Dear 25 year old me,
You were recently invited to speak to a group of students who were about to graduate and hop into the web industry. The brief for the talk was simple; share your perspective about the web industry, how to prepare for it, and how to stand out from the crowd as job candidates.
Talking about your love for the web industry? Yes please, you immediately think to yourself, “I could easily do this all day long.”
As I looked out into the room, it was all so familiar. I remember being that excited when I was about to graduate and I could feel that very same nostalgic energy from where I was standing. Back at that stage in my journey, I remember that I honestly couldn’t wait to hit the ground running and build a career in the web industry.
Coincidentally, penning posts on this blog has already helped me hone in on what I’d want to tell 25 year old me, and some of that advice was what I wanted to share to these students too. But… where to start with these (hopefully helpful) tips?
In this following post, I’ll outline my process in preparing the talk and the key takeaways that I hoped for students to take with them on their awesome journey ahead.
Step 1: Post-it notes, baby!
There was plenty I wanted to say, so I began jotting down these ideas on post-its and sticking them up on the wall to get them out of my head and into a format where I could begin organising the ideas.
Placing them up as notes on the wall gave me a chance to connect these thought tiles and therefore build a structure with them. I began sorting them into idea clusters, for want of a better term.
After that, I continued to add further ideas to expand on what was there and began to build a narrative around them to work in some themes and connections.
Now that I had all the content formed in front of me, the next step would be to turn these notes into slides.
I opted to use google slides and a minimal approach to creating the content in the slides themselves as I wanted to discuss the points in a more conversational tone. Of course, I also didn’t want to be just reading off dot points on-screen.
In the first part of the talk, the content was grouped into 9 easy takeaway statements for the audience and simply expanded on the tips verbally with real supporting stories along with a few helpful how-tos.
These 9 tips for getting web industry ready were;
1. Stay Inspired
Soak in all that delicious inspiration. Every. Day.
2. Experience is Everything
Put together a kick-ass portfolio & demonstrate strategic thinking.
3. Meet People
You can learn something from anyone.
4. Keep Every Door Open
You never know, what you don’t know.
5. Keep Learning
Learn something new. Play. Experiment. Repeat.
6. Find a Mentor
For the cost of a cup of coffee.
7. Manage Your Expectations
Do your research. Roles. Salary. Be prepared for learning.
8. Make an Impression
Hire me… immediately!
9. Find Your Niche
And learn how to show off your skills!
The second part of the talk included advice for once someone had succeeded and landed that awesome job.
What were the next steps to know from here?
I decided to add in 9 bonus tips. These following gems are the things that I believe aren’t set-and-forget tasks, but rather things that will keep adding value to careers (whether the person has been in the web industry one day, one year or ten years).
1. Enjoy the Fruits of your Labour
Celebrate! No, really.
2. Re-Visit Your Plan
This is just the beginning!
Work. Life. Health. Play
4. Give Back
Help out others. Volunteer. Teach.
5. Do Side Projects
Take the lead. Stay passionate and inspired.
6. Keep Meeting People
People are the best!
7. Keep Learning
Try and learn something new, big or small, every day.
8. Be Ethical
Don’t do dodgy work. Don’t rip people off. Be good.
9. Be respectful. Be cool.
Learn to work with others & be sans douche.
Question time was great; I had some great chats where we were mainly going through ways that they could stand out more as job applicants.
All in all, speaking to this group of students was an amazing experience to be a part of and would want to do it again in a heartbeat.
Honestly, I probably got just as much out of the experience as the students; perhaps even more!?
I came across a fantastic quote the other day which summed up my feelings about it perfectly;
“A single sentence spoken at the right time could change someone’s life forever”.
I know I’ve certainly experienced this on the receiving end myself, so I hope that I was able to help these students in some way, whether the impact was big or small. VERY excited to see these new faces join our awesome industry!
Always open to more speaking opportunities in future and although public speaking scares the daylight out of me, it really is so much fun once done!
** Slides will be linked soon.