University careers services are not currently well equipped to provide advice on jobs in digital. In fact, given the lack of internal digital knowledge in most institutions and scarcity of up-to-date courses, meaningful advice from any quarter is thin on the ground.
Even graduates from relevant degrees such as marketing, advertising or media are largely unaware of the vast array of opportunities available.
So when we ran our inaugural Graduate Bootcamp earlier this summer, we weren’t sure what to expect from a group primarily made up of candidates from non-vocational academic backgrounds with little or no digital knowledge. Armed with 20 bright young things from degrees as varied as law, economics, biology, sociology and, of course, marketing, we embarked on a week of intensive and challenging activities (read Charles Oben's Graduate Diary to find out what they got up to) designed to give real insight into the world of digital work and broaden horizons beyond fluffy career aspirations involving social media and copywriting.
We needn’t have worried – our candidates aced it. The group was attentive, committed, excited, and inspirational. They whipped up some astounding projects, coming together in rapidly formed groups to deliver thorough research and presentations that wouldn’t have been out of place at an agency pitch.
They took everything they could from the experience, some radically changing their idea of a digital career (search, mobile and analytics all being previously unexplored areas which became hot topics) and all leaving the experience significantly more confident in their knowledge of the industry and ability to decide on a suitable career path.
Econsultancy’s Graduate Bootcamp has already resulted in successful placements for more than half of the candidates. And it’s highlighted the wealth of latent talent in graduates from a wide range of disciplines which lies waiting to be discovered.
So what can business learn from our experience?
- The skills that made our candidates outstanding were not the skills from the week. They were the skills they brought with them initially, applied in the context of new knowledge. Teamwork, tenacity, creativity, autonomy and intelligence are what you should be hiring for. The rest you can teach.
- These were not necessarily passionate digital wannabes. They were interested in the increased opportunity to find work. But the bootcamp was an incentive for them to consider digital more fully and they left the experience with incredible enthusiasm for the sector not only because they knew more, but because someone had bothered to teach them.
- The skills the industry values are available in bucket loads amongst the class of 2012, but it’s not enough to expect them to find their way to you. If organisations are looking for the best and brightest emerging talent they need to invest in raising awareness of the industry to students at all levels, and creatively facilitate entry into work through training, internships and recruiting with an eye on potential.
There is plenty of raw digital talent available amongst graduates. Someone just needs to tell them.
We still have a number of candidates available for work – check out their video CVs. If you’re keen on attending the Bootcamp or you’d like to find out more about how it can help you train new starters or recruit, get in touch.