From Darlington With Love

The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, yeah. I had moseyed over to High Street Kensington to meet Dean from Total Media. A softly spoken, nearly-Geordie who had moved to London a month ago to start his career in Digtial Media proper.

darlington-town-centreDarlington Town Centre (with love)


I say start his career but Dean had already bagged a year in an agency in Darlington where he was managing two people and 40 accounts. Now a PPC Executive, had Dean taken a step back to make strides froward, what were his first impressions of the Big Smoke and what were his thoughts on the town he’d left behind?

Firstly I wanted to know if he felt that moving to London had meant he’d taken a step down on the digital ladder. Dean’s answer was a resounding “no”. It seems that working in an agency in Darlington doesn’t translate to a London agency and Dean was pleased to be learning new tech, being involved in a bigger agency and dealing with far larger clients. Already in is first few weeks he had begun working on British Lyon Eggs and Lenovo.

Further to that Dean was confident of moving back up the ladder fairly quickly especially in comparison to his previous agency. “In Darlington there is a lack of progression because the agencies are smaller, there is nothing like the hierarchy there is in London.” So by moving to London and ostensibly down the progression ladder he has actually opened up far greater opportunity to progress.

I thought it must be intimidating moving to the Big Smoke so wondered whether this was the case. “I thought everyone was going to be really smart.” Smart clever or smart smart? “Both!” As it it turns out this is not the case, there are just as many rapscallions and scallywags (probably more!) here as there are anywhere. We’re not so different you and I.

Dean has been pleasantly surprised with the atmosphere in his new London agency in comparison to the old. “We are actively encouraged to be more relaxed,” he said, and although of course he is expected to work hard, the social side of life is much more prevalent and encouraged. At 4pm on a Friday the beer trolley makes its welcome way around the office which is something that “would never happen in Darlington, Leeds or Newcastle”. Perhaps London agencies need to nurture their employees more because the jobs market is different. Smaller and fewer agencies in the North means there are fewer jobs available despite high demand so employees wield less power in the market.

Dean had mentioned other Northern cities and I decided to ask him why he thought they weren’t a viable option. The response was that, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester just “aren’t quite there”. He suggested that though they are growing digital hubs, agencies are still smaller and lagging behind slightly in terms of tech, plus the bigger presences there are mostly London based.

Now Dean had happily set up shop in London what did he think about his decision to move down South to progress in digital. He was loving it. Living in Clapham, exploring the city on the weekend and working in a great company. He left me with a bit of advice which was a nod to his Northern roots. More and more people are using internships as a way into digital but he suggested it was a great idea to learn your trade outside of London to give the you the knowledge and experience to start a career in the capital.

The sun had gone down and our talk had come to a fitting conclusion. Dean was off back to Clapham via Darlington and he wasn’t looking back.