Graduate Case Study – Tim Stringer – PHP Developer – Grapple

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Grapple Website Screenshot
Grapple — Digital Agency — Leeds

Tim Stringer graduated from University Centre Wakefield College’s FdA Web Design course in 2010, and has progressed in the Creative & Digital Industries ever since. We caught up with him after he started a new job as a PHP Developer with the ‘Grapple’ Digital Agency in Leeds, and chatted about the course and his thoughts on finding a job in the industry.

Tim’s route to the course was via a BTEC HND in Computing. Part of the HND was a coding module, and once he had finished it, he knew that web development was the career path he wanted to follow. He subsequently found the FdA Web Design course and transferred onto it.

We started by asking Tim what he thought the essentials of studying on the course were: The most important thing is to manage yourself and your time. Be aware that you only get this opportunity once, in terms of the lessons, and the talks that external speakers give. Take it all in the first time. Also, the transferable skills that you learn outside of work will come in handy.

He admitted that he sometimes found the course challenging, but thought the intensity of doing two full days of study – a key feature of the course, and designed to create a pseudo working environment – was beneficial to his learning.

During the second year, he got a part-time job with The Design Mechanics, a Huddersfield-based Web, Branding & Digital Marketing Agency, who have a proud history of employing FdA Web Design students. During his time there, he designed and built websites which made his transition to full-time employment easier.

Since those days, Tim’s career has taken him to a variety of Creative & Digital businesses based in West Yorkshire including Schools Opt-In, where he worked with another FdA Web Design graduate, Mark Lancaster. He still uses some of the skills he learnt at University: particularly project and time management; knowing how long things are going to take; and being able to pick one thing up and put another down.

Given his recent experience in the job market, we continued by asking him for some advice for job-seeking graduates: Whilst a portfolio was a strong aspect of my time at University, I mostly got comments on my CV. Going further and designing your CV with the skills you have learnt at University will make you stand out and give you a better chance of employment. Employers usually don’t go for your portfolio until they have read your CV.

He also advised that focusing on what you are good at, and being honest, was the key to a successful portfolio: If you can’t do something then focus on what you can do. Don’t over-complicate your portfolio, but bear in mind that there is competition in this industry, so you need to stand out.

The industry is very buoyant at the moment. There are a lot of jobs out there and I found many I wanted to do. I applied for ten, got interviewed for eight and was offered four positions, with one being my current role at Grapple. When applying, it’s good to understand what they are asking for in terms of skills and preparing yourself to meet those if possible.

We concluded by asking Tim to give some advice to prospective and current students: Do it! Commit. Give it all the time you can – it’s two years for a better job and career. It was the FdA Web Design course that gave me the opportunity and guided me into the industry that I'm in now. I couldn’t have done it without them and I wouldn’t have such high job satisfaction.

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