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Digital Cadets – Training NSW Students About Digital Marketing

Times have changed. One of Australia’s largest media agency networks WPP, last year announced that over 50% of all their client’s media investment is in digital marketing. LinkedIn posted that globally over 60% of the top 20 skills employers are looking for sit within digital marketing related fields. LAFHA is dead and ‘marketing specialist’ no longer enables the skilled foreign workforce to remain in the country by providing a clear route to permanent residency.

What experts don’t understand is how the industry, which Indago Digital team believes is dynamic, inventive and forward-thinking hasn’t changed tact. Salaries for under skilled digital marketers with limited tenure are unworkable but ever-increasing. Their appetite for importing foreign talent that can no longer stay and provide an ongoing solution hasn’t waned.

Furthermore, they continue to neglect focusing their efforts on growing local talent. Of course, there are pockets of people, companies and organisations going against the grain but the light is not on and certainly isn’t burning brightly for the masses.

In May of this year Indago Digital built an event that could go some way to alleviating the issue. They hosted Digital Cadets with Google, Randstad and UniDays at the SCG. Its purpose was to educate a couple of hundred of NSW’s brightest university students on how to get into digital marketing and what to expect from working in the industry.

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It was never meant to be what it ended up becoming. At the beginning Indago Digital wanted to find a cost-effective way of educating university students in NSW on why and how to get into the industry. They thought they’d host individual events on each university’s campus, for a couple of hours and for Indago Digital to be the sole presenters.

After they met with faculty heads and the career teams they knew the event could be so much more.

The interest was surprisingly large, and they knew they could fill any sized venue. The questions they asked themselves were:

1. How much would this all cost
2. Could they find sponsors to alleviate the financial burden

Sponsors were easy to find, they agreed on the Sydney Cricket Ground as the venue and an audience of 200 penultimate and last year students.

The event was marketed via the university’s; websites, social channels, career hubs, lecturers and associations to 100,000’s of students. The application process happened over two stages, with successful candidates from stage one being invited to stage two. From the thousands of applicants 200 were selected from a range of Universities: Macquarie, UTS, UNSW, Sydney, Wollongong and Western Sydney.

Brett Armstrong, Head of Media Agencies AUNZ at Google spoke about “AI and the Future of the Internet”.

Karen Ganschow, General Manager Consumer Marketing & Strategy at NAB explained how in digital marketing you need to “Pivot or Pale into Insignificance”.

Whilst Leigh Duncan, Executive Manager at Randstad educated the audience on “Salary Expectations and the Digital Ecosphere”.

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Indago Digital ran three training sessions based on a fictitious travel brand;

1. Starting a brand
2. Building awareness
3. Driving sales

Each session was accompanied by a workshop that the students completed in teams of ten. The graduates did extremely well; designing webpages, creating a content campaign and building a marketing plan.

The event was well received;

• 86% are more likely to pursue a career in the industry after attending the event
• 89% said the event was excellent or very good
• 100% said the event increased their digital marketing knowledge

When asked about digital assets, outside of a website, a new online brand would need to build the responses were focused on social media.

Social media played a major part of the strategies the students produced throughout the day. When building a content marketing campaign the majority focused their concepts around social media influencers to both create and distribute the content. This isn’t surprising as social media is a massive part of their general lives and their digital marketing studies.

It is however a concern that they are looking to obtain jobs in an industry where they have little understanding of the market place, techniques and channels available. Although Indago Digital doesn’t believe the Universities are to blame, 97% of delegates said that their university needed to improve its focus on digital marketing.

Remember that these students are about to enter the workforce but only 49% of them had heard of Glassdoor. While 86% had a LinkedIn account, only 75% of those had used it in the past three months and 40% of all students didn’t see the platform as an important part of landing their dream job and job titles.

It’s too early to say how many of them are pursing jobs in the digital marketing industry but Indago Digital has employed three, numerous of them have applied to work at Google and Randstad is in the process of recruiting them into their client base.

What’s next for Digital Cadets?

It’s too early to answer that question but the team is working on the plan for 2019. Yearly event in NSW? Include other states and territories? Make it bigger and include an exhibition or reduce its size and tailor it to each university?

What we know is that they are looking for more employers to get involved to ensure the event is the first step in these students’ digital marketing journey.

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