Meet Ashleigh – Our Ambassador from Newcastle
17th July 2017
Hi! I’m Ashleigh and I’m 25 years old from Newcastle! Read my story and top tips for getting into the world of digital.
I was one of those creative, crafty kids when I was younger, constantly asking for things to make and looking for ways to be creative. A life changing moment came when I got my first desktop PC (back in the day when your parents would shout at you because they needed the phone)! When I was about 11 years old, I started to play around with photo editing programs and started to learn basic HTML in order to adapt my favourite online game at the time, Neopets, as I wanted to have the coolest profile around!
I never really knew what I wanted to do when I got older, but after gaining an A grade in my IT GCSE, I thought that this subject was the best route to go down as I really enjoyed working with computers. I then went on to study Information Technology at my local college. The course consisted of a very tech based curriculum, however one module was different. In this module we had to design and create a website; I loved the creative aspect of this part of the course, so much so that I ended up quitting the course after the first year and enrolling onto the art & design course where I took my first steps into the world of graphic design.
I graduated from Northumbria University in 2014 and straight away got my first job in a graphic design agency. However I ended up leaving after around 8 months to focus on freelance work after realising that not all agencies were creative! My mam gave me some great advice at the time, which was “Would you rather work somewhere you don’t like and be miserable, or get less money and be happy?” That gave me the push to go ahead with my freelancing, not knowing if it was going to work out or not!
After freelancing for around 2 years, I’ve now taken the next step and decided to create my own agency called stop. – The name came from the idea that design and branding should make people stop, and if it doesn’t – then what’s the point in it? I’m also enrolled onto a program called Entrepreneurial Spark, an accelerator program powered by NatWest that helps you grow and develop your business alongside lots of other like-minded people and a wide variety of different businesses!
Our work has been featured on This Morning and in Harper’s Bazaar and earlier this year we were contacted by Jonathan from National Coding Week about becoming an ambassador after he saw the work we had created for NorthCoders – A Northern based coding camp.
So while I may not be a coder myself, I do work with web developers on website designs and work with tech companies such as NorthCoders on their branding. It was really fun to work with them, researching the coding industry to create a consistent brand around coding & the North.
We can’t wait for stop. to become a respected design agency up here in Newcastle and beyond! We are currently in the very early stages, but wish to grow the business by hiring creatives and developers to help us continue creating great work. So keep an eye out! It would be great if you could follow us on our journey via following us on social media (@startwithstop). We will continue to use design to make people laugh, make people cry, make people think, make people stop.
National Coding Week
I was very surprised to be asked by Jonathan to be the Newcastle ambassador for National Coding Week, especially since I don’t have much experience in coding. However I’m very excited to see how I can creatively work with local tech companies and coders to create some really fun and interesting events so we can introduce people to coding.
My Top Tips for getting into tech industries
1) Work placements – everybody knows it’s hard to get that first job with no experience, so get out into the real world by contacting your favourite companies to see if they offer work placements. That way you can get some real-life industry experience on your CV.
2) Network – go to as many networking events as you can and make sure you have some really cool business cards to hand out! You never know who you’re going to meet and what connections you could make. Events such as National Coding Week are also a great way to make new connections. They’re always fun too and sometimes you can even get free pizza! Check out apps such as Eventbrite to see what’s on near you.
3) Create – even if you haven’t quite found the perfect job yet, still create and code in your spare time. That way you can get some experience under your belt as well as creating a strong portfolio of work. Also, ask around to see if anybody needs a website which you could help them with. That way you can see your work in the real world whilst building your portfolio.
Good luck !