Intern life – Kath checking in
3 months after leaving university, answering the dreaded ‘So what do you do?’ question with ‘I’m a graduate’ didn’t seem to hold as strongly as it once did. Instead of being met with the initial congratulatory graduation praise and the ‘you’ve got your whole life ahead of you’ speeches I grew accustomed to a mix of awkward pauses and confused expressions. With the fleeting optimism of leaving full-time education quickly passing, it was time for me to enter the rat race and for the job hunt to begin.
I knew my lack of experience would be a concern for most companies. Despite the stereotypical views associated with #internlife – making drinks and taking lunch orders – I was open to gaining as much experience as possible. After studying Business Management with Economics at university, I knew that I was interested in consumer behaviour but also enjoyed working with numbers. After many long days of consulting with Google – digital marketing seemed the best fit. At this point, I didn’t differentiate between in-house and agency, but East’s impressive client projects and dynamic nature made them hard to forget.
I remember very clearly during my second interview I was told that I’d initially be familiarising myself with East’s social media accounts. “Do you feel comfortable with that?” I was asked. Social Media – now that was something I was on board with. Relieved that I wasn’t completely out of my depth, I responded with an over-confident and resounding ‘Yes’, whilst also slightly confused that this was even a real interview question. I must’ve given the impression that I had lived under a rock for my formative years and not in the midst of a social media revolution. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d made my first mistake before I’d even started.
My new reality
When I first started as an intern at East I had no formal digital marketing experience – to be honest, my knowledge went as far as one marketing module at university will take you. With very little marketing awareness and experience under my belt, I had no idea what to expect and went in on Sunday morning with an open mind.
By the end of the week, I was exhausted, brain-dead and in awe. To be honest, I found myself facing a bit of an identity crisis, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t question what role I played a couple of times. I was surrounded by a group of driven and passionate individuals and a wealth of information that I didn’t really know what to do with. Regularly, dubbed a ‘Chatty Cathy’ amongst my friends, I found myself silenced by all the SEO, algorithm and SERP chatter that was so casually thrown around the office.
I was also wasting a valuable resource – the people around me.TWEET THIS
This leads me to something that I really had to get comfortable with, asking questions. Knowing you should be asking and actively doing so are two very different things. Initially, I had developed a habit of turning to Google whenever I heard an unknown term being discussed in the office. Whilst this helped my understanding with more straightforward questions, I realised that not only was I was taking a convoluted route that could be explained within minutes, but I was also wasting a valuable resource – the people around me.
Albeit most of my sentences beginning with ‘this may seem like a stupid question’, asking questions actually helped me feel more comfortable. East’s sense of instilling a learning culture in the workplace put me at ease, which in turn made me more confident talking about digital marketing. It’s very easy to nod your head in agreement at the risk of sounding dumb or not wanting to waste other people’s time. But as someone, somewhere once said, if you never ask, you’ll never know.
After all, doesn’t sitting in silence defeat the whole point of an internship? To set yourself apart, to learn and to show your willingness to venture out of your comfort zone.
Finding my groove
You don’t need to be working in digital to know the speed at which it evolves. Getting used to a new functionality only to realise it’s been changed in some way is the norm. My first five months were a lengthy process of adapting and then re-adapting everything I thought I knew about the online world. Things I took advantage as a regular user became revealed to me in a completely new light.
Case in point – Google. Who knew the amount of expertise that went into helping businesses reach that coveted spot on page 1 of the search engine? From competitive research to targeted keywords, I learnt and am still learning – effective SEO is an on-going job.
Let’s not get started on the social media I thought I knew so well. For businesses it’s a whole new kettle of fish; all you need is a quick browse through Facebook’s ‘ad-manager’ to see that.
Very few understand the strategic planning that goes into managing a social channel. Ensuring that fresh, relevant content is being shown to the right audience in the way that they want to see it is no easy task, especially when thousands of other companies are trying to do the same. To add to the complexity, the end-goal for using social media varies per client. For some, it’s to boost sales of a particular product whilst others are looking to build an online presence. Having an in-depth understanding of each brand is vital to its success and is an on going aspect of my role.
I’m personally not a fan of things becoming routine. If I find an aspect of my life is becoming predictable, I tend to compensate by switching up something else. With this in mind, the ever-changing nature of the industry is something that I particularly enjoy. Working with East mirrors the variety in the digital industry, in terms of the services that we offer, as well as the different clients that we work with. Although it can be demanding at times, it really means that no two days are the same. One day I could be creating exciting content for a client looking to boost traffic to a website, the next, I may be looking into data to uncover user patterns, identify trends and develop insights.
That’s a lot more than you thought right? And I’m only just scratching the surface.
The learning never ends
Ultimately, I’ve learnt much more than I can fit into a single blog post. As of today, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a day filming sports cars at the Bahrain International Circuit, been on location for a special client photo-shoot, given talks to students at St. Christopher’s School Bahrain and am in the process of overcoming my fear of public speaking. As an intern especially, being present everywhere and internalising these experiences is key.
Whether you’re fresh out of education and unsure of what to expect from full-time employment or are looking to enter the field, I hope my experience has helped to provide some useful insight into digital stratosphere.
What had started off as me looking for one-month stint turned into a 9-month position and now, a full-time job working as a Digital Marketing Executive. It took a lot of hard work and willingness to learn but thanks to the East team, the transition is one that is without a doubt shapeing my future for the better.
If you have any questions or just fancy a chat, feel free to email me at email@example.com.