Exploring this Job
There are several ways you can explore this type of work. Test your interest in technology and digital media by joining a tech club at your high school or in the local community. Does your school have a Web site? If not, talk to your principal about designing one. If it does, get involved with the people who update the site and volunteer to help. Create your own video games or animated features to gain an introduction to these specialties.
Do some research on the latest in computer technology. Examine Web sites, books, and Internet chat groups that provide good computer education material. Attend computer trade shows and learn about recent developments. Of course, you should take computer science and digital media classes at your school, but you should also check out what classes are available through community offerings. The local college, for example, may offer an evening class in Web site design that your high school does not.
Simply accessing the Internet frequently and studying different Web site designs and the increasing number of e-commerce sites can give you an insight into today's technology and how rapidly the computer industry is changing. Also, ask your school counselor or computer teacher to arrange for a computer consultant, Web designer, social media professional, or programmer to give a career talk at your school. Ask if you can "shadow," or accompany, a professional for a day.
Try getting a part-time or summer job working in a computer store. In this setting you can meet people involved in many aspects of the computer world, from the programmer, to the seller, to the user. You can also get experience in the field of human resources by working at a temporary staffing agency. You may just be answering phones and filing, but you will see how professionals in the human resources field work.
Digital agents represent professionals in the digital world. These can range from technical positions such as applications developers, software engineers, and computer security specialists; to managerial positions such as social media managers and business executives; to creative positions such as Web developers, digital artists, animators, and game designers.
Digital agents are responsible for finding their clients suitable work and are also responsible to the companies that come to their agencies looking for appropriate help. An agent may work with clients who are independent contractors (freelancers who work on a project for one company, then work on another project for a different company) or with clients who are looking for full-time salaried positions. No matter what type of employment the client wants, however, the agent will spend considerable time getting to know his or her skills and goals. Only agents who understand their clients will be able to find them the best positions.
The digital agent's job, though, is not the same as that of a traditional job recruiter or placement executive. Unlike recruiters who work on commission, digital agents do not have to place clients to get paid. Because they receive a salary and no commissions, they can afford to spend time with clients and the prospective companies who are looking for these specialized workers. In this way, digital agents can make matches that will make both the client and the company happy.
The digital agent interviews new clients, or talents, to find out what their skills are and what type of work they would like to have. What kind of design or animation software is the client comfortable using? Does the client enjoy doing Web design? What is the client's education and previous work experience? Does the client want to work freelance or as a salaried employee of a company?
The agent also needs to interview representatives of companies who are looking for employees. Does the company want someone to do Web design, strategic planning for e-commerce, write and design video games, design software applications, or some other job? What computer skills do they feel the employee should have? How long will the project last? Will the employee work as a member of a team or independently? Agents will ask as many questions as they need to get a feel for the company's requirements so that a good match can be made.
Some agents work mostly with individuals who have specific computer-related skills, while others represent small firms or groups of talented high-tech or artistic workers. Frequently these small firms do specialized work, and they are sometimes known as "boutique firms." Digital agents match these small firms with other companies that need their unique services.
Because the high-tech and digital media industries are still growing, it can be difficult for small firms to get the visibility they need in the field in order to establish themselves. Digital agents representing these small firms can make the firms' services known to large corporations in need of technical or creative help. Again, the agent will have interviewed members of the small firm so that he or she knows the firm's area of expertise. The agent will also know what type of larger company the firm may want to work with. Then, through the agency's connections, the digital agent will contact larger companies or establishments that are in need of such services. The agent must also keep budgets in mind when doing this work, since what the larger company is willing to pay for the work must match with what the small firm is willing to accept.
Digital agents must have knowledge of the types of jobs (and required skill sets) that are available in the high-tech and digital media industries. Sometimes companies come to the agents thinking that they need an employee with one type of skill when, in reality, the employee should have other technical skills. Agents must assess the company's needs and the crucial aspects of projects. Sometimes agents may have to do research to determine what the most important requirements are for certain projects. Then agents can make recommendations about what type of talent the company needs and suggest an appropriate match.