Bright Lights & Late Nights

Digital Media.

I’m going to move to London and work in Digital Media.


I was getting curious again. Having lived in London all my life the thought of dedicating the rest of it to this city isn’t a particularly tough decision. I’m already home.

The reality of the situation is that London contains the highest number of digital agencies in the UK and therefore the most opportunity to find work. I wanted to know how simple a decision it is to leave your home, move to London and then once here, firmly embedded in your new company, what life is like.

I spoke to Matt from Sunderland who works in Content & Media and has lived here now for a year.

Matt’s decision was a fairly easy one because he knew what he wanted to do for a living, that London represented his best chance of doing that, and many of his friends were either considering a move or had already moved down to the Big Smoke. It wasn’t the easiest ride as he ended up staying in a hotel for a week, kipping on a friend’s floor and eating McDonald’s every night for a week before he finally got set up with a flat and a job.

What should you be prepared for that perhaps you wouldn’t expect? As well as its culture, restaurant scene and night life, London is the home of astronomical rent. Be prepared to pay through the nose for a room that’s just about big enough for a double bed and if you’re lucky a bedside table. London is big. Be prepared to travel for up to an hour in the morning to get to work. Lastly be prepared to quickly become that person on the tube that tuts if someone gets on before letting you off, tuts when people stand on the wrong side of the escalator or tuts when someone, heaven forbid, walks slowly.

So you’ve made it. You have your flat, you have your travel tutting and you have your job in digital media. Have a look at my blog to find out what you’ll be doing when at work but I wanted to know about lifestyle, such as what the hours are like? Will you have time to visit Big Ben and paint Fabric red?

Matt works fairly long hours and from my experience this is a relatively common story. He tends to get in at 8am and leave around 6pm. His contracted hours are 9.30am to 5.30pm but there are some benefits to coming in early. By getting in at 8am he misses the morning rush hour and says the start to the day is far more relaxed. Plus of course he can get more done and leave earlier rather than later. If you get your work done you are of course free to leave (within reason!).

Matt brought up something he hears occasionally: if you come in early and leave late it means you are not productive and cannot manage your time. This is simply not the case in digital media. You can plan out your day efficiently and effectively but if at 3pm a new piece of business comes in and you need to work on a pitch then your day-to-day work is out the window and it will not be uncommon to work a 12 hour day. Matt doesn’t see this negatively though, this is what digital media is all about! The rush, the pitch, the deadlines the creation of ideas and strategies!

Job satisfaction? Matt works in Content and for him there is nothing better than being asked to come up with an idea, that being signed off and then working hard on it for the rest of the day. He loves his job! This is not work, this is why he moved to London, why he put up with hotels, a friend’s sofa and McDonald’s. Sometimes he has to come in early and work late but it is all part and parcel of a job that he loves.

So London has been kind to Matt so far, it doesn’t come without its difficulties – in fact Matt is spending Christmas here this year as he needs to work until quite close to the big day itself and it doesn’t make sense to commute from Sunderland – but it’s an amazing city, full of opportunity both professionally and socially.

It seems that for Matt the bright lights are worth those late nights but is he here to stay? I suppose we’ll find out.

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