Thursday, 26 September 2013

Find a job with MARQme - Alex Whitfield's awesome new iPhone app

MARQme app for the iPhone
Bucks animation student Alex Whitfield graduated this summer and has just completed an excellent new iPhone app, designed to help recent graduates find employment. In a job environment that remains a continual challenge, recent grads can use all the help they can get to kick-start their careers. We asked Alex to tell us all about his new creation, and how to take advantage of it.

Bucks: You have just created a new app - what does it do and why did you create it?

AJW:  I’m a recent Graduate, and as such I have a couple routes to employment: a non-specialist job in the public or private sectors, or my specialist Degree route. Finding a way into employment is quite tough, and it’s harder when you live ‘out in the sticks’, where you rely so heavily on local sources and the internet. Even for me, where I have major recruiters located fairly locally, it’s still difficult to know if I’m getting the best opportunities from them.

The other reason the app came about is because is interested in eliminating paperwork, speeding processes up, making life easier for the end user, and creating a unique autonomous platform that secures your information. Much wizardry there, but what this means in this instance is, as students:

• We fill in our information once;
• Grant access to it once;
• Then update it once if need be.

You don’t need to resubmit, you don’t need to make appointments, you don’t need to incur travel costs, and you don’t need to waste time or be caught out.

In principle, this is how it works: you go to your online profile, fill in your CV/Covering Letter details (copy & paste from your recent application), and save it. Over time, Universities will populate your education section themselves so you don’t need to. Then you open up the mobile app, select your chosen agencies of interest, select from a list of information to which you want agencies to have access, and then grant that access. Job done. Whenever you make a change online, it updates for everyone you’ve chosen to have access to your details.

From there, what it does is standardise the input format on the agency’s side, populate the recruiter’s form, and match you to appropriate jobs. They always ask for the same information: name, age, date of birth, address, NIN, etc., so we wanted to do it once. Call us lazy, but why do the same task twice?

To help answer your question, I just asked why I was involved in this process and they replied:

“Because your skills and needs help give insight into the product which refines the process from a user's perspective”.
Visual Development art by Alex Whitfield
Bucks: What technical skills went into making it?

AJW: The core programs: Photoshop, AfterEffects and Premiere Pro were all used to create this app demo. Individual assets were created in Photoshop; AE was used for the animation, which, after all the assets had been imported, took the better part of 2-3 weeks solid to complete.

I used Premiere Pro for the final output and for syncing the audio.

The technical skills involved were Corporate Web Design, UX (User Experience), animation and ‘User Journey’/Storyboarding. UX played such a massive role in this app demo, because when combined with animation we felt like we were designing an interface for an upcoming movie! A lot of our inspiration comes from films like The Island and Minority Report, so we had to get the transition timing right, while remaining faithful to the media, to achieve an engaging video.

Another technical skill would be communication. It’s one thing talking to colleagues and even clients, but we had to outsource the voice over section to a local studio, and it was my job to oversee the process to get the right output. That was definitely technical – the terminology in that industry is very different from my usual Photoshop design work! After that, all audio editing happened in Premiere Pro.

Digital Landscape by Alex Whitfield
Bucks: How difficult is it for graduates to find work in the current climate?

AJW: It really does depend on the line of work you’re pursuing I’d say. For me, I’ve chosen a specialism that has almost no base in my local area, which opens some options to me: relocate or start the base.

I would say the current climate has been pretty constant for a good decade; the competition has always been there. But now, with online applications growing, the scope is broader so the chance of rejection letters increases with it. It is difficult, and it can be truly disheartening for those who live far from a multitude of resources.

Design by Alex Whitfield

Bucks: What advice would you give to students at Bucks in making themselves employable?

AJW: As the Irish say, ‘Have a bit of brass cheek’! Meaning talk yourself into places, get chatting with people who seem ‘high up’ because they’ll remember you, and go for things that others would not. I’m often accused of ‘talking the hind legs off donkeys’, but it pays to leave a positive, lasting impression through your enthusiasm.

You must be real about your direction, flexible about how you get there and with whom, confident you can adapt (most jobs require a very similar set of skills, so find some patterns!); seriously push yourself to learn a specific skill and you MUST develop a repeatable method to produce a given outcome. A big failure of mine at Uni was not having a strong method, which I identified and have since resolved. Do it early!

Lastly, whether you’re in a heaving city, a quaint little village or out in the middle of nowhere, remember to keep looking to tomorrow, play the system, and believe in the things you have achieved. Take advice, and always remember: 'if they can do it, then so can you'.

(Editor's Note: You can see Alex explain how the app works in detail, here at YouTube:)


For more impressive work done by our students and recent graduates here at Bucks, check out SuperFergy in 3D by Anton Alfy, see the work of Jens KopkeBen Gray's Moonbeam, and the architectural visualisations of Sabah Masood and Anton Alfimenko. Also take a look at the work of Andy Thomas here, see our latest commercial project for Rocketseed, our short film done for a global aid agency, and take a look at the excellent work of designer Monika Dzikowicz, architectural visualisation specialist Krsytof Michalski, Alex Whitfield and the 3D artwork of Mike Swan. And don't forget to see the simulation work of our students done in RealFlow. To see our student demo reel, click here.

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