On Wednesday 21st February, eSterling’s Commercial Manager, Wave White and SEO Content Writer, Alice Hindson-Matthews visited Cadbury Sixth Form College in King’s Norton to talk to students there about how a Digital Marketing Agency operates. Here’s how they got on.

Taking a field day from the office, we were invited into the college to talk to students on their Digital Design and Development T-Level course about our work as a Digital Marketing Agency.

Since this sector is a broad spectrum, we gave a brief overview of website design, front-end and back-end development, SEO, PPC, content creation and social media management. The students were engaged and asked thoughtful questions, and it was a pleasure to share some industry knowledge and personal experiences with them.

Highlights included conversations about the barriers that women in the technology sector face, which are slowly but surely being eroded, and about Artificial Intelligence. These young minds were excited to learn about all kinds of algorithms and machine learning,

An LLM Turing Test in Person

To see how familiar the students were with AI Large Language Models such as ChatGPT, we shared some example statements and asked them to identify whether the author was human or AI.

For Example: can you tell the difference?

“Enter the realm of light accessory heroes, your champions against the shadows and missed moments.”

“Discover our extensive range of water bottles designed to keep you hydrated on-the-go while expressing your unique personality. From sleek stainless steel bottles to vibrant and eco-friendly options, we’ve curated a collection that caters to every taste and lifestyle!”

“P355NL steel is a fine-grain, low-alloy steel composed of high carbon and minimal sulphur.”

(Answers: AI, AI, Human.)

The aim of this was to illustrate that while LLMs can write, it’s not necessarily good writing. When the students could tell a statement was written by AI, the reasons they gave were:

  • It sounded “distant” from the subject
  • It “didn’t make sense”
  • It was “too long”
  • The tone was “fantastical”

Like many commentators, the students saw that AI content often misses the mark, particularly in sales.

“Painfully Generic”

I wanted to show the students that when a person knows the subject well, it shows through details and depth in their writing. AI-generated text, on the other hand, is painfully generic.
If we can identify the differences, then so can teachers, audiences and potential customers.

Gaining an audience’s trust is a key part of marketing, and can’t be achieved with generic AI copy.

Women in Tech – Understanding the Barriers as Social and Societal

We also had a positive discussion on women in the technology industry. According to TechNation, women held just 26% of positions in the UK technology sector in 2023, and growth since has stalled since 2021.

Despite being heavily involved in early computing and the legwork of programming, women are now in a disastrously unequal position, particularly among back-end developers. College staff shared with us that they were having difficulty getting girls to enrol on the Digital Development course – without proper training, progress will continue to be slow.

It is crystal clear to us, as employers keen to hire a diverse team, that the barriers to entry occur well before the interview stage. In a 2023 report, Women in Tech UK found that 22% of people think the key reasons are early misconceptions and a lack of STEM education for young girls, with male dominationfewer progressions to senior positions also getting more than 15% of the responses.

We celebrate the efforts and achievements of organisations such as GirlsWhoCode and Women in Tech Brum, and we are finding ways to continue contributing to this progress as an organisation.

Supporting T-Levels and Placements

Visiting the college was a good opportunity for us to learn about the new qualification: T-Levels. These are a midpoint between purely academic A Levels and experience-led apprenticeships that meet the needs of industries like ours brilliantly.

While our roles are too complex to teach apprentices everything from scratch, students benefit from industry experience early on, and a degree is also not necessary. T-Level qualifications give students 45 days in industry placements as well as classroom learning and examination.

Building relationships with colleges and sharing industry knowledge is critical to keeping this sector running in Birmingham. As developments continue to accelerate, we are all continually learning and experimenting. Giving talks like this is one way we can share and inspire our future colleagues.

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