Daniel Hester used to work as a mechanic, but after being made redundant he decided it was time for change. He’d always been interested in websites, but didn’t know how to go about turning them into a career.
Having originally applied to do a digital media course at a local university, it wasn’t until he subsequently found the FdA Web Design course that a career in the specialised field of Search Engine Optimisation [SEO] opened up to him.
Dan now works as an Organic Strategy Manager at Leeds based Online Marketing Agency Fusion Unlimited. He told us about his realisation whilst on the course that he wanted to specialise in SEO rather than the traditional fields of development or design:
I’d always had an interest in SEO, and had often wondered how to get to number one on Google. When we were given the opportunity to independently learn a new skill, I jumped at the chance to expand on my SEO knowledge.
I’d already realised the traditional routes of being a designer or developer weren’t for me, and this provided me with an alternative path. It suits my personal characteristics perfectly, I’ve always been a bit of an analyst and problem solver, so being able to transfer those skills to the digital media industry was perfect.
Doing the course really helped prepare me for my current role as an SEO Consultant. Having a strong understanding of code, usability and good design is key to doing my job effectively. Without good design, an SEO campaign is extremely difficult.
It wasn’t only an understanding of web design principles that helped Dan prepare for work in the industry:
The course provides a lot of key lessons in employability. The environment itself; being at college from 9 until 5, and working with people from different backgrounds helps you mentally prepare.
We got the chance to talk to working professionals on a regular basis. We got to ask questions and really gain an insight of the industry. Seeing how passionate these visitors were about their jobs made me work harder. They also helped me realise just how many different avenues there are in the industry.
Dan, like his fellow students, agrees that the course's commercial projects are the cornerstone to becoming employable and setting the course apart:
We got to do live projects. Not many other courses offer that. We weren’t just writing about websites, we were making them for real people. We got involved.
We had tight deadlines, it was realistic to the work place. You had to go to meetings and talk to clients. It sets you apart from other graduates following more traditional routes of study.
It wasn’t only live projects on the course that helped Dan get his current job at Fusion Unlimited. Due to FdA Web Design’s network, he was able to gain work placements throughout his two years of study:
I got out there, worked at different agencies. Without doing this, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Dan concluded that the mix of live experience and work experience helped him pursue his career as an SEO Consultant. Being able to study his chosen speciality, and continue it through commercial work helped set him apart from other job candidates.
We asked Dan if he had any advice for other students:
Get out there, get placements. Don’t be afraid to ask people for work; the worst they can do is say no.
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