We met with Catalyst alumni, Steve Clesham to talk about his journey of being on Catalyst and what he’s getting up to now at PR & Marketing Agency, Kenyons.
Hey, Steve. Can you tell us a bit about you an your background?
I’ve come into the digital industry via a pretty circuitous route — I was in academia as a geologist for a few years then had a stint of teaching before deciding on a pretty radical change in careers. I have always had a casual interest in the industry though, and had considered it a couple of times over the year so when I decided I wanted a change… My first idea was to try and get into digital.
What was it that made you apply to be a part of Catalyst?
I set out with the aim of learning web development, and started taking a few online and offline courses. It was pretty daunting to see how I would continue as I had zero experience of the industry going forward and didn’t really know how I was going to get a start with actually finding a job. So Catalyst was just the sort of thing I needed; giving a chance to learn some great things and meet like-minded people, as well as start to build up contacts in the industry.
What was your favourite experience during Catalyst?
Ah so many to choose from — it was a really diverse programme! I think the last two weeks, which involved an Innovation Sprint, really highlighted and brought together everything that we’d worked on over the last 8 weeks. It was really rewarding getting a decent chance to go through a project, from initial ideas and concepts through to a mock-pitch and presentation of a proposed product.
Was there anything about the programme that surprised you?
It was amazing how easy it was to settle into the programme and to feel really excited about each week. It can be a bit unnerving trying something completely new but it was just really enjoyable from the start.
A lot of the programme focuses on the creative and digital sector here in Liverpool. What makes you want to stay in the city?
Areas like the Baltic Triangle are a really exciting example of how a city can promote innovative companies and small businesses, particularly those in the creative and digital industries, whilst also providing some sense of permanence and security long term for those involved. It’s really great to see it expand and be a successful entity alongside some of the more conventional businesses in the city centre. But importantly, I feel like the industry in Liverpool is still very much expanding, and is far from reaching its peak, so there’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm around it.
So, what are you up to now after finishing the programme?
I’m now working as a front-end developer at Kenyons. This means I’m taking concepts and designs for websites and turning them into working products. We produce a lot of our sites at the moment on WordPress, which rather than just being an accessible tool for people to build their own websites, actually allows us to produce completely customised designs and functionality, whilst also offering clients a clean easy-to-manage admin area to maintain the site and its content once our work is over.
How did you get the role at Kenyons?
I met some of the Kenyons team directly through a workshop they delivered for Catalyst. I think they were really excited by the scheme and impressed at how well some of us were developing in the course, so when a position for a developer opened up they decided to offer it directly to the Catalyst participants. I applied for the role, and met with Rosie and Andy for an informal interview. After discussing my experience on Catalyst, and things I’d been working on in my free time, they were happy enough to offer me the position that same day!
Amazing! Finally, what would be your message to future Catalyst students?
Get stuck in straight away. The more engaged you are with the programme, and the more willing you are to take part, the more you’ll get out of it.