When Stephen Reid graduated from Bournemouth University in 1994, he could have no idea of the job he would be doing nearly 30 years later.
Having started out in magazine journalism following his BA (Hons) Communication degree, Stephen’s career has followed since the growth of the internet and today he works in California as a Community Manager for Facebook Gaming.
Stephen said: “People talk about the graduates of today training for the jobs of tomorrow, and that has certainly been the case for me. When I graduated, the world wide web was just coming into being and social media was still a way off. Whilst I couldn’t have predicted where my career would take me, I have been able to make the most of the opportunities thanks to the core communication skills which I developed at university.”
Stephen was among the students to join BU while it was still a polytechnic, and graduate in the first years after it had become a university.
He recalls: “I remember thinking at the time that this felt like a pretty good deal. There was certainly a sense of change happening around us, with the campus developing and new buildings beginning to take shape. While many students still lived in hotels around the town, I was lucky to join one of the houses in the Student Village which gave me my first taste of living independently and the challenge of cooking for myself!
“My dad had attended a more traditional university and had led me to believe that we would all be sitting down to dinner in the dining room every night. I soon realised this was not going to be the case and quickly had to get some tips from my housemates on cooking pasta.”
Stephen has fond memories of the social scene of the early 90s, which included drinking Stella Artois in friends’ student houses (chosen because it offered the best cost to alcohol ratio) and helping to run the university film club. This involved loading up VHS tapes to watch on a large TV and producing posters and flyers using the now discontinued PageMaker desktop publishing platform.
As he approached the end of his studies, Stephen began scouring the pages of Monday’s Media Guardian as the ‘go-to’ source of graduate jobs. He passed up an offer to write the listings for a mail order catalogue and instead became an editorial assistant on the recently launched PC Pro magazine. After five years – and having progressed to become the magazine’s Reviews Editor – Stephen made his move into the online world with a role at AOL and then Sony PlayStation.
Having gone on to work for other games companies, he now combines his expertise in communication and knowledge of gaming as a Community Manager for Meta (Facebook). The role acts as a key liaison between publishers and the community that grows around their games – generating interest, handling feedback and suggesting improvements.
Stephen said: “The role encompasses writing, editing, social media, project and event management. It’s multi-faceted but at the core it relies on effective communication, whether that’s written, verbal or visual. I can remember crafting my presentation skills at university, using acetates on an overhead projector to present to the class. I continue to do presentations as part of my job almost daily, and while the technology has changed those fundamental skills have not.”