A graduate’s guide to working in digital

So you’re about to graduate and you’ve been asked too many times some variation of, “What are you going to do after uni?” or, if you studied humanities, “So what are you now? What will you be qualified to do?”.  

Leaving uni, the first struggle is knowing where to find a job. The second can be self-doubt - “Which jobs will want me?”. When I was considering careers post-university, I was very indecisive. I had a degree and six years of work experience behind me, but still I just didn’t know which field I wanted to get my “start” in. Where I ended up is in a two-year graduate program at Liquid.  

Grad programs can provide an opportunity to gain diverse experience across a business or industry. Offered in both government and the private sector, you’ll want one that will give you a range of transferrable skills you can take anywhere. As the workforce becomes increasingly automated, employers are prioritising skills such as innovation, social influence and resilience, and one expanding industry that can cultivate these skills is digital.


Working in digital 

The digital industry needs diversity at every level, from cultural to professional. There are opportunities for graduates from a variety of majors including design, humanities, and business, as well as the full suite of IT-based majors. At Liquid, we have team members with professional backgrounds in finance, teaching, and physiotherapy.   

The digital industry itself is quite broad and so a “digital agency” might mean different things to different people. Consultancy? Graphic design firm? Digital marketing?  

At Liquid, we’re a multidisciplinary company with a blend of specialists in research, design, content, development and testing. We solve digital problems that positively impact the community for both government and enterprise clients. We tackle social challenges like mental health, aged care and education with digital platforms or products.   


Is digital the right path? 

As someone graduating from humanities, a question I had when first starting was, “Is this the right industry for me to start in? And if I don’t enjoy it, will I have wasted my time?”    

This question is relevant to anyone after uni, and there’s truly no right answer. What I can share is that even if working in digital isn’t right for you long term, over the course of a graduate program, you will develop a core foundation of skills that you can carry into any job. These core skills are a combination of:   

  • Public speaking: You will definitely be developing presentation skills, both in-person and online, with peers and with clients. Communicating your research findings and solution rationale are both a part of your formal learning and a critical aspect of project work.  
  • Communication: Our job is to solve problems and communicate them to each other and especially to clients. You will learn different ways of communicating with different audiences. If you are planning to move into more senior roles throughout your career, communication is what will set you apart from your peers and ensure you progress in an organisation.  
  • Empathy: Human-centered design is the foundation for all Liquid projects, so empathy is a critical skill to ensure our products address the various needs of our users.   
  • Project management: A valuable skill that can assist you through your career, project management can be further broken down into planning, managing change, maximizing resources and controlling costs.   


Six tips from one grad to another 

Many graduates already have experience in the workforce. Whether you’re transitioning from a service industry like hospitality or retail, or from something similarly customer-facing, you will probably experience a cultural shift when you first enter what I like to refer to as “project-land”. 

Think about value and outputs, not tasks and input 

Contributing to agency life is less about hours on a timesheet like in retail or hospitality, and more about delivering value. Whilst the most obvious way to do this is on client projects, there’s plenty of other ways you can do this as a graduate. Remember, you're there to learn the craft, so if you can’t directly help out on client work, instead do some self-directed learning, volunteer to support another project, review your rotation experiences, or find ways to help improve the culture at your workplace. This leads me to my next tip... 

Take ownership of your professional development  

No one will have a greater impact on your career than you. Even if you aren’t aspiring to move into a senior role, taking ownership over your growth at the start of your career will develop your professional maturity, resilience, and be an investment in yourself that pays-off. Actively seek out mentors, be curious about what you can improve on by asking for feedback and being vocal about where/what you want to learn. Share your goals and provide feedback if you see a process that could be improved. 

Learn to love your tools 

As you may or may not have guessed, a lot of time at a digital agency is spent online (and some of our team members are fully remote). At Liquid we use collaborative software including Jira, Confluence, Figma, Microsoft Teams, and Slack (a fan favourite is the #pets-of-liquid channel) to stay connected and share work. Bonus tip: invest in a decent set of headphones (if you haven’t already). A truly essential piece of equipment. Decent headphones means you can take meetings from anywhere with minimal noise pollution.   

Think ‘Agile’, be agile 

A simple explanation for Agile is to think of it as a method for breaking a big project down into manageable tasks that can adapt to the changing needs of a product’s development. Agile is a great for collaborating with clients and users to ensure the end-product genuinely solves the root problem. Our senior discipline leads host regular grad workshops that break down the methodology, terminology (stand ups, sprints, definition of done) and the practical application in the context of our ongoing projects.  

‘Flexible’ is different for everyone 

Office life has changed.  

9-5? Not necessarily.  

Five days commuting to the studio? It depends on what works for you and your team. 

If you’re transitioning from a service industry, flexible work arrangements mean that not only do you get your weekends back (shout out to grads from hospo/retail) but you can save additional time and costs on your work-from-home days. For me, a routine is a must. Having set days when I come into the office, logging on and off at (roughly) the same time every day. What’s important is to be reliable and flexible to project needs. Another aspect is learning the different ways of working with your colleagues. Each discipline has people with their own professional ways of working. 

Coffee...and then another coffee  

Wanting to get to know your colleagues? Ask them to go for coffee (or a bubble tea, whatever your preference). Many in this industry have a mild caffeine addiction, so going for coffee is truly cross-disciplinary. It’s an opportunity to take a break from Teams and network in-person. 


What makes Liquid different? 

Aside from project work, Liquid runs regular events in-studio.  

Our annual games day, the Moosies, sees teams compete in rapid-fire cerebral, creative and physical challenges. It’s an opportunity for the whole company to get together as a team and enjoy a social afternoon.  

Our Future Led series is a panel discussion (with breakfast bar!) featuring experts from a range of different fields. The series keeps our minds fresh and allows the team to network with other Brisbane change-makers. Some of our past panels covered topics like ‘Co-design with Indigenous communities’, ‘How robotics and AI can supercharge local manufacturing’ and ‘Will blockchain save us all?’.  


Interested in starting your digital journey at Liquid?  

Applications for our 2024 graduate program are open! Find out more and apply before May 31.