Students: Lift Up The Hood & Learn Creative Workflow Software
Guest post by Michele Della Mattia, Executive Director of Operations, The NOW Group
“Summer student”: in many agencies, this is a young person earning little to no pay fetching coffee, collating photocopies or doing digital drudge work until the wee hours. But this shortchanges both students and agencies. Students can offer a lot of value when you see their potential. One of the ways to unlock that value is through software training.
NOW recognizes our summer students as the next generation of communications professionals: for the unions, governments and political and advocacy organizations that make up our clientele, but also for agencies like ours. Our summer students are talented, passionate up-and-comers who share our values. So we pay them a living wage, and we ensure they get practical experience in the nuts and bolts of communication.
We want them to know their way around our agency. While a lot of that comes with day-to-day immersion in the work, you might be surprised just how much knowledge comes from learning the software we work on.
Not just the creative software, either. Sure, honing skills in Photoshop, Illustrator or Final Cut is valuable. But if you want to lift up the hood and see the mechanics of creative agency workflow, there’s nothing like learning Function Point and seeing it in action. That’s where a summer student gets to see how all of our departments — strategic, creative, production, traffic management, administrative — work together.
Joining a brainstorming session can give a student insight into how we marry strategic message with creative execution. But Function Point can show them where that session fits on the journey from strategic planning through creative concept and production to traffic management… and the dizzying array of moving parts that mesh to power that journey.
Collecting files for our archive server can give a student a picture of the kind of assets that go into the various kinds of projects we take on. But closing a job in Function Point can show them how those assets fit together, and the value every member of our team adds along the way.
3 Ways Software Training Can Work For Agencies & Summer Students
Here are three ways we’ve been able to make software training work well for both our agency and our summer students:
- When we choose summer students, we look for aptitude at learning and using software. We’re not demanding that they be computer science majors, but a student who can claim proficiency in a wide range of software apps is already ahead of the game, even if those apps aren’t necessarily the exact applications our office uses.
- We keep the footprint on our staff time relatively small. You’ll always need a certain amount of one-on-one time, but self-paced tutorials and training videos — like the kind Function Point offers in its training program — can make a world of difference.
- And it helps a lot if the software’s interface is simple and intuitive (and Function Point’s is). This brings three benefits: students need less training time, they can start doing useful work sooner, and there are fewer layers between our trainees and the inner workings of our company, so they get a clearer picture of the agency.
So take a second look at your summer students this year. They can be your next cadre of employees, ready to hit the ground running when they graduate — if you’re willing to invest a little time in showing them the operational ropes today.
By Michele Della Mattia, Executive Director of Operations, The NOW Group