creative business, so put down your assignments for an hour or two and get networking!

Code Computerlove will be there again this year, so don’t forget to come say ‘hello’.