Back in 2013, The Guardian published an article Logging onto your digital career – what are the options?,and although this article looks at some of the digital workplace options, it only scratches the surface. It’s also the top ranked article on Google for this search, which is scary. In fact, what I found is that Google’s top results for this search bring up quite outdated, and broad ideas. I hope after reading this you will have a better idea on what are digital careers.
In this article I want to:
- breakdown digital job roles best suited for humanities students
- help you understand how you can climb up the career ladder in each role
- give you an overview of daily activities for each role
- a recommended reading list for each job role so you can dig in further
A digital media job truly fit for a humanities student
Before going into digital media you need to have an idea of what you want to do, and this isn’t like picking your A-Levels or BA – you can switch it up, and over time you will pick up new skills, and hopefully cover most roles. Companies value cross-functional employees; the more you know the more value you can bring. A content writer that understands paid marketing, and UX is a great asset in any digital company.
Let me breakdown roles that you can apply for fresh from university. Bear in mind, this is not an exhaustive list.
Content Production is probably the most obvious way for you to enter the digital workspace. It’s closely related to your studies, and your skills can easily be applied to content production and similar roles. It’s also how I started out.
Junior Content Writer/Marketer
As a Junior Content Writer or Marketer, you would be joining the Content Marketing Team, and contributing by writing articles for customers. These can range anywhere from writing educational posts (how to’s for product), to interviewing influencers in your industry. The best part about starting out as a Junior Content Writer is that you can familiarise yourself with the industry, with a CMS (Content Management System), and work in a team of like-minded creatives.
N.B. Very often this position is also called a technical writer/ or less often junior creative
Here is an example of typical activities for a Junior Content Writer:
- Craft captivating web content
- Help define the overall content strategy
- Turning difficult and complex information into easy to understand written communications
- Writing articles that inspire, motivate and drive action
- Dealing with stakeholders professionally and confidently
- React to ongoing content requirements and create, update, optimise as necessary
- Contributing to the communications calendar by generating ideas and new angles
- Conveying key messages in a clear and engaging way
- Help build a global brand, generate introductions of new quality clients and therefore increase sales
- Support the Marketing and Communications function with ad-hoc requests
Social Media Coordinator
A Social Media Coordinator is a job that I have personally never done, although I later wrote promotion and distribution strategies. However, having a Social Media Coordinator in a Marketing team is crucial to the success of the overall marketing efforts.
Being a Social Media Coordinator is perfect for you if you have knowledge in social media. Have you spent most of the summer posting holiday photos on Instagram? This is a great starting position as you learn how social media can impact a business, how to attract new customers, engage current customers, and how to plan and execute a marketing strategy successfully.
Here is an example of typical activities for a Social Media Coordinator:
- Help managing, scheduling and maintaining the social media accounts
- Creating content for our social media platforms
- Contacting members and partners who will be featured on the website
- Developing relationships with a range of clients and partners
- Have good understanding of major social media platforms Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Have an excellent standard of written and spoken English it is really important that your written work is bullet-proof
- Preparing client presentations, developing joint marketing and PR campaigns with major clients
Disclaimer: A lot of the time companies will advertise for a copywriter, and in fact mean content writer. So, what’s the difference?
A copywriter aims to “convert a lead” – that means they want to write copy that will directly help sell a product, or get customers signed up for a course/book. A great example of the difference between copywriting and content marketing is a white paper, and the landing page that you download it from. The content you read in a white paper is content marketing aiming to educate, the landing page you come to that encourages you to sign up and download the content is copywriting.
You need to know how to write both high converting copy, and great content. I want to encourage you learn more from Joel Klettke, who runs Business Casual Copywriting. I got a lot of ideas from him for my talk “A Designer’s Guide On How To Create High Converting Copy”. You can watch that here.
Here is an example of typical activities for a Junior Copywriter:
- Understanding the message the client is seeking to deliver and translating this into attractive copy
- Writing perfect, pleasing copy that will engage the reader
- Receiving feedback and using it to grow and improve as a copywriter
- Understanding client specifications to craft copy that is on brand
- Working with an art director to devise creative strategies
- Keeping copy consistent and identifiable for each client
- Producing creative ideas for innovative campaigns
If you like this field of digital, where your primary focus is on writing, and educating a target audience, you can aim to progress to roles like Product Marketing Specialist/Team Lead, and Editor/Chief Editor.
If you have aspirations to head up a team at a digital company, you can always set your sights on Head of Marketing.
Recommended reading for Content Production:
After spending a few years working in editorial primarily, I started working at my current firm as a Business Development Manager. Business Development (BD) is often mixed up with sales, and seen as a supporting role. However, without BD, sales wouldn’t be able to target new prospects as efficiently. If throughout university research was your strong point – then BD might be for you.
BD varies from firm to firm, and it is mostly focused on market research, and outbound sales. That means you need to also be good at communication, and be confident to speak to prospects either over the phone, or email.
Good business development will always have in mind the best interest of all parties involved, and will work constantly to create win-win situations to sustain long-term gains. Business developers must convey the right message and reflect the right image to be perceived positively by their audience.
I was very lucky when I started in BD, as I was the first hire in that department, and had the opportunity to pioneer the process. What I found helped me were my research skills – it’s the details that make a big difference. The best part of BD is understanding your prospects – creating an ICP (Ideal Client Profile). Rather than pushing your product onto everyone, you target individuals that need your product. You do all of that by researching markets (sometimes you get to work globally), talking to clients, and working closely with your sales team.
One thing that is important to remember when it comes to BD is that it involves long, often quite repetitive tasks that give you better results, which means you need to be persistent to become a good BD Manager. Here are some articles I wrote directly related to BD when I started working:
The part I enjoy most about BD is the fluidity of the role. On the one hand, you are part of a very dynamic sales team, on the other you can dig deep into research. The role of BD is ever changing – you might be cold calling or emailing, or you might be discovering a new target industry as part of a sales strategy.
Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships. – Pollack (Forbes, 2012)
If you choose to pursue a career in BD, you can expect to start as a BD Specialist, progress to a Manager, Head of BD – and go as high as a Commercial Director.
Here is an example of typical activities for a BD specialist:
- Researching organisations and individuals online (especially on social media) to identify new leads and potential new markets
- Researching the needs of other companies and learning who makes decisions about purchasing
- Contacting potential clients via email or phone to establish rapport and set up meetings
- Planning and overseeing new marketing initiatives
- Attending conferences, meetings, and industry events
This article might also help you better understand what a day in the life of a Business Development Manager looks like.
Recommended reading for Business Development
User Experience (UX)
I came across User Experience for the first time when working as an Editor at ManageWP. I realised that a lot of the content wasn’t as useful as it could be to our users, and I didn’t want articles being published just to fill a quota. I started working with our UX Architect on designing a better experience for our users; trying to understand what they wanted to read, and more importantly what they needed from our product. We conducted over 100 interviews with users of all profiles, sent a global survey, and spoke with all of our internal Customer Happiness Agents to find out what our users were frustrated with. The results shaped the product pipeline for the next quarter, and changed how I ran my editorial calendar.
I also had the opportunity to work with an independent UX and UI Designer for a conference, where we conducted an in-depth UX study on our target audience to find the best possible speakers for that year. What I learnt is that UX is essential everywhere, and it’s not a traditional design role. It’s a role that requires a lot of user interest, communication skills, and applying user knowledge to product or services.
User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. – Nielsen Norman Group
Here is an example of typical activities for a UX Designer:
- Considering existing applications and evaluating their UX (user experience) effectiveness
- Considering the human-computer interaction (HCI) element of a design
- Using online tools, such as screen readers, to aid their research
- Running user testing of applications, software and websites
- Defining interaction models, user task flows, and UI (user interface) specifications
- Communicating scenarios (hypothetical users), end-to-end experiences, interaction models, and screen designs to other people working on a product
- Working with creative directors and visual designers to incorporate a visual or brand identity into the finished product
- Developing and maintaining design wireframes (basic mock-ups of applications) and specifications
To become a UX Designer, you do need some training prior to applying to your first job – and you will need to build an online profile to showcase examples of your work. Entering the digital workspace as a UX Designer has probably the biggest learning curve for classically trained humanities students.
User Experience Courses
Course list from Guy Ligertwood, UX and VUI Designer.
I would start with this course: uxtraining.com. Foundation in UX (Study: 12 hours at your own pace).
The courses below vary from beginner to more advanced.
- Bloc . Intensive UX training with a mentor (Study: 1. 5 years at 15 hours per week)
- Career Foundry.Become a certified UX Designer (Study: 10 months at 15 hours per week)
- Coursera. Introduction to UX Design (Study: 5 weeks at 2 hour per week)
- Design Lab.Join their UX Academy and learn with a mentor (Study: 26 weeks at 20 hours per week)
- General Assembly .UX Design Circuit with a mentor (Study: 6 weeks at 10 hours per week)
- Go Highbrow.Learn the fundamentals of UX (Study: 10 days at 5 mins per day)
- Gymnasium.UX fundamentals (Study: timeline not shown)
- Hack Design.Learn UX and UI Design with a lesson emailed to you each week (Study: 50 weeks at 1-2 hours per week)
- Interaction Design Foundation .A range of great online courses for UX design. (Study: Between 5–10 weeks at 3–7 hour per week).
- Lynda.Become a UX Designer (Study: 10 hours in your own time)
- Lynda.Advance your UX Design skills (Study: 10 hours in your own time)
- Open to Study User Experience for the web (Study: 4 weeks at 2–4 hours per week)
- Skillshare. Intro to UX. Fundamentals of usability (Study 1.5 hours)
- Springboard.Learn UX Design (Study: roughly 3 months at 12 hours per week)
- The Leftbank. Information Architecture and UX (Study: 10 weeks access with a total of 80 hours study)
- Treehouse. UX basics (Study: 2 hours)
- Udacity. Product Design video course by Google (Study: the average time taken is 2 months)
- Udacity. Intro to the design of everyday things with Dion Norman (Study: the average time taken is 2 weeks while)
- Udemy.UX Design fundamentals (Study: 12 hours at your own pace)
- UdemyUX & Web Design Master Course: Strategy, Design, Development (Study 24 hours at your own pace)
Before you decide you would like a career in digital, have a look at some of the options above. As a humanities student you have a great baseline for all of the jobs I talked about, and with some effort you can easily catch up on the specific skills for your chosen role.