THE INDUSTRY IN LONDON
Britain has long valued craftsmanship and design in the manufacture of clothes, furnishings, and vehicles, but recent years have seen the start and rapid growth of a new technology sector. In fact, the UK digital economy is growing at twice the rate of the wider economy.
East London had always historically been rundown compared to The City, the financial district of London, but the 2008 recession left even more buildings and warehouses empty and abandoned. Cheap rents attracted a new wave of technology start-ups to the area, followed by investment from the government which was quickly followed by interest and property acquisitions from companies like Google and universities like Imperial College. The intention was to develop a cluster of technology start-ups to rival Silicon Valley in the US, and the “Silicon Roundabout” or the “East London Tech City” was born. Today it is the third largest technology startup cluster after San Francisco and New York. Most of these companies are situated in incubators and co-working spaces, where many small companies occupy just a desk, a table or one office, and share resources and collaborate with other companies in the hub.
While London is host to many technology and design companies, industry events, and government support, most of the actual coding is outsourced to places like India and Poland. The high cost of labor makes outsourcing an attractive option, and it is yet to be seen how developments like Brexit will impact the industry.
|The companies we work with are mostly small-to-medium sized (not large companies). Learn more here.|
Students who choose Technology & Design may be placed in any of the opportunities below. If a particular sub-area catches your eye, let us know on your MyInternship form.
For students with strong graphic design skills and an excellent portfolio, there a number of opportunities to assist with visual communications and presentation. Placements could be within a specialized design or communications agency or a relevant team or department within a particular company or organization. Tasks can include the creation of visual images, working with specific creative briefs and projects, media manipulation, branding promotional materials, and content development. Interns will be exposed to the inner workings of creative decisions at their placement, but are not likely to be given creative control over their work. As with all placements, the intern is likely to be assigned a variety of tasks in addition to graphic design work, including operations and administrative duties.
Most companies and organizations have a web or social media presence and for students with excellent web design skills, there can be opportunities to assist with a variety of web-based tasks. It is important to note that most of the actual coding and construction of the website is likely to be outsourced (even within a web-design agency), but knowledge of coding and languages is always useful. Instead, tasks often include creating, organizing and developing content on CMS systems like WordPress, updating and amending existing materials, facilitating usability, reviewing appearance and structure, and managing web presence through social media tools. Placements can include web design and communications agencies or a relevant team or department within a particular company or organization.
Management Information & Support
Students with excellent computer programming and support skills may find themselves interning for an IT department within a company. Tasks may include assisting with software and working with databases, websites, and shared networks. Duties could also involve project management, analysis, network management, new business, and consultancy. Previous experience in a similar capacity is typically required so be sure to detail this on your CV.
Product Development & Testing
With the growing demand for apps and online tools, companies which make these are flourishing. Even companies whose main business is not technological – for example, beauty, travel, logistics, or education – can find a demand for targeted and niche apps, systems and online communities. Students with strong technical skills can assist with the testing and enhancement of these products, typically in a structured and managed way. Strong communication and reporting skills are also required so that the placement can take action on any bugs or inconsistencies discovered. While the actual coding and building of the project will likely be outsourced, these skills are skill helpful and can sometimes be utilized and developed in the placement.
REALITIES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The fast pace of growth in London and across the industry as a whole means role availability and skills requirements can change quickly. Students should be ready to adapt to new technologies and projects. As the industry matures, just being young and considered a “digital native” isn’t enough proof of your ability to engage with technology in a professional capacity. Full details of all relevant skills, including the specific names of software programs, tools, and languages are key to showing potential employers that you meet their needs.
All FIE placements are entry-level, and this field is no exception. Students should expect meaningful tasks which provide insight into the industry, but keep in mind that important decisions and creative control typically rests with senior staff. A technology and design internship in London is an excellent way to learn through observing and working alongside experienced practitioners in the field.
- Demonstrated proficiency in relevant software, tools, and languages. Make sure to list these by name along with your level of proficiency.
- Awareness of differences between the UK and American systems
- Technical problem-solving skills
- Flexibility and willingness to work both on creative and administrative tasks
- Strong communication skills
Relevant academic experience. Applicable majors include Computer Science, Management Information Systems, Media Studies, Art, Studio Art, Graphic Design, Communications, and Journalism.
TIPS AND TRICKS: SHOWING YOU'RE A STRONG CANDIDATE
- Certain placements require certain knowledge, so to maximize your chances list everything you know. For example, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Photoshop, Canva, Wordpress, MySQL, Python, PHP.
- Describe relevant projects, both inside and outside the classroom
- Include a link to your online portfolio