Five Skills for a Career in Digital Media

by Csenge Sziklai, Design Enterprise Studio Member, Nov 2020

Before I started my academic journey studying Digital Media at UWE Bristol I would honestly say that my skills in digital media were pretty much non-existent (I didn’t even know Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V was a shortcut to copy and paste!) but now I find myself in my final year, soon to graduate, feeling prepared with the skills and knowledge to enter the professional world of digital media and apply all the things I have learned in my three years of study.

When I was putting together my application to go to university, I was thinking about what I wanted to get out of it. Of course I wanted to come to university to grow personally and make new friends but I also wanted to study to learn the skills that companies in the “real world” required. In this blog I will share my top 5 skills for getting a career in Digital Media.

Alison Doyle (2019) said “There’s really never been a better time for creative artists with solid digital media skills to find employment”. This is supported by data gathered from students that were surveyed 6 months after studying our course: “85% of Digital Media students go onto work and / or study” (Discoveruni, 2020), this is evident in the UK where “in 2018 the creative industries grew jobs by 1.6 per cent, compared to the UK-wide employment increase of 0.8 per cent. Between 2011 and 2018, creative industries employment has mushroomed by 30.6 per cent, compared to the UK average growth of 10.1 per cent during that period” (Creative Industries, 2018).

The world is full of digital media products and they are all around us, from the apps on our smartphones to the systems inside modern cars. The centre for Digital Media (Centre for Digital Media, 2020) says, “building digital media products requires teams of professionals with diverse skills, including technical skills, artistic skills, analytical and production coordination skills. All of these skills need to be balanced on a team, with all team members focused on creating the best user experience”. Digital Media students are well placed as the course “offers the chance to experience working with cutting edge technologies to create engaging digital experiences in a range of environments” (UWE Bristol, 2020). I wanted to share my top 5 skills for a career in Digital Media.

Top 5 Skills

1. Communication

One of the most important skills for Digital Media professionals is communication. In digital media careers you will almost always find yourself working with others, whether it be in teams or with clients. Being a strong communicator will be crucial to your success and making sure you can create shared understandings with those you work with.

As I’m from Hungary, English is my second language, and so it was difficult for me to become a strong communicator at first. I lacked confidence and was afraid that I would say something important incorrectly, however coming to university was incredibly helpful. All the presentations and group work helped me develop. Whilst I was doing my summer internship I realized that as a UX Designer I needed to make sure that everyone understood my research methods and terminology as not all my stakeholders were familiar with UX techniques such as personas and user journey mapping. My tip to overcome this problem is to assume that the person may not be familiar with the processes, so be ready to describe your method in a simplified way and be open for questions.

2. “Soft” Skills

Despite the name, “soft” skills are really important. Things that are meant by soft skills would be teamwork, time management, problem solving, prioritisation and decision making. You could be highly skilled in technical or design techniques but if you cannot back this up with soft skills (for example managing your time in a project to meet a deadline) all of your hard work could be for nothing.

During my studies I was able to develop my time management skills by creating to-do lists for each project and prioritise what has had to be done prior to the deadlines. There are plenty of apps and websites now that are really useful when you have to meet your goals on time, some of my favourites are: Asana, Monday, Jira or simply pen and paper.

3. Technical Skills

Apart from communication and soft skills it is also really important to have technical knowledge and skills. This would be where you are proficient in software and technologies to enable you to solve problems in a more efficient way. For example, as a digital media professional you need to make mock-ups for an application and having skills in software like Figma will place you well to solve this problem and deliver successful outcomes.

My technical knowledge also helped me recently to receive my first experience of working in the industry, as the company was willing to hire a UX Designer who has understanding on React and HTML/CSS to be able to design and communicate better with the development team.

4. Content Creation

Skills in content creation are really important in a digital world, many companies communicate with their customers via social media channels and need to have engaging content to stand out from the crowd. This can include audio-visual production e.g. videos that could be used for a company’s YouTube channel etc. As a digital media professional with these skills you will be well placed for many roles in the digital sector.

When I was working at a restaurant I had the opportunity to create engaging content for the customers. When it comes to content creation I would suggest to listen to your audience and engage with them via comments, tags and promotions.

5. Design

The final skill is design. This can include web, graphic and user experience design. Modern digital media professionals will be highly skilled in this area and often take on specialist roles, or hold positions in the working world to make sure that any projects being developed are delivered with great design.

As a Junior UX Designer, I can definitely say that when it comes to design, always listen to your target audience and put their needs first as you can design something really engaging and visually pleasing, but if no one apart from you knows how to use it then is it really a great design?

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog entry. I hope you enjoyed reading my point of view of this topic or perhaps have learned something from my examples/experiences? Please comment below what are your thoughts when it comes to Digital Media skills – which are the most important for you?

References

Centre for Digital Media (2020) ​What Is Digital Media?​. Available from: https://thecdm.ca/program/digital-media [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Creative Industries (2018) ​UK Creative Employment​. Available from: https://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/uk-creative-overview/facts-and-figures/employment-figures [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Discoveruni (2020) ​BSc (Hons) Digital Media Course Details​. Available from: https://discoveruni.gov.uk/course-details/10007164/G451/FullTime/ [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Doyle, A. (2019) Important Digitial Media Skills That Employers Value. ​The Balance Careers.​ [online]. Available from: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/digital-media-skills-2062387 [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Patton (2020) ​Read This First – Jeff Patton & Associates​. Available from: https://www.jpattonassociates.com/read-this-first/ [Accessed 1 November 2020].

UWE Bristol (2020) ​Digital Media – BSc(Hons) – UWE Bristol: Courses​. Available from: https://courses.uwe.ac.uk/G451/digital-media [Accessed 1 November 2020].

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