BU fully supported me and provided lots of extra-curricular opportunities… I wouldn’t be in the position I am now without them”
Ashley Firth originally joined BU as a law student, but his long-standing passion for creating content led him to change courses and study Interactive Media Production instead.
“I came for an open day and just fell in love with the whole place. The campus was excellent, it’s a beautiful clean town with a good student culture and really welcoming and relaxing feel to it. When I decided to switch from law to media, I wanted to stay at BU because of the incredible media school and BU’s investment in that area. I also loved the fact I was able to try everything from web development to game design, and also to collaborate with students from the TV production and scriptwriting courses.
“BU also provided me with a lot of extra-curricular opportunities which made my time at BU even more valuable. I was a peer-assisted learning coordinator supporting new first years on my course, a presenter on SUBU’s ‘Nerve' radio station, and a student ambassador."
The switch in courses and broad range of activities have definitely paid off for Ashley, who graduated BU in 2012 with a first class honours degree and an award for best final year student. He then walked in to his first job with Fishrod Interactive - a company created by fellow BU graduate Gavin Williams - after completing a six week placement there as part of his course.
"I was the first in my family to go to university so graduating with a first was one of the hardest things I've ever done but the thing that I am most proud of in my career so far.
“It involved a lot of long nights, and teaching myself new skills outside of my studies. My lecturers were so helpful, telling me where to focus my efforts and providing feedback on projects I created outside of the curriculum. My final year project, Gigabit, helped bring promoters and unsigned musicians together to create gigs and fill empty slots on cards - it was used to bring a lot of gigs to life."
Over the past five years Ashley has been creating innovative and digital solutions for the likes of global organisations World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Budweiser, Walkers, Carlsberg and Sky.
"I've had the chance to travel to different countries working with World Wrestling Entertainment, helped create a permanent installation in London’s O2 arena with Sky, and worked with Budweiser at the last FA Cup final. I then moved to agency Tangent Snowball in central London to work as a front-end developer creating digital solutions and CRM campaigns for the likes of The Labour party, SAP, Walkers, Carlsberg, and Sky".
Those experiences have led Ashley to take a slightly different direction in his career and he now heads up the front-end development team of the start-up Octopus Energy. A year ago, there were just eight people employed there, and now there are about 50 working for this growing business.
“Octopus Energy is a new entrant to the energy market, investing in solar energy in the UK. We’re focused on bringing great value renewable energy to customers through tech innovation and with great customer support. The digital solution we have built allows users to compare tariffs and provides a daily breakdown of price as well as details such as distribution, environmental and social considerations.”
When asked for some final words of advice, he said: “Follow your instincts, even when it feels scary. You’ll know when you’ve found something you love to do every day, just don’t stop searching for it – oh and I’m always on the look-out for bright graduates to take on!”
Having valued alumni talks while studying his course, Ashley returns to BU occasionally to talk about life after university and companies interested in taking on graduates so be sure to say hello if you see him around campus.
Find out more about Media and Communication courses at BU.