Whether you’re a student and/or person in job transition, figuring out what career to dive into can be stressful.
You’re probably feeling the heat right now.
I’ve lived that, but the great thing is you don’t have to stay there.
If you’re punching your life-sized Justin Bieber plush toy out of frustration, give your knuckles a break…
then consider this — a digital media career.
With the explosion of social media’s popularity, companies are realizing its profit potential and are hungry to employ those with specialized skills and knowledge to captain their digital media ship.
It’s definitely an industry which is constantly growing and innovating at warp speed.
To get a taste of what roles are out there, here are some websites – Career Builder, Indeed, Disney, ESPN and Digital Media Jobs.ca to name a few.
With this in mind, I was on a quest recently to find insider information on what it takes to successfully enter this unique job market.
While covering The Digital Media Summit, I interviewed 3 successful achievers with some insight – StumbleUpon’s Andrew Levine, Rogers Media’s Jason Tafler and EA Sports’ Colin Macrae.
By the way, this downtown Toronto conference also featured movers, shakers and whiz kids from the likes of Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter Canada, Yahoo Canada plus a special appearance from social media marketing rock star, Gary Vaynerchuk.
Overall, it was a good experience hearing from brilliant digital media minds including the gentlemen you’re about to meet.
Andrew Levine is the Head of Partnerships & Communication Strategy at StumbleUpon and 5by.
He leads brand integration opportunities with major media partners including Conde Nast, Hearst, Vice, and Mashable. Andrew is also in charge of PR and Social Media, across both StumbleUpon and 5by.
The Dream Job Guy: Starting out, what helped your job search?
AL: “If you want to be taken seriously, take yourself seriously. Go out. Take a class. Do something that will take you to the next level. I’ve helped myself in the past by working with a career counsellor. I think it, in some respects, it has some of the faux pas of going to a therapist but people do that stuff because it works. Working with a career expert has given me the ability to better manage my career. Sometimes it takes outside attention to help refine what you should be doing and where you should be putting your time and energy. Tips about how you even find out about new careers.”
TDJG: What qualities and/or experience are you seeking for newcomers to your team?
AL: “We generally look for people that have a very specific skill set and a high level of passion. A burning internal fire to build. These are people that want to be at a smaller company to build a company. These are people that don’t mind answering e-mails on the weekend because they can’t help it. It’s inside them that they’re just so invested in the business. Invested in ideas. Invested in idea exchanges. The other thing that I look for are just people that have skills that compliment myself and our team. We’re always looking to bring on people who do things better than us. That’s the most fun part of hiring.”"
TDJG: Any tips for students who are trying to choose a career?
AL: “Major in something that you’re interested in. In the United States, it’s 4 years of your life. If you’re not interested in it, you probably are not going to be going to class as much as you should. You might as well find something that you like and pursue it with all your might. Your undergraduate degree is certainly a helpful way to navigate yourself into a first job, but everyone in the hiring world knows that this is your first job and they’re not expecting you to come in on the first day with 10 years of experience or the world’s biggest rolodex. Part of the approach is how do you frame your undergraduate experience in a way that can be meaningful to that business? Then when you sit down with people, it’s you and another person. These people are, ultimately, if they’re going to have to work with you, they will have to like you then it falls on your shoulders.”
Andrew added StumbleUpon’s business team doesn’t generally hire right out of college and looks for a few years of direct experience. However, you can still check out their job page here.
Jason Tafler is the Chief Digital Officer of Rogers Media.
Jason is responsible for driving the company’s digital media strategy, growth and innovation through multi-platform media and marketing solutions across Rogers’s diverse digital portfolio of network sites.
TDJG: Early in your working life, you had some bad jobs. You were a telemarketer and worked 100 hours a week at an investment bank. How did you mentally make it through the challenging times?
JT: “I didn’t know exactly where I’d end up, but I always had sort of a long term goal to keep in mind as I want to be part of building something and leading and innovating. That was always a common thread throughout my career. So even though, I had a tough time through it at times, I always thought to myself, ‘This is giving me good skills. This is giving me good contacts. Giving me good knowledge, experience and wisdom that I can use in the future.’ If you’re stressed and it’s a tough situation, take a step back. Take a deep breath. Try to take some time away at times and then try to put in perspective and think about the long term.”
TDJG: If someone is looking to crack your team, what do they need?
JT: “There’s no magic answer, but I think a few of the key items for people that want to be on our team, 1) They’ve got to have a lot of passion and positive energy around digital. They’ve got to really be passionate about how digital can impact people’s lives. How it can help them, entertain them, etc. 2) They’ve got to be willing to realize that it’s going to be a progression in learning. They have to have a certain appetite for learning. They will have to be willing to work pretty hard. They have to be willing to be proactive and take ownership over things. We just want people who want to come in be a part of a great team, learn, make an impact and then if they do that and they have the right attitude and they perform well, they can progress very quickly and the sky is the limit. So, we want those passionate people with proactive attitudes that come with ideas and creativity and solutions.”
TDJG: What can job seekers do to be more attractive to potential employers?
JT: “Experience as much as they can. Try out all types of different digital experiences and try to get in somewhere where the leadership there sees digital as important part of the future and is willing to give them a shot, but also don’t just rely on the company to give you all the skills you need. There’s so much you can learn out there by reading books and taking courses. Talking to people. Downloading apps. The more you can learn, the more valuable you’ll be to the company.”
In terms of needing extra education, Jason mentioned his group is pretty flexible and open minded. People can learn a lot once they’re in and they’ll be taught many of the skills. He’s looking for passion and interest as the main requirements. Of course, if you’re aiming for a more technical role then relevant schooling will be needed.
To find Rogers Digital Media job opportunities, visit this link.
If you’re a sports fan, I’m sure you’re familiar with these…
Colin Macrae is surrounded by sports and video games constantly.
Yes, he does get paid for this and now you wish you did too.
Colin leads the Integrated Communications Team for the FIFA, UFC and NHL franchises at EA SPORTS. He manages a global team and drives public relations, media relations, direct-to-consumer communications and social media for some of the world’s biggest video game franchises.
TDJG: Before landing your sweet gig, how did you cope with tough jobs?
CM: “Someone told me very early, the time you need to leave the job that you’re in is the day that you stop learning. You can always find learning opportunities in those jobs. Sometimes they’re just not in the job that you’re doing but learning from colleagues and people around you. If you’re learning, you’re probably in a pretty good place.”
TDJG: In terms of adding to your team, what do you look for in potential candidates?
CM: “First, passion for video games. We also talk a lot about passion for sports. You have to be right into it. The teams that I work with and do communications on it are so fluent. They live, breathe, die soccer. They live, breathe, die hockey. They live, breathe, die fighting. Also, great communications skills primarily as a writer because the writers shall inherit the Earth. Communications is less about the techniques and the tools, it’s more about the fundamental of being a great storyteller. Being a great communicator in a variety of different platforms, so those are the things we get excited about.”
TDJG: Any tips for those going after their dream careers?
CM: “”Follow your passions. That’s the biggest thing. If you’re passionate about something, that is absolutely the way that you should go. Passion and caring about what you’re working on. Not just thinking about of getting like “a job”. Think about getting “THE JOB”. Maybe it’s not “the job” that you were thinking about at a certain level, but if you’re passionate about the subject matter, whether it be sports or technology or whatever it is, be passionate about that. That’s the thing that will get you through tough days. You can’t manufacture passion. You can’t fake it. When you’re having a crappy day at work , you can’t go find it in your top left drawer. That just does not exist. You need to have it.”
Colin also says the career choices for people who want to get into the Canadian video game industry are enormous whether it be in programming, production or other areas. There are great development studios across the country including in Vancouver, Prince Edward Island and many stops in between.
As well, he mentioned Canada is the world’s 3rd largest video game developer behind the U.S. and Japan.
To check out EA Sports jobs, you can visit here.
Many thanks to Andrew, Jason and Colin for sharing some helpful insight and hope for those who are struggling to figure out their career path.
If you have any questions you’d like me to send their way, feel free to comment below or e-mail me.
Alright, thank you for reading and have a good one!