There are many opportunities in digital media right now and most companies are crying out for people with digital skills and experience. Demand is certainly outstripping supply in certain sectors of the market. It’s fast paced and a continually evolving environment. Not a bad thing for people looking for a career in digital media as it’s an amazing and exciting industry but you also have to be prepared for what you are taking on.
Let’s take a step back to the mid-90’s when the internet first became commercially viable. Most people didn’t have experience in this space then and there was limited formal education. In the mid-90’s most people learnt on the job. So where did they come from then?
Marketers came from traditional media, FMCG and big brands. They came from analyst and research backgrounds. They came from librarian or editorial/journalist backgrounds. They also came from commercial management, management consultancies or business development.
These days and with the maturity of the industry there are more defined career paths to follow and educational courses to choose from. There is constant change in digital media as new technologies create different communication channels and social networking has transformed the way we communicate with each other. With this continual change, it’s hard to know what path to take sometimes particularly when you are starting off.
The big question is – should you get a formal education before you enter the market place? OR whilst you are working in digital media? OR how the devil do you transfer your traditional media skills over to digital? OR do you just learn on the job?
To answer all of the above apart from the later, most employers look favourably upon structured learning. Couple this with learning in a particular discipline, which is of interest, will certainly go a great way in assisting with your career and landing you the job.
You should be aware that the industry is reasonably young and often non-structured compared to the traditional, steady and more even pace of the corporate world. Most employers in digital media don’t have the luxury of big HR teams that help manage your career path. Bearing this in mind, you will be far more employable to them if you have taken the time out to study. Knowledge and practical skills allow you to contribute faster with an ability to ‘hit the ground running’.
It’s hard to say which courses/degrees you should be contemplating as they vary greatly depending on which path you wish your career to follow. Universities, TAFEs, Colleges and Industry Associations are the places you should look at. You can certainly study whilst you are on the job if you want to increase your skills and if you are wishing to transfer from traditional to digital there are a number of educational programs that will help.
There are short courses/seminars that introduce you to digital media. Check out the likes of AIMIA, ADMA and SlatteryIT. Due to the shortage of skills and demand in the industry, Digital Cadet have put together a great 3/4 week intense hands-on induction course, which they have recently launched. Heather Albrecht, Patty Keegan and Jo Gaines are some of the course tutors and are exceptionally well respected in our industry. Various Uni’s and Business Schools have some great courses both long-term and short.
There’s a great book about to be launched called Career FAQs Digital Media (www.careerfaqs.com.au). It will be available from bookstores and from their website. The book was actually created because of the difficulties in finding empowering, high-quality and up-to-date career information to help make informed career decisions. The book has interviews with industry insiders who tell you how they got to where they are, as well as all the practical information you’ll need to land a job.
My advice is to subscribe to some of the newsletters in our industry, they’re free and they often will outline what’s going on re education courses/seminars. Also get networking. The FED (www.fed.net.au) and Domain nights (www.the-domain.org) are a great source of education and they are free. A key industry figure is interviewed ‘on the couch’ so you have the beauty of knowledge sharing as well as networking with like minded people.
LaVolta also run ‘How did they get to where they are today’ series. The idea behind the series is really one of inspiration and the key people that we have interviewed share their personal insights into their career journey. It’s a webcast, which you can view from LaVolta, AIMIA or Digital Ministry websites as well as downloading as a podcast from itunes. You just need to search for Lavolta.
As well as further education, employees that get ahead in our industry have a real passion for digital media and definitely a flexibility to deal with all the new technologies and trends. Other key traits are attention to detail, being tenacious, resourceful and motivated. Last but not least, being a true team player and sharing knowledge, never goes amiss and will continually assist you in your career path.
LaVolta Consulting – executive recruitment for digital media
This article originally appeared in Magazine October 2007