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!
SM: Hi everyone. I’m Steve, proud instructor at Les Labs. I help people learn, understand, and utilize some of the most fundamental concepts governing the digital world today including web development, web design, UX, branding, and much more. I also work as a in the web department at Intelerad, a world-class medical software company in Montreal.
SF: Sounds like you have a great daytime job. So why teach?
SM: It’s about sharing, caring, and doing my best to help others, more than anything. Teaching is a way for me to give back to a community that has provided me with some exciting and positive career experiences. The digital community is built on sharing of knowledge and imparting that knowledge to others in a fun and positive way is energizing both for myself as well as the students. Ultimately, I have fun and I get to meet some awesome people while helping them get closer to their goals in a positive way.
SF: “Digital Literacy” could have a number of different implications. What does it mean for you?
SM: It means having the skills and confidence to adapt to a world that is under a constant state of rapid technological change. There isn’t one aspect of our modern lives that hasn’t been disrupted in some way and those changes will continue to affect our employment, our social/professional interactions, how we shop, how we are entertained, how we learn… everything. Digital literacy empowers us to embrace and understand the technology that influences our lives. Being literate means having more control to make informed decisions about how it’s used and how to use it to enhance our lives.
SF: The subjects you are teaching seem valuable, but are they really sought-after in the current job market?
SM: Yes, without a doubt. I always ask students what their motivation is for choosing to learn some of these web skills and most of the time it’s to make themselves more employable and to gain an advantage in the job market after testing the job search waters. There’s also a large percentage of people who are already employed but feel the need to enhance their skills and advance their careers. On the flip side, employers are now looking for versatility, adaptability, and for people who have a deeper understanding of the whole online/digital landscape. A good example of this is copywriters learning page layout applications to work with publishers more efficiently, graphic designers learning html/css programming to work better with developers, marketers learning analytics and SEO to have a more holistic approach to managing campaigns. This type of expanded skillset definitely makes a candidate stand out.
SF: What skill(s) do you often notice are missing in people who are job-hunting for a marketing role?
SM: In my experience, marketing professionals who have a basic understanding of digital production workflows tend to be more effective and get better results. They don’t have to be experts at everything but should know enough about the challenges designers, developers, and other digital producers face when putting together campaigns. User Experience skills are also becoming a necessity, marketers who put themselves at all the different customer touch points improve the reach and loyalty of their client base.
“Digital Literacy means having the skills and confidence to adapt to a world that is under a constant state of rapid technological change.”
SF: Very cool. What attracted you to marketing in the first place?
SM: Proximity, curiosity, and a desire for professional growth. I spent most of my early career on the production side of things – design, coding, etc. I worked mostly with and in marketing teams and, over time, became increasingly more interested in the bigger enterprise picture and how it all works together. It continues to be an exciting field because there are always new things that can be learned and every new technology that takes off provides more opportunities to play with something new.
SF: You also teach at Concordia University. Assuming you don’t have thousands of hours to spare, why did you choose to also teach at Les Labs?
SM: I believe in the vision the founders have and welcome the opportunity to be part of it. Their agile and adaptable approach along with their industry know-how is a recipe for success that will benefit everyone who takes courses at Les Labs. Hearing success stories and seeing people empowered by new skills is its own reward, if I can help with that in any way it’s a bonus.
SF: Got any words of wisdom to share with anyone looking to transform their skill-set by engaging with all things digital?
SM: Be patient, some technical challenges may seem insurmountable but if broken down into manageable tasks in a methodical way, anything can be learned. Practice. A lot, especially in the beginning. Planning and preparation is half the battle. The most important thing, though, is to remember to have fun!