By Sarah Davenport, on 12 November 2013
A blog post by Kate Kozhevnikova (MA in Electronic Communication and Publishing, 2012-13).
This is just a beginning – that’s what most Master’s students realize when they recover from a long-time celebration after submitting dissertations in September. Every single bit of energy, dedication, courage, intelligence has been put into completing the course and now what is next? Another round of hard work, apparently!
Most of us recent graduates initially decided to go for a year of intense study hoping that a Master’s degree would help us in finding our dream job. In addition, for many DH, ECP and IS students these programmes were a way to find a digital passion, to get a ticket into the trendy world of digital media with hipster web designers and geeky developers and then try to fit into their space.
As we all aware, finding jobs is a long and complicated process, especially considering the current job market condition. Therefore, I want to share some wisdom and advice from my classmates and myself, all of whom work in London. Let me introduce them first: Kate Fitzpatrick, Global Category Manager at Pearson; Alana Coates, Insight Analyst, focusing on UX research at Wilson Fletcher, me aka Kate Kozhevnikova, SEO and Content Executive at momondo, working mostly on the Russian site and Yvonne Spiliopoulou, volunteering as a Web Team Editorial Assistant at British Museum.
You have probably heard most of what we are about to say before but it is worth reading because we walked 10 miles in your shoes, went through the same experience you are about to have, and it never hurts to remember some simple things.
Choose the right modules. The list might look overwhelming and you have probably already chosen all the modules that looked appealing to you, but it is very important to ask your tutor or advisors within the department which ones would fill your knowledge and skills gaps. Also, have a look at the modules outside the department that are available to DIS students. For instance, Kate Fitzpatrick recommends the Interactive Design module if you are interested in getting an overview on UX, usability and accessibility research.
Pay extra attention at technical/ programming classes. To keep on top of the job market and be one step ahead of other candidates, don’t underestimate technical and programming classes, even if you are not too keen on becoming a pro coder in the future. An ability to communicate with a wide range of people within the company is what the majority of employers are looking for.
Communicate. If you are not sure what your main interests are yet, there are opportunities to ask for advice from tutors, guest lecturers, speakers at departmental events or your more experienced classmates.
Start networking now. There is no harm in introducing yourself through Twitter or email, most of which would probably be ignored but if the email is good and straightforward there is a better chance that it will catch someone’s attention. As for Alana, she asked the people she knows to recommend the good digital agencies in London. After she emailed one from the list, she got a response with an internship offer. She says that internship was a good way to see if UX research is something she is truly passionate about since she did not have any previous experience in the field.
Never underestimate the power of research. I am talking about keeping an eye on what is going on in the job market: signing up for relevant newsletters; registering on useful websites; identifying relevant recruiting agencies with ties in the industry etc. As postgraduate students your main skill is research, so utilize it as much as possible.
Work on your digital identity. We are talking about here are Twitter and Linkedin in particular. For a professional working in a digital environment, Twitter is one of the main tools for self-presentation, self-promotion and efficient professional communication. It is good for keeping an eye on specific organisations you might interested in working with, as most will often use Twitter as job advertising platform. Linkedin is well-known for professional networking, but it also might be useful for entering professional online communities, joining groups and following companies that were suggested by tutors.
Participate in projects and extracurricular activities. Try not to miss the opportunity to participate in the life of the department outside of class hours. There are plenty of interesting projects going on and if you are keeping up with emails and attend seminars, the chances for you to partake in them are much higher.
Be flexible. Unfortunately not every programme within the department offers placement support as a part of the tuition, furthermore, even if you got one through your course it might not be the one you really wanted. In this case, if any experience comes along it will be priceless. The digital industry is all about practical skills and knowledge, and every little time spent with people who work in it will help you to deepen your knowledge and increase your chances to land in the one you want.
Overall, good luck to you all, this is going to be one of the most challenging but also exciting years of your life if you take full advantage of what courses have to offer.
You can find some of us on Twitter and let’s start that communication I was talking about.
@ek_kozh @alanacoates @yvonnespil