Looking to get digital with Les Labs? Here’s someone you should know – check out our Q&A series with a valued member of the Labs community and see why our amazing instructors, students, and team members choose to #learnwithlabs.
SF: First off, wishing you a huge welcome to the Labs Q&A series! First time here? Introduce yourself please!
JS: Hi everyone. I’m Jeff, proud instructor at Les Labs. I help people learn, understand, and leverage some of the most fundamental tools and concepts governing the digital world today. I cover topics including digital marketing, branding, SEO, crisis communications, and much more. I also work as the Corporate and Digital Communications Manager at CN, a world-class railway company headquartered in Montreal.
SF: Sounds like you have a great daytime job. So why teach?
JS: It is! Teaching is a challenging and fun way for me to share what I’ve learned about technology, marketing and communications with a diverse group of people. More and more people are showing interest in understanding and using all that new platforms and technology have to offer, and it’s a privilege for me to share what I’ve learned with them.
SF: “Digital Literacy” could have a number of different implications. What does it mean for you?
JS: To me digital literacy is about learning how to learn about the ever-changing tools and technologies woven into our personal and professional lives, and it’s about applying critical thought to their value, uses and implications. I think someone who is digitally literate is unafraid to take chances and maybe even break a few things so they can understand how they work to fix and ultimately improve them. I’ve found that many if not most skills in the digital world are transferrable from between devices and platforms, so when people learn the ins and outs of one tool well, in the end they’re also learning how to use similar tools.
SF: The subjects you are teaching seem valuable, but are they really sought-after in the current job market?
JS: Absolutely! Both job seekers and people who are already employed are actively seeking out opportunities to learn more about how to leverage the digital realities of today’s world.
SF: What skill(s) do you often notice are missing in people who are job-hunting for a marketing role?
JS: I think that while most people, including job-hunters, have a Facebook account and use Google, they don’t really know how either works. Marketers need to understand the mechanics of digital ad targeting and buying, search engine marketing and tailoring communications to different audiences on different platforms.
“Try everything. You can’t break the Internet, but you’ll never learn how it works if you don’t try.”
SF: Very cool. What attracted you to marketing in the first place?
JS: I’ve always enjoyed communications and technology, and I’ve found they intersect beautifully in the world of digital marketing. Platforms like Google and Facebook allow organizations and individuals to present their messages to highly targeted stakeholders, and understanding how to use these tools to everyone’s benefit is a passion.
SF: How important is digital literacy for the next generation?
JS: As our world becomes increasingly digital, I believe it will be more important than ever for people to understand how and why things work the way they do; otherwise they risk getting left behind. I think there’s a misconception that millennials or so-called digital natives possess a type of inherent digital literacy, but I don’t think that’s the case. The active pursuit and application of knowledge is not inherent to any generation.
SF: You also teach at McGill University. Assuming you don’t have thousands of hours to spare, why did you choose to also teach at Les Labs?
JS: I love the mission behind Les Labs, and I really believe I can share a value framework with the students. It energizes me to see people excited about the digital world.
SF: Got any words of wisdom to share with anyone looking to transform their skillset by engaging with all things digital?
JS: Try everything. You can’t break the Internet, but you’ll never learn how it works if you don’t try.