It was the middle of December 2014 when I started working with LocalTrifecta Internet Marketing agency. With the weather changing from winter to spring, my 4 months of internship agreement has come to an end in the middle of April 2015. Before joining here, I was a full time student of the MBA program at Beedie School of Business in Vancouver. I continue to be a student, but having successfully completed 4 months of internship, I am now officially eligible to graduate in June this year. As exciting as graduation may be, currently I am feeling the sorrow of parting from my colleagues.
In this blog post, I will attempt to summarize my entire internship experience...reflecting on the work, people, culture and training.
The Wake-Up Call
One of the most important things wise old men tell me is to choose a job that you are excited to wake up for. I take this advice very seriously and can speak with certainty that for the last 4 months, I have woken up excited on majority of the days. I look forward to seeing my colleagues at the office, checking my email and Slack messages, and participating in the daily huddles where we discuss priorities for the day. There are times when the nature of work may be dull, but the vibrant culture in our office keeps us smiling through the toughest of sails.
The most important asset of this company is its people. Without elaborating on each individual's personality and turning this blog post into a novel/thesis or a controversy, let me share some selective interesting facts:
- The average age between the 7 of us who regularly work from the office is around 30. This includes the founder who is in his early 40’s.
- Between the 7 of us, we represent 6 different ethnic backgrounds - Japan, China, Malaysia, Iran, India and Portugal.
- Some of us were more suited for movies and some more for politics. A career change maybe on the cards in distant future, for some.
- Our heights range from 5 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 3 inches.
- Not everyone here is a Canucks fan.
On a serious note, every person here is skilled, knowledgeable, motivated, trustworthy, and above all, extremely helpful. Together, we have shared an excellent work relationship.
Sharpening The Axe
Abraham Lincoln had famously quoted - ‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.’
Learning to manage and optimize digital assets is a key skill set to succeeding as a marketer in this era. Joining the internship program at LocalTrifecta Internet Marketing agency was a calculated decision on my part. I was initially apprehensive of how I would fit in, but it was incredible how well the company accommodated a new recruit and how quickly I felt comfortable and became a contributing member of the team.
Training is an essential element of the internship program and my colleagues never shied away from teaching. I was pleasantly surprised when I requested a training session in the last two days of my internship and it was not turned down. The best part is that you get trained with the opportunity to get hands-on-practice while getting paid for it.
I am sharing a list of some of the topics covered in the training module:
- Inbound Marketing with an introduction to all 6 channels within it - Search, Blogs, Content, Emails, Pay-per-click, and Social Media.
- Organic link building and broken link building via outreach
- Optimization for local search
- Web hosting
- Blog post optimization
- Google Webmaster tools & Google Analytics
- Site page improvements
- Content marketing key performance indicators and strategy
- Social media management and strategy
This is not an exhaustive list as I learned a number of other skills and tactics while faced with unique challenges on client accounts. Many a times, small jobs were tasked to me while being given an understanding of the reasoning behind the tactics. This opened my eyes to a range of challenges and workarounds.
For example, a company had it’s website hacked multiple times despite having changed their web hosting domain server and login information. The client had no alternative but to build a new website. I learned how to de-index every site page of that website from Google and Bing. This is an important pre-step to avoid the new site from getting penalized.
Hands On Deck
I have already spoken of how the training was complemented by hands-on experience. In the 4 months here, I have had the chance to work on every training topic that I mentioned earlier.
Outside of that, being that this is a start-up and that the company is in a stage of self-discovery and growth, I had the opportunity to manage my own secret projects. These are initiatives that I was able to take to improve on the companies operational efficiencies. The following are the main projects that I was in charge of:
Managing citations (online business listings) was one of my main projects and one that added direct value to our clients. Before I came here, we were doing a rather ordinary job in managing this project and it needed to be ramped up. My job was to learn everything about citation building and create a system and a training module such that any new recruit could pick-up from where I left off. Now, we have a clearly laid out system to manage information, achieve consistency, and save a lot of valuable time. The system has been documented in the form of a powerpoint presentation and has been tested with a new intern that we hired.
I could go on speaking about this project endlessly, but I have spoken of this in my previous blog posts and have published a blog post specifically on this topic. Hence, I’ll spare you more details.
Internet marketing is all about managing information. With loads of spreadsheets, documents, images, account logins etc, it was important to have it managed in a way that it is secure and easily accessible. I created a spreadsheet with all of our clients listed there, the scope of service provided to each and the people responsible for the various services. This spreadsheet was also linked to various important documents/spreadsheets that relate to the various services. My hope is that long after I am gone, this spreadsheet will continue to serve the needs of the business.
Sending out monthly reports to clients is a process that I am tightly integrated with. It has helped me gain an in-depth understanding of all the services we provide to each of our clients. It has also allowed me to dig into data and make sense of the numbers. Reporting to clients is an important aspect of agency operations, and I consider myself fortunate to have been trusted with this responsibility.
I prepared PowerPoint training slides for each of the training sessions that I received. These were created to improve the induction process for a new intern/recruit.
Time Flies When You Are Having Fun
My father used to say, ‘Do what you like or like what you do. If you choose your hobby as your profession, you will never feel like you are working.’
Personally, I really enjoy marketing. Working at an agency has been a refreshing experience as one is always thinking of ways to add value to clients, thinking about what can we do better and what else can we do. It’s exciting to evaluate the results of your actions, keep informed of the latest trends and look to apply new techniques to maximize returns. A lot of our time goes into execution but we constantly exchange great articles and share ideas that can improve results.
When managing multiple clients with varying expectations, internal operations can sometimes turn chaotic. The owner of the agency clearly understands the value of creating efficient operations and this company has come a long way in finding order within the chaos. There continues to be scope for improvement in the way certain activities are managed. But I have felt a sense of satisfaction knowing that I have played a role in helping the company progress towards becoming a more robust organization.
Someone once said it’s not the geography but the people that make a country. Similarly, it’s not the location but the employees that make a company. Despite not being a lavish office in an exotic location, I must say that I have been thrilled to walk through the doors of this office every day - all credit to the wonderful people here. It feels like just the other day when I had come to the office to interview and met every one. They were all strangers back then, but not anymore.
It has been very pleasing to be acknowledged for my efforts by my colleagues and I will continue to be engaged with the company on a part-time basis to see certain projects through to the finish. I have also been given the liberty to take independent initiatives in designing tools and processes to add to operational efficiencies. Although this is the end of the internship, this is not a closure as I will continue to cherish and nurture the relationships that I have established here.