My name is Paddy and I’m the latest Inspiring Digital Leaders Intern to grace the After Digital offices. Originally from Northern Ireland, I decided to make the perilous journey across the Irish Sea three years ago after finishing my undergraduate studies at Ulster University, where I studied Interactive Media Arts. Armed with only a Stena Line ticket and a dream (of clearing my massive student debts), I was off to Glasgow to start a new chapter.

Since arriving in Scotland I’ve worn a few career hats. I’ve been a freelance video producer/editor, a photographer, a web designer and an all-round digital marketer supporting small businesses with their marketing output. During these years, I also enrolled onto the MSc Digital Marketing course at the University of the West of Scotland; having handed in my dissertation in May I was keen to get some experience in an agency setting, so the IDL programme really hit my eyeballs at the exact right time!

The Inspiring Digital Leaders programme is brand new this year, where did you hear about it and what made you want to apply?

My course director at UWS forwarded the website to those of us in our digital marketing class, encouraging us to apply as we approached the end of our studies. What originally piqued my interest was the really unique proposition on offer. I was already looking for agency experience but the opportunity to spend time and learn from professionals in their field in not one, but five agencies? It was almost too good to be true. So good, in fact, I almost didn’t apply thinking there was no chance I could get it! Thankfully, I wised up and gave it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose from trying after all.

Out of the 5 skills you’ll be developing your skillset in (UX Design, Digital Marketing, Web Development, Content Strategy and Client Services), which are you most interested in?

I’m almost finished now but I was originally looking forward to the Digital Marketing placement the most as that’s where my experience lies. I’ve been interested in seeing how the different Digital Marketing teams across the agencies work and I have tried to shadow, help out and probably annoy various individuals during my time on the programme!

I’ve been really interested, in particular, about the work that search teams do. SEO, PPC and Analytics are all areas I’ve been learning more about since I’ve been exposed to them in the agencies. This is the end of my fourth month now and I’ve really enjoyed all the placements thus far, I’ve taken something away from each of them which will no doubt be helpful in my future career.

You’re working with our UX Design department, do you feel that you’ve expanded your skill in this during your time with us?

110%. UX Design was really something I didn’t have much knowledge about before this placement. I only knew that you shouldn’t say that it’s just wireframes!

I’ve been able to work on a month-long project throughout my time here, redesigning a key user journey for a client’s website. During this time, I’ve been learning how to use a range of tools and processes to research, gather data, design and rapidly prototype my work. The biggest insight was how much research is involved and how much thought is put into decisions before designing anything. It’s made me completely rethink issues around accessibility on websites, I’ll be having to redesign a few of mine I think!

You still have one more agency to see, but after your time with us, do you feel more passionate about a career in digital or UX design?

Oh definitely, I’ve found myself googling “entry level UX designer” a few times now, so maybe a career change is on the cards! The variety of work that a UX designer gets to do and the meaningful impact they can have on a project really appealed to me during my time at AD.

I’m committed to a career in the digital sector, hopefully, within a team where I can make use of all the skills I’ve learnt on the programme! My only experience outside of creative/digital work is working in restaurants but I’m a horrible cook, so for everyone's safety it’s best I don’t resurrect that particular career path!

IDL Interns 2019

Quickfire! 3 highlights of working in the AD studio with our team:

Learning from both the Design and Marketing teams. Attending meetings, training and getting an overview of agency life.
Secretly sneaking ABBA onto the work playlist every Friday.
The lit secret slack channel where the designers share UX memes.

If you could work for anyone or any brand in the world, who would it be and why?

Facebook. I think we’ve got a massive problem on the internet with misinformation and fake news spreading that is tainting everyday discourse. Huge social media companies have contributed towards the problem and thus bare a social responsibility to attempt to tackle it and educate the public better on how their data is used. Political marketing, in particular, is increasingly co-opting divisive rhetoric and utilising dubious data collection methods in their campaigns. So, I think there is a need for ethical marketers who’ll advocate for better practice in regards to data collection going forward. It’s a huge problem and won’t be easily solved, but I’d like to be part of that effort in any way that I can!

What is the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?

Nothing! My life is boring! I ran into Louis Walsh once and he tried to convince me to go on the X Factor. I couldn’t sing but he said that doesn’t matter and that I should try anyway!

Finally, would you recommend a programme like Inspiring Digital Leaders to others looking to start a career in digital?

Absolutely! If you’re like me and consider yourself a bit of a generalist and isn’t quite sure what their niche is, then this is the perfect opportunity to dip your toes in the water and try something new! Being able to work across five different disciplines in leading agencies is an amazing experience and you learn so much in such a short amount of time!

In a phrase: Just go for it!

5 interns. 5 agencies. 5 disciplines. With the Inspiring Digital Leaders programme, the successful interns are able to learn all about 5 different skills on the job at 5 leading Scottish agencies. We're thrilled to be working with TRC Media, BIMA, Screenmedia, Equator, Front Page and Dog Digital on this programme and facilitating the digital leaders of tomorrow! If you want to find out more about this, check out the website.