On 2nd October 2018, the Bournemouth International Centre played host to Digital Wave – the largest digital youth conference in the UK. Digital Wave is the brainchild of our founder Andrew Henning, who is passionate about nurturing the next generation of digital professionals. Students aged between 14 and 19 years old gathered for the annual event – now in its fourth year – to hear from speakers and exhibitors about the different careers and opportunities in the digital and creative industries.
The conference attracted around 1,000 students from 14 schools and colleges across the South Coast who gained valuable careers insights from experts in automation testing, UX content strategy, development, design, marketing, brand engagement, and from digital agency founders. Host for the day was Robert Belgrave from hosting specialists Wirehive.
A host of acclaimed speakers
Attendees gained valuable insights into all corners of the industry from speakers including:
Jamie Spafford – Co-founder of SORTEDfood
After the regretful purchase of a frozen doner kebab at university, Jamie and his school friend recognised that they needed to learn to cook simple, healthy food and began a YouTube channel dedicated to cookery. They weren’t alone – there was an entire generation of people like them looking for cooking advice.
10 years on, SORTEDfood has built an online community of over 2 million subscribers and works with high-profile clients including The Co-op and Ford Mustang.
Jamie proved to be a huge hit with the attending students, entertaining them with his audience-focused brand engagement videos (as well as being humble enough to show his early beginnings in YouTube videos – to much audience amusement!).
Ashley Smith – Test Analyst at Mitrefinch Ltd & Co-founder of the York ‘Women in Tech’ chapter
Fed up with describing test automation as just ‘something clever with computer’, Ashley spoke to the students about the role of a test analyst and the importance of testing technology, using gaming analogies to explain hard-to-grasp aspects.
Ashley encouraged students to start off in smaller companies where there are more opportunities to wear a number of hats and gain wider ranging experience. She also outlined her journey into test automation, a function that saves her colleagues time by doing the dull tasks for them, meaning Ashley and her colleagues can get on with more important and exciting tasks!
She also went into detail about the other types of roles she interacts with in the industry – from user researchers, frontend developers, technical authors, and Scrum Masters.
Simon Harmer – Founder of Marmalade on Toast
Kicking off with an interactive game, Simon got students to open Dwoodle – a doodle drawing application, running a competition for the best drawing.
As an illustrator himself, as well as an agency founder, Simon shared his career journey – from how his career started with an appearance on TV, to how illustrations were used by Hugo Boss to front an entire campaign. At Marmalade on Toast, he now works with big brands, including Samsung to launch the Galaxy and Note models of their phones.
Luke Guppy – Development Director at Pulselive
Luke took students on his career journey from 1997 to the present day, revealing how his career changed with the advent of the internet. Originally designing for newspapers in black and white, the internet opened up a whole new world of opportunity.
Luke spoke of how, despite being experienced in design, joining a large digital agency in 2009 taught him to never be comfortable as there is always someone better than you. This was a humbling story that taught students how a respectful attitude to others and a willingness to learn will get you far. He’s now a full-stack Development Director – a role that sees him blend the lines between front and backend development. Luke also shared his tips for getting – and keeping – a job in digital, as well as useful tools to help you along the way.
Gayathri Sudhakaran – Head of Self-Serve and Digital Propositions at LV=
What will happen in the future? What jobs will exist? These are just some of the questions asked by Gayathri. As it is estimated that 65% of today’s kids will end up in jobs that don’t even exist yet, the future can seem scary – how can you adequately prepare for such a future? Gayathri’s talk focused on how being human in a digital world will be the competitive advantage needed to get ahead.
Alex Price – CEO and Founder of 93Digital
Strapped for cash as a teenager and unwilling to do chores around the house, Alex sought other ways to get some small change. Spotting web development as a way to make money from his bedroom, Alex founded his first digital agency before leaving school. Now 25, he runs 93Digital in his London office.
Highlighting Adobe Dreamweaver as his go-to tool when he started his business, Alex’s other tips included remembering that patience is a virtue when living in an ‘instant’ world, that there are jobs for non-technical people in a technical world, and to focus on proving your skills with portfolios and passion projects as early in your career as you can.
Hannah Brookes – UX Content Strategist at Jellyfish
Like Alex mentioned, the digital industry does offer opportunities for non-technical people – and, by self-admission, Hannah is one of those people. She might not be able to code, but she knew she could write. After getting involved in journalism at her university newspaper, she discovered what she really loved was writing.
Her tips included being flexible as the industry doesn’t always take you in the direction you anticipated, to always play to your strengths, and to discover how you like to work as this is just as important as what you like to work on.
Steven “Woody” Woodgate – Marketing Lead at Microsoft
The last speaker of the day spoke to the students about overcoming challenges – such as his dyslexia and dyspraxia and how this affected him at school and university. Adamant that your only limitations are those you give yourself, Woody reinforced the principle that people who say ‘you can’t do that’ aren’t very important! Now working at Microsoft, Woody credits technology with levelling the playing field for people who might otherwise face barriers in education and the workplace.
Woody highlighted a study that learned 98% of children aged 5 are considered geniuses due to their creativity and ability to operate in a world not yet hindered by social expectations. He believes that creativity will be the key driver for a successful career in the future. He went on to explore 10 hotly anticipated potential future careers, including space tour guides and biohackers, giving the students a glimpse of what the future could hold.
Inspiring the next generation
Students were also able to explore the exhibitor area to speak directly with employers within the digital industry and to colleges and universities. As well as have the opportunity to gain information on career and education options, students could also explore AR and VR experiences, get hands-on with robotic hands, control an R2D2 droid via smartphone and enter competitions. Exhibitors included Vitality, Bournemouth and Poole College, Arts University Bournemouth, Crowd, Eagle Labs, Cold Banana Studios, Adido, Avec UK, Bournemouth University, Dorset LEP, Intergage, Lineup Media, Centre VR, LoveLove Films, Collective Technology and Redweb.
Digital Wave founder Andrew Henning said:
“Digital Wave is something everyone at Redweb is extremely passionate about, it is this passion for teaching the next generation what careers opportunities are open to them that keeps the event running so successfully.
Every year I think ‘How are we going to top last year?’ and every year the team, our speakers, partners, and exhibitors all go above and beyond to make Digital Wave an even bigger success. Digital Wave 2018 was no different and we are excited to see how we can top it at next year’s event!”
View the gallery of photos from the day or see what you missed in our Digital Wave 2018 video.
As Digital Wave organiser we would like to give special thanks to our sponsors Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, The Careers & Enterprise Company, and Bournemouth Borough Council, along with A/V partners BFX Festival and Brighter Productions. Thank you also to all of the speakers and exhibitors for taking the time to share their career stories and for informing students about career and education opportunities. Digital Wave is now a participant of BOMO Festival and we would like to extend thanks to the hardworking BOMO team for their continued support.
Digital Wave will be back in 2019 – keep an eye on the website for updates or, if you’d like to get involved, please email email@example.com