I am a firm believer in hands-on-learning so to support my education, I am always searching for experience in the ‘real world’. Over the past four months my marketing internship at ElementIQ has given me just that.
In my ‘Week of Firsts’ blog post, I spoke about the journey I was about to embark on by taking part in ElementIQ’s marketing internship program. What a journey it was!
During my time at ElementIQ I have learned how to create SEO-friendly website content; starting with the ever-important keyword research. I have managed social media content calendars for clients and been taught the ins and outs of email marketing. I even got to delve into the world of account management; something I never thought I would get the opportunity to do as a mere ‘intern’.
But that’s exactly why a marketing internship with ElementIQ is different. Instead of sitting in the background and observing, you are thrown headfirst into client work (after several weeks of training). You know you are supported by the team who are only a Slack message or quick Zoom call away for any questions you might have.
As my internship comes to an end, I’ve enjoyed having the chance to reflect on what I’ve learned over the past four months.
Here are my key takeaways from my remote marketing internship with ElementIQ:
Connecting with your team is important
I must admit, I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for remote working. Especially as someone who learns by watching and enjoys the social aspect of the office environment. However, the team at ElementIQ made sure to stay connected through short daily huddles, weekly meetings and the occasional socially distanced hang out – which included a competitive game of Piñata!
I quickly realized that you can still get a lot out of a remote internship, but you do have to put the time and effort in. Make sure to ask questions when you need to and put yourself forward to learn new things outside of your comfort zone. If you do this, you’ll get a lot from your internship.
Don’t be afraid to get it wrong
Remember that you’re an intern and the reason you’re there is to learn from some of the industry’s best. For the first couple of tasks I was assigned, I was so hung up on the idea that my work might not be good enough that I was nervous to ask for it to be reviewed.
Once you get over this, you actually realize that two brains are better than one. That means that most of the time, it’s beneficial to brainstorm with another team member or have them look over your work before it goes to client review. After all, as an intern you are there to learn and your teammates are there to support you and help you do just that.
You can never stop learning
Diving into the world of digital marketing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I used to get overwhelmed wondering how I would ever get my break in the industry with the little knowledge I had.
After Sam and the team had taken a chance on this keen student fresh from a BrainStation crash course, I realized that this is the perfect industry if you enjoy learning. The only way you can stay on top of digital marketing trends and Google’s ever-changing algorithm (which I learned induces a lot of eye rolls in the industry) is to engage in lifelong learning.
You can do this by reading blogs, such as the ElementIQ one, joining forums, and signing up to insightful newsletters. I even had the opportunity to attend the first virtual MozCon during my internship where I learned a bunch of new tactics that I could share with the team.
Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash
Your ideas are valued
No matter how insignificant I thought it was, whenever I voiced my opinion on a process it was taken into account. This was something I really appreciated throughout my internship and I enjoyed helping the team improve some processes. It really made me feel as though I had an impact.
I was always treated as a peer and a part of the team. I think this is the most important thing to look for when searching for an internship. It allows you to exercise your critical thinking as well as your creativity and not be afraid to share it with your team.
So you’re thinking of applying?
There are many other aspects that made my internship at ElementIQ such a great time. Weekly dress ups, seeing my content on the world wide web and pressing send on my first email campaign to name a few.
It’s likely that you’re on this page because you’re searching for a marketing internship in Vancouver yourself. If you want to work in a place where you and your learning are supported; I can guarantee ElementIQ is the place for you.
In 2012, I had a big choice to make: head to university or move to Canada for the adventure of a lifetime. I bravely chose the latter. After some hard-work and saving in 2013, I packed my bags and said bye to my friends and family in the UK for 1 year. The original 1 year turned out to be 3 and a half and included living in and travelling to various countries.
The time I had taken away from school really allowed me to discover where my passions were and where I wanted to end up. I knew I wanted to go back to school and live in Vancouver, the rest I would figure out along the way.
A couple of months into university in 2017, I realized my dream of becoming a digital marketer. If you’re on this blog post, you’re probably considering this yourself. That means you probably know that the path to getting a career in digital marketing isn’t as simple as saying you want to do it and then getting it done.
Most entry-level positions require 1-2 years of experience and a wealth of subject knowledge. I knew to get ahead I would have to find someone willing to take a chance on this self-confessed digital marketing nerd with a desire to learn.
With COVID-19 just ramping up here on the West Coast, I was just about giving up on my hopes of securing digital marketing work experience over the summer. Then stepped in Sam and the team at ElementIQ. It was late one Wednesday afternoon when I came across them on Instagram.
I immediately checked out their website and saw that they were a digital marketing agency in Vancouver, who actively hired interns. I sent a quick message asking if there were any opportunities and got invited to send an application through their website. Was this fate? Excited to find out, I eagerly sent my resume and cover letter through.
A couple of Zoom interviews later, I was invited to join ElementIQ’s small but mighty team as a remote intern, alongside another successful applicant. Here is how my first week unfolded:
Day One – My First Day
Nervous and excited to start my first remote day at ElementIQ, I logged on to Zoom at 10:00am to meet with Andrea and Patricia (the intern I would be working alongside).
The day began with Andrea introducing us to all the tools that they use to communicate and create efficiency. We set up our company emails and got acquainted with Teamwork, Slack, and general practices that the team uses to organize themselves. It’s fair to say that my head was spinning and I knew I would need to get hands-on practice to get used to these tools.
Andrea then told us that she had arranged for us to have 1 on 1’s with each team member. This was daunting at first but I quickly realized how friendly and supportive the team was. Even though we are only able to connect virtually right now, I really appreciated getting the chance to know everyone individually, as well as what makes each of them tick,
Day Two – My First Daily Huddle
Tuesday began with my first 15-minute daily huddle. Each team member takes turns to share their wins, blockers (external things that are preventing them from moving forward) and big rocks (tasks) for the day.
A team member then shares a quote or something interesting they have found and this morning was no different. Brendan shared this quote with us:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
This perfectly foreshadowed the week of learning I had ahead of me. It motivated and inspired me to begin another day of soaking all the new information in.
On Tuesday afternoon, we got to take a deeper look into how Teamwork is used effectively to organize tasks between team members. Having the hands-on practice that I had yearned for allowed me to get to grips with the system. As a lover of lists, I knew I was going to enjoy this platform and the way it allows users to organize collaborative projects.
Day Three – My First Client Introductions
By now you may have guessed that Day 3 was full of a lot of learning opportunities. Today was spent taking a deeper look into ElementIQ’s clients; from the prospecting and the initial onboarding process, right through to the creation of client strategy.
In the afternoon, we then got to dive into all the different elements of digital marketing with Andrea. We covered SEO, web development, and social media to name a few. My inner nerd took over and I was lapping up all the information with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas. We discussed how each different channel plays its part in bringing a client’s business into the forefront of their customers’ minds. We also analyzed previous campaigns allowing us to get an idea of what ElementIQ is capable of.
This was by far, one of my favourite sessions in my jam-packed week. It further reiterated my passion for the world of digital marketing and all the possibilities that lie within it.
Day Four – My First Weekly Meeting
Thursday was spent taking a first look at account management and what it takes to be a good account manager. I learned that there are certain skills that can make a good account manager a great one! Such as; communication, organization, strong industry experience, and a thirst for knowledge and new ideas. All of which I hope to build on during my internship.
Each Thursday, the ElementIQ team gets together for a weekly meeting. During the meeting, they discuss the previous week and then a team member hosts a deep dive into a topic of their choice. As this was the first weekly meeting for us new interns, the team went easy on us and we enjoyed a roundtable where each member got to sum up their 1:1 meetings and snippets they had discovered about each other.
In order to keep creativity high while working from home, the team has also implemented weekly dress up themes for the meetings. This week’s theme was ‘Unda Da Sea’ derived from characters related to Little Mermaid. I had fun raiding my closets for 15 minutes before the meeting and getting ready to showcase my new found self as Flounder. However, I was outrageously outdone by Lincoln, who had cleverly turned himself into Ariel with items he had around the house.
As a person who grew up playing competitive sports, I have a natural desire to win. I did not take this defeat lightly and I am looking forward to getting another go at claiming the title of ‘best dressed’ next week!
Day Five – My First Shadow
In most cases, employees longingly count the days to Friday and the beginning of their weekend. However, I’d had so much fun and enjoyed all the learning I had experienced over the last week. I can honestly say, a week has never gone faster for me.
On Day 5, our morning was spent hearing about ElementIQ’s humble beginnings from Sam. We learned how they had scored their first client and built lasting relationships with strong forces in the industry.
A solid foundation that attracts an expert team that continuously produces quality work.
In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to independently explore all the tools and processes that we had experienced throughout the week. This time was beneficial, as someone who learns by doing, I really got to hone in and practice everything we had been taught, ready for the following week.
I was also invited to my first shadow session where I got to listen in on a brainstorming session for an email campaign for a client. I really appreciated that the team had thought about how to include me and provide valuable education opportunities, even while operating remotely.
The week was wrapped up by completing a personality test. This is an enjoyable and remarkable initiative that can give greater insight into how a team can work best together. My results were ridiculously accurate. Having a better understanding of myself will allow me to work with my strengths throughout the internship.
More Firsts to Come
As an avid traveler, I am always seeking firsts. Whether that be the chance to travel to a new place for the first time or learn something new. Even just 5 days into my internship, I know this desire will be filled at ElementIQ.
Being able to score an internship where the company invests in your learning as much as you do, makes me feel incredibly lucky. The organization and commitment to adding value for interns is clear to see in just a few short days. On Teamwork, I can see the roadmap that is laid out ahead of me.
If you need me in the next couple of months, my time will be spent nerding up on SEO, graphic design, web development, analytics, and social media marketing. Oh, and trying to earn that coveted ‘best dressed’ award!
Prior to beginning my internship, I worked in a variety of sales positions, from door-to-door and cold calling, all the way to B2B and in-person sales. These roles helped me build sales experience and in general provided great work experience, but I wanted to expand into the world of technology and gain new experiences. Of course, my first instinct as a sales-minded individual was to head into digital marketing. Even though digital marketing was very interesting to me, I decided to go a different direction at first.
Some research and hands on experimenting made me realize I actually was most intrigued in web and app development. My reasoning was that because I enjoy the problem solving aspect of development, I have a more analytical mindset, and I enjoy building things that can be seen and interacted with. Being a very hands on learner, I decided to take the bootcamp route at RED Academy. After finishing the full stack web and app development course, I attended the RED Academy Talent Connect event, where alumni were able to present themselves to potential employers, and vice versa. I was fortunate enough to meet Andrea, Lincoln and Sam from ElementIQ. After hearing about Sam’s presentation of values and his vision of the internship program at Element IQ, I approached them right away, following the employer presentation segment. To my suprise, they were intrigued because I had advertised myself as “Sales and Development”.
At first, I thought there was not a need for someone that could be successful at both sales and development. I started searching for jobs and talking to people at networking events and I quickly realized that I was a unique individual in the industry, which is why I decided to test the waters at the Talent Connect event and sell myself as someone that could do both.
ElementIQ had a new lead source which required a tech-minded individual with a strong sales background. That was convenient for me as I love sales, I love tech and development, and I have always been intrigued by digital marketing. They explained the internship is a very hands-on experience where I would get to gather a deep understanding of digital marketing and actually apply the skills in a work environment. Previous experience leads me to believe that hands on learning is most effective. Ultimately, everything perfectly lined up, my interview went well, and I began my first day as an ElementIQ Intern.
Day 1 at ElementIQ:
The reason you are reading this is probably because you are curious what your first week as an ElementIQ Intern will look like. Your first day begins at 10:00 AM where you get to meet the team, in-office and abroad. Everyone on the team is welcoming and very easy to get to know, they make you feel like you are part of the team right away. This specific intern on-boarding meeting was run a little bit different than it normally does.
After I met the team, Sam kicked off the meeting with our main value in the company – freedom. Allowing you to work while being able to travel, but still being held accountable. Sam then opened up to the team to discuss the overall value we at ElementIQ provide. Following that, Sam explained his vision and future goals for ElementIQ. Hearing this on my first day as an ElementIQ intern made me feel valued as a team member and like I was part of something bigger.
Following your first meeting with the team, you get to dive right into learning. Your first day revolves much around learning all the programs we use at ElementIQ. Especially the main one – Teamwork. Like anything new, I was lost and confused using Teamwork. All in all, I was very satisfied with my first day at ElementIQ and I was excited to learn new things.
Day 2 at ElementIQ:
Overloaded with new knowledge and the excitement of positive change, you could probably guess I had a restless sleep. However, Day 2 was finally upon me and I was ready to go. On your 2nd day at Element IQ you begin at 9:00AM with the rest of your team at the daily huddle. This is a time where you will get to focus on your previous day’s wins, the team’s blockers, and your current day’s goals that you want to accomplish. Plus there is an extra section for chatter – just anything that needs to be addressed. To end every team huddle, there’s an interesting “share” from one of the team members which is usually a quote or something that they found valuable and would like to share with the team.
Following the daily huddle, you are fully immersed into learning digital marketing. I sat down with Lincoln for an overview of all the different marketing channels ElementIQ has and saw examples of how we can utilize them to get the best results. This is a very generalized overview, but does provide you with good enough context to understand digital marketing as a whole, and how ElementIQ does it differently.
As you know already, I was very confused when working with Teamwork. Luckily for me I was able to sit down with Andrea, who is the coordinator of the Internship program. This step would normally happen on your 1st day of the internship, but she had been away on my first day. She explained to me exactly what to focus on while using Teamwork which really gave me a clear understanding of how to properly use Teamwork to the standards expected at ElementIQ. Since Day 2 was going smoothly, I started to focus on setting myself up for success on Day 3. With freedom being the main value at ElementIQ, you get 2 days a week where you get to work from home. In my opinion, it’s the 2 days you would want to work at home; Wednesday (hump day) and Friday (weekend kick off day).
Day 3 at ElementIQ:
If you are like me, someone who has a short attention span, work at home days are kind of scary. At first, I was worried I would not be able to keep busy enough and might fall victim to at-home distractions. On your first at home day, you will quickly realize this is not a problem at all. You will have so many different lessons, tasks or meetings to do that you’ll never find it hard to keep busy. Believe it or not, this was one of my busiest days thus far.
Your day starts like any other with the daily huddle. Andrea does a great job at structuring your internship to surround you with skill sets early on in the internship that will help support you, as you progress into your area of specialization with the company. Since my focus is on sales my lessons today were focused around the pre-sales questionnaire with Brendan. In this meeting we dissected our current pre-sales questionnaire and the importance behind each question, which took up most of the morning.
Depending on the skill set you bring to Element IQ, the team will sometimes ask for your help on certain things. Since one of my skill sets is in WordPress development, Lincoln and Joseph scheduled a meeting with me to help fix an issue with one of the plugins we used on our client’s website. I enjoyed doing my part, and was happy that they reached out to me. After the meeting we found a resolution that seemed feasible. Then, that afternoon, I had some extra time so I began to break down my thoughts and put my vision for the sales process onto paper.
Day 4 at ElementIQ:
At this point, you probably can guess how day 4 begins. I find it nice getting into a routine with the daily huddle. The biggest value of the daily huddle, in my opinion, is the communication factor for the team. You will find that every team member is on the same page when it comes to our clients. This is a breath of fresh air compared to previous jobs I have had.
Following the huddle, Lincoln and I discussed our current sales process and how our current revenue is being generated. At ElementIQ, your thoughts and ideas are always valued and you will never be shut down for voicing your opinion. If you decide to join the team, you will quickly notice I have lots of opinions. Some better than others, but I love how the team is open to hearing them, no matter what. That being said, I took Lincoln through the sales process idea I had written down the previous day. Lincoln seemed to really like it, and gave me some feedback on areas where I could improve it.
Knowing that communication is so important for our team, I spent some time talking to Andrea and took her through the sales process as well. Although she saw I was getting ahead of myself, she still let me finish and gave me her feedback on improvements that could be made. She then explained to me that I needed to slow down a bit because she noticed that my focus was being divided into 2 different mindsets – sales person and intern. I was feeling overwhelmed.
Day 5 at ElementIQ:
Week 1 of your internship will fly by. Like I said, Fridays you also get to work from home. Following our daily huddle, I got to meet with Vikram who is one of the more senior team members at ElementIQ and is also one of our team members who’s living abroad. We started off the meeting just talking about hobbies and building a relationship with each other. It was nice to get to know Vikram better. After spending some time talking, we started to discuss our “90 day plan” process, starting from the beginning where we find out our clients needs, then breaking down all the different dynamics of how the 90 day plans get created and deployed.
One of my tasks was to build a buyer persona for ElementIQ. After getting ideas of how to do a good buyer persona from Vikram, I wanted to take him through my sales process as well. He also had lots of great things to say about it and gave me spots I could improve on. I spent the rest of the day working on 3 buyer personas for Element IQ. I was fired up after our meeting and had all these ideas for the sales process that I wanted to get down over the weekend. Finding myself still getting overwhelmed, I took a step back over the weekend and began to understand Andrea’s advice about slowing things down.
The first week at Element IQ will have you feeling excited and mostly overwhelmed, but don’t worry. After talking to the team and reading the other internship blogs you will realize that everyone’s 1st week, feels this way. I am personally excited and thankful I have this opportunity to learn digital marketing in a hands-on learning environment. I absorbed a lot of knowledge in my first week and can’t wait to continue progressing. If freedom, trust and communication are things that you value, then your experience as an ElementIQ intern will be amazing.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a prospective applicant trying to figure out what the internship experience is like at ElementIQ, or maybe you’ve already reached the next step and now you’re just fishing for interview hints. Either way – great! It’s a sign that you’re trying to make an informed decision and you’re being strategic about solving a problem, which are both qualities that’ll serve you well if you end up as an intern here.
Before we go any further though, here’s something to keep in mind: no two interns at ElementIQ have the same experience, and I don’t mean that in the cliched “each person has different thoughts and feelings” way either. Like every intern before me, my internship experience has been shaped by the things I want to learn about, the people who have had a role in helping me learn, as well as ElementIQ’s current stage of growth. To me, that’s what sets the internship apart from what you’ll find elsewhere. There’s a flexibility here which allows you to explore what the industry is about and whether there’s a place for you in it.
So, as you read about my experiences and the experiences of other former interns here at ElementIQ, don’t make a list of all the things that we’ve done and expect to do the exact same things. Instead, reflect on our experiences and ask yourself, “If I were in those positions, what would I do? Would I be able to use this kind of environment to help myself grow as a professional and learn how to create value for clients?” Once you’ve done that, you should have a better idea of what the ElementIQ internship is all about, and whether it’s a good fit for you.
Way back when I was a naught but a young pup, I earned my BBA from Simon Fraser University, choosing to specialize in marketing and human resources. Going into university, a career in marketing was never a certainty, but it emerged as a natural fit for me since it combines qualitative and quantitative elements in a dynamic environment – basically, a bunch of things which are right up my alley.
Prior to this internship I didn’t have a ton of work experience in general, let alone relevant work experience. Having said that, the little relevant experience that I did have – a semester as an intern at another digital marketing agency – had allowed me to work with established industry players like Carl’s Jr. and Activision. As a first introduction into the world of marketing, that had really been an eye-opening learning experience, and it helped me to discover more about what kinds of work I enjoyed, and what I needed as an employee to feel fulfilled on the job.
For what it’s worth, I also represent a bit of an experiment for ElementIQ, as I’m joining the team as a client of SUCCESS’ Chance to Choose (C2C) Youth Employment Program. Like a couple of previous interns lamented, finding a digital marketing job is immensely challenging for new graduates when most employers are seemingly seeking at least a year or two of relevant work experience even for entry level positions. Unlike a lot of other places, ElementIQ is willing to take a chance on young talent, as they did when they brought me on board in November of 2019.
Day 1 – All Aboard For Onboarding
As other interns have mentioned, the first day involves a lot of new information, and my experience was no different. ElementIQ is all about iterative improvement though, so what I was expecting to be a hectic onboarding process based on prior interns’ chronicling turned out to be quite structured and logical thanks to all the hard work that Andrea and Carlos had put into refining the internship program.
Just because the information was organized, though, didn’t mean that there wasn’t still a lot of it. Looking back, I don’t think there’s really any way for a new intern to prepare for the sheer volume of details and processes they’re exposed to on day one. To put that statement into perspective, I read all the previous intern blogs, as well as the client case studies on the website, and I still felt moderately overwhelmed by the end of the day. When you’re looking at whiteboards full of organizational tasks and walls plastered with colourful arrangements of Post-It notes, it’s a lot to take in.
Photo by Greg Ma | From ElementIQ internal resources
The whirlwind morning was capped off with a team lunch down the street at Shio Japanese Kitchen. Naturally, it was a good chance to get acquainted with individual members of the team, but it was also a chance to observe the team’s interpersonal dynamics. All-in-all, I came away feeling like the atmosphere of supportiveness and camaraderie within the team was accurately represented during the recruitment process. Chummy folks all ‘round!
To close the day, Carlos sprung a completely unanticipated task on me: a post-hiring interview. The questions were remarkably open-ended and – in some cases – considerably more cognitively intensive than the previous two recruitment interviews. As I understand it, the interview was meant to create a record of how each intern’s goals and perspectives change over the duration of the internship, but I think it was also a valuable way of prompting new interns to be introspective and reflect on both where they’re coming from and where they want the internship to take them.
Day 2 – Learning…And Getting Schooled:
As all days do at ElementIQ, my second day kicked off with a huddle. I won’t go into too much detail since other interns have written a lot about huddles, but it was novel to get a first-hand look at how remote working operates in practice.
The huddle was followed up with an insightful lesson from Lincoln about the fundamentals of digital marketing, and how ElementIQ applies those fundamentals to the different channels it operates in. It was instructive, even entertaining, to hear a few stories about his experiences with former clients, and how those experiences have shaped the way that ElementIQ chooses its clients and formulates strategies for them. Lincoln explained that business owners know that digital marketing is important and want to see return on their marketing expenditure, but a lot of them are simply too busy to take the time to sit down and understand how digital marketing activities affect their business.
There was also a little nugget of wisdom from Andrea about how, down the road, I’d have some time to go over client accounts with Vikram and Lincoln, and that I should pay careful attention to how each of them approached the process of account management. It was a small thing, but with so much new information being introduced to me, I really appreciated receiving that kind of guidance about where to direct my attention. I’ve always had the notion that some organizations pay a lot of lip service to the idea of allowing individual styles to thrive – i.e. just be yourself and let the “real” you shine through – but then immediately hammer down the first proverbial nail that sticks out. Consequently, it was encouraging to see that ElementIQ was genuine about its commitment to helping its staff thrive and leveraging their individual strengths.
Photo by Greg Ma | From ElementIQ internal resources
Afterwards, Carlos and Greg invited me for a bit of lunchtime table tennis, which was a great change of pace after being seated for most of the morning. I’d played a bit of table tennis in high school, but nevertheless promptly got my butt handed to me. I mean, just look at Carlos’ gleeful expression! That is the face of a man who knows he’s about to give nightmares to his opponent. Still – it was awesome being able to play table tennis at work, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more.
The day wound down with a photoshoot session since Greg needed to update the existing staff photos on the ElementIQ website and add me as well. It was fascinating to watch the planning and setup that went into something like a photoshoot; not only did Greg take the photographs, but he also set up his phone camera so that he’d have footage to create a time-lapse later on.
Lastly, even though it was a small thing, I’d remiss if I didn’t mention that it was gratifying having my place cemented within the team as a visible member of ElementIQ on the website. There’s just something about seeing yourself up on a professional website among other professionals – it’s a satisfying sense that, hey, maybe I’m on my way to developing a career and making all my years of education pay dividends.
Day 3 – Motivated Self-Starting 101
My first remote day! I’d worked from home in the past, but it was interesting to work within a system where everyone met face-to-face via video call in the morning just to establish their tasks for the day and make sure any pressing issues were squared away.
Post-huddle, Andrea introduced me to the process of client onboarding, which was entirely new to me. Every organization naturally puts their own spin on how they familiarize clients with their services, workflow, and relationship expectations, so it was tremendously interesting to see how ElementIQ approaches this process.
From there, I was free to chart my own path for the remainder of the day. Anyone who’s ever read a job posting is probably familiar with that tired phrase “motivated self-starter” – heck, it even says “reliable self-starter” on the CTA at the bottom of this page. Well, working from home made it immediately evident why this is a necessary quality. The distractions that are the bane of every procrastination-prone student’s existence will rear their ugly heads with a vengeance if discipline and focus aren’t present. I didn’t struggle too much with this, but I certainly could see how this might be problematic for anyone who’s easily distracted.
My “Big Rock” for the day was collecting and consolidating client information from internal documents and online sources to create unified “client profiles”. That meant not only including basic information like phone numbers and addresses, but also in-depth information about clients’ competitors and pain points. Candidly speaking, it was tedious work, but it was also an excellent way to learn more about each of ElementIQ’s clients.
Beyond that, Slack made everyone seem much more accessible than email, even if there wasn’t the expectation of an immediate response. Through a few conversations, I discovered that people don’t always follow a nine to five schedule on remote days, sometimes opting to handle other commitments during the typical nine to five while bumping their working hours later into the evening.
Day 4 – The Art Of Account Management
On my fourth day, Lincoln sat down with me again to give me an overview of the many different clients that ElementIQ collaborates with. This is a general area of business that I’d always been curious about, and I appreciated being able to draw on the insights of someone who had years of experience dealing with accounts and clients during the digital marketing industry’s fledgling years. For me, one of the biggest takeaways here was how difficult it can be to confer value to clients and to demonstrate how agency activities are indisputably contributing to positive business returns.
Since it was Thursday, we had our weekly meeting – in contrast to the “micro” nature of the items that typically come up during the daily huddles, the weekly meeting seems to deal with more “macro” level issues.
Since it was only my fourth day, a lot of what was being discussed rightfully went over my head. At one point, however, the discussion switched to the issue of local office space. As a lifelong Coquitlam resident, I was able to share my knowledge and was subsequently invited to seek out more information to guide ElementIQ’s approach towards the issue. That’s something I like to see at an organization – expertise being leveraged rather than sole reliance on seniority.
Day 5 – Channeling My Inner Picasso:
While the previous days were mostly focused on accounts, client relationships and logistics, I got to switch gears for for day five and dive into one of the more specialized areas of digital marketing: graphic design.
One of the things I’d been hoping to get out of the internship was an introduction to more of the tools that are used as part of the digital marketing process. I’ve always felt that being a complete digital marketer means understanding all the different workflows that feed into a stellar digital marketing campaign, and I think that part of that comes from recognizing the abilities and limitations of the tools that are available.
In this case, the tool was Adobe Illustrator. I’d never worked with Illustrator before, so – being completely candid – it was frustrating seeing how slow I was compared to a proficient user (and awesome teacher) like Greg. At the same time, those few short hours were enough to give me the skills I needed to start with a blank artboard and create the image at the top of this blog, so I’d say the short-lived frustration was worth it.
Photo by Greg Ma | From ElementIQ internal resources
As the workday drew to a close, the flow of creative juices didn’t stop. I had the good fortune of starting my internship just before a team-building activity day. The activity? Painting! Considering that I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in probably more than a decade, the notion of painting in front of a bunch of new colleagues didn’t sound like the most fun idea, but it ultimately was a refreshingly entertaining bonding experience. We wrapped up the day with a few orders of freshly baked, classic Neapolitan pizza, putting a savoury exclamation point on the final day of my first week at ElementIQ.
There are a lot of entry-level positions where “learning from the bottom up” is used as an excuse to justify relegating tedium to employees lacking in seniority. In some ways, that’s fair – everyone only has so much time in a day, and senior employees may be more effective if less of their time is committed to menial tasks. At the same time, this is something that every young graduate tries their hardest to avoid, and rightly so.
Reading back through ElementIQ’s intern blog – which you should do if you haven’t already – you’ll notice there are some tedious, repetitive tasks, absolutely. For me, it was client profiles; for prior interns, it was “citation hell.” But that’s okay – ElementIQ positions its internship as the consummate learning experience, and I feel like that’s an expectation which has been met thus far. I’ve had a chance to see real-world theory put into practice; I’ve had a chance to do hands-on learning with new tools; and – perhaps most importantly – I’ve had a chance to be a genuine contributor.
To go along with ElementIQ’s sports-based theming, I’ll close by saying that, one week in, the internship’s closest sporting parallel is like a prospect’s first taste of a pro league. For any prospect, going professional is eye-opening. It’s a chance to work with pro-level talent, see how they conduct themselves, and witness the work that goes into achieving top-notch performance day-in-day-out. Sometimes you’ll have to grind, sometimes you’ll have to struggle, but those experiences are just part of the learning process. It’s the same with any sports team; if you want to make the team, you have to put in the work. The internship is ElementIQ’s investment in young talent for their team – they draft you, they surround you with support and resources, and the rest is up to you.
Coming into the ElemenIQ Internship program I was certain I wanted to specialize in social media. I was lucky enough that at the time, ElementIQ was looking for someone to oversee social media accounts. After my first week as an intern, I started to slowly take on clients’ social media accounts.
Every week I would take on two clients and I would work on their content buckets and content calendars. Every week was a new challenge and a new opportunity to develop and strengthen my skills. After a couple of months into my internship, creating content and scheduling posts for the various accounts became something natural. However, managing social media isn’t only about creating content and scheduling posts. There are various different aspects that come into play when one wants to successfully manage social media.
At some point, most brands and inventors find it difficult to get noticed on social media.
The only way to stand out on social media is to rise above all the noise. Cutting through all the noise can certainly be overwhelming. Here are four simple ways to stand out on social media that I learned throughout my internship.
With so many brands on social media, it has become increasingly challenging to be unique and stand out. Ideally, your social media presence should not look like everyone else’s. This principle might initially seem simple. In reality, however, various brands fall into the trap of becoming monotonous, mainly because they want to play it safe and reduce their degree of risk. Unfortunately, playing it safe prevents a brand from standing out.
To stand out, you have to move away from posting promos and sharing links. The content that you post should be something your audience can relate to; it should include information they genuinely want to engage with. Making your posts more targeted and personal to your intended audience will help you establish a deeper connection with them. The more your audience relates to your content, the keener they will be on sharing it with their followers, as well as liking and interacting with it.
Caring for your image and profile is part of being unique. When visiting your profile, you want users to relate and identify with it on a personal level. Having an effective biography, great profile picture, and eye-catching feed is essential to get noticed.
In most cases, users glance through a profile for two seconds. This provides you with two precious, valuable seconds to catch their attention and cause them to want to stay and explore your brand further. The more visually pleasing your feed and profile are, the more followers and likes you will receive.
A perfect example of a visual and themed feed is @happyskinkitchen. In this case, vibrant, eye-popping colors are used in images to create a high level of visual appeal, this increases the likelihood that you’ll click and like the image.
Create Awesome Content
Creating unique content is not only about posting a high-quality picture or video; it also includes using creative visuals and compelling captions to tell a story.
Images and videos should not only be clear and of high quality but should also reflect your brand. This allows your targeted audience to relate specifically to the content and associate it directly with your brand. Combining strong visuals with creative captions will encourage your audience to engage, start conversations, and share your content.
In order to create content that users want to interact with, you must come up with a content strategy. Without a well-established content strategy, new social media users tend to not know what to post and have a hard time adapting to social media. There are multiple ways of preparing for and creating a content strategy. However, there are four key components to every content strategy, these include
Knowing your competitors and what they are posting
Out of the four key components, I personally have found creating content buckets to be the key determinant in content strategy success. You certainly want to know yourself and your competitors before creating content buckets. However, without awesome content buckets, it is difficult to attain social media success.
Content buckets are categories or topics that speak to different aspects of your business, they are separated into main buckets and sub-buckets. For example, at ElementIQ, main buckets include company culture, our internship program, clients, and events. Within our main culture bucket, we have sub-buckets such as agency life, retreats, meals, and the team. Having well-fleshed out content buckets will facilitate the process of creating content and scheduling posts.
Engage & Use Hashtags
Being noticed in social media is not only about content. Interacting with other brands, customers, and influencers is also a key to success. In the social media world, users appreciate ‘love’ (likes, comments, and shares). The more ‘love’ they receive from you, the more ‘love’ they are willing to give back. Remember, the core goal of social media is to be … social!
Tagging and mentioning is the most common way of catching the attention of brands and users. By doing so, you are not only engaging with them, but also helping to amplify your content. Tagging and mentioning is a popular brand awareness strategy, mainly because brands or users can be targeted directly in order to begin a conversation.
Hashtags have become a popular exposure method across social media platforms. Different social media platforms use hashtags in their own unique ways. Despite these differences, it is clear that posts which use hashtags receive a higher level of engagement. This occurs because hashtags further expose your posts, simply by placing them in specific categories that are being searched by targeted users. Growing and creating your own hashtag, especially for small and new businesses, is a smart move from a brand awareness perspective. If done properly, over time more and more users will start using your personalized hashtag. Here are some quick tips to help you become a hashtag expert.
Remember this! Social media platforms are a playground for engaging with one another. Engaging with your customers has never been that easy and simple. Here are some additional tips to engage your audience on social media.
Consistency allows you to grow your engagement and reach. This includes not only posting regularly but also using a consistent voice and posting the same type of content. Consistency in social media is all about developing your brand, which is best expressed through your social media profiles.
Ideally, you want your images and captions to always reflect who you are. Once you have nailed the language, color, and images, you can focus on posting regularly.
Posting regularly does not mean you need to post twice each day. In the end, quality matters more than quantity. Figuring out the number of times you have to post per week, and at what time of the day, can be tricky. However, there are tools that help you identify the best times to schedule your posts across different platforms. At ElementIQ we use Sendible, a game-changer when it comes to scheduling posts, saving time, and successfully reaching target populations.
Pro tip: Try using the same handle on all social media platforms. This will make it easier for others to find you and tag you.
The Bottom Line
The world of social media is filled with competitors of all shapes and sizes. In order to consistently stand out, there are numerous strategies you can implement. First, make sure you begin by providing content. However, content is only half the battle, as you must also ensure that your content is unique and appealing enough to make users want to engage with it. In your quest for success, remember to focus on creating a specific, tailored experience for your target audience population, rather than providing a variety of general content in attempts to be the most popular brand. When in doubt, visit the ElementIQ blog for helpful tips on social media marketing, and digital marketing strategies.
Finding the right career can sometimes be frustrating. Not all of us have a clear idea of who we will become after our studies. Figuring out on what we will be working on for the rest of your life can be intimidating. How are we supposed to identify the field of our career? Are we supposed to try everything out and work in every industry?
My name is Carlos. I recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a BBA in Marketing and Design, and like most of you, I have asked all the questions above. When I started my studies at TWU I was certain I was going to become an accountant. One year later I learned about stocks and moved into finance. After completing a Summer Internship in Finance, I realized I wasn’t meant for the industry, so decided to go back to school and specialize in marketing. My first marketing class was eye-opening. I questioned myself – what I had been doing with my life? Numbers were amazing, but creating stuff was awesome. Once I discovered I was a creative person I decided to enroll myself in various design courses and learn digital design, photography, and videography. I had never felt so at home, I was extremely excited that I finally found something I felt comfortable with, but most importantly something that I love to do. From that moment on, work was never really work.
My Perspective On Internships
After graduating from TWU I went to my home country, El Salvador. During my stay, I had the opportunity to complete a three-month internship at a local dental clinic (Orthoestetic Center). The internship focused on Social Media, and I was responsible for attracting possible prospects to the clinic. Throughout my internship at Orthoestetic, I learned how to use Facebook and Instagram paid ads to generate leads, something I had never done before. Internships are all about trying out new stuff, failing, succeeding, learning from our mistakes and most importantly, learning new things.
Personally, I believe that internships are what prepare us to be great, they provide guidance and help us identify our career. After my internship at Orthoestetic, I knew social media marketing and content creation was my thing, so decided to return to Canada and look for a full-time job.
Looking For A Job & My First Week As An Intern At ElementIQ
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Finding your first job is certainly harder than I expected. For a moment I questioned myself if I was doing something wrong, or even if my skills were not good enough. It was frustrating to see how most “entry-level jobs” were asking for two or more years of experience. Yes… two or more years for an entry-level job. Something impossible for someone that graduated four months ago. After realizing that almost every entry-level job asked for two or more years of experience, I decided to once again, gain more experience with a second internship. This time, I had the opportunity to join an amazing team at ElementIQ. Many of you will ask, why a second internship? To be completely honest, I asked the exact question myself. However, the internship at ElementIQ wasn’t simply an internship, it was the best internship I have heard of, certainly one of a kind. Asking myself if I wanted to once again be an intern was never a question.
Day One At ElementIQ: Onboarding
My internship at ElementIQ began on April 1st of 2019 at 10:00 AM. I had never been so excited about an internship or a new job. My first day was full of meeting team members, learning about daily meetings, learning about weekly meetings, being overwhelmed, and my favorite part of the day – eating tacos for lunch. I spent most of my day with Andrea (Project Manager at ElementIQ), who introduced me to what my four months of internship were going to look like. With Andrea, I learned about time management and daily planning. Essential skills that will be useful not only throughout my internship, but my whole career. By the end of my first day, I felt excited and driven to grow while being part of an amazing team.
Day Two At ElementIQ: First Huddle Meeting
Day two of my internship was full of learning about the culture at ElementIQ. My day started off with a daily meeting at 9:08 AM. Daily meetings at ElementIQ are called Huddles and happen through a video conference. Those who are present at the agency gather around a laptop and start a live meeting with those who are working remotely. Daily Huddles happen every day and start exactly at 9:08 AM. They exist to bring the team together and provide everyone with clear daily goals. Huddles follow a specific structure:
Wins – work-related and personal accomplishments of our previous day. Each team member shares a big win on a task they were working on the day before.
Blockers – reminders that call for immediate action on other team members that are preventing you from moving forward on a project or completing a task. Blockers are not used to call anyone out, but instead, serve as reminders to work on a task and speed up project completion.
Big Rocks – big tasks or projects you will be working on during that specific day.
Chatter – open discussion of things happening at ElementIQ.
Share – a team member shares something with the team, usually a quote or something relevant to the agency or clients.
The rest of my day was full of meetings with different team members and learning more about their role at the agency and the roles they play with clients. Before the end of the day, I had a photoshoot with camera experts Stivian and Greg. We had lots of fun shooting and playing with lighting and cameras. Overall, an amazing day.
Day Three At ElementIQ: First Remote Day
Before joining ElementIQ, I had been working on some freelance projects where I would spend most of my time working from home. Despite the fact that I had already worked from home, my first remote day was still something new and felt somewhat different.
Remote days also start off with a Daily Huddle at 9:08 AM. To be honest, I was quite nervous for my first remote Daily Huddle. Unlike Daily Huddles at the office where all team members gather around one laptop, this time it would be more like a video conference with nine different members.
After my first remote daily Huddle, I worked on small tasks that different team members had assigned me the day before. My first remote day went really great, I had lots of fun working from home.
Day Four At ElementIQ: My First Small Project
As usual, day four started with our Daily Huddle. Team members shared their wins, blockers, big rocks and chatter. My fourth day at the agency was full of meetings with different members of the team. I met with Vikram to learn a little bit more about different accounts at the agency. I met with Joseph and learned how to properly use Teamwork, and finally, met with Stivian to work on my first small project. My first project consisted of opening social media accounts for a client and filling out the about us sections.
Getting involved with social channels for our clients was extremely exciting for me. In my interview, I mentioned I enjoyed working on social media platforms and creating content. Having the opportunity to get hands on was my highlight of the day.
Every Thursday we have a weekly meeting at the agency. Weekly meetings start at 4:00 PM and run until 5:00 PM. They are split into two main sections.
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Weekly Win – similar to wins for our Daily Huddles, we all share a big win for our week.
Numbers – We all share number-related accomplishments, such as increasing engagement by 70% on Instagram for a client.
4:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Deep Dive – a team member is in charge of conducting a thirty-minute presentation and activity of their liking. Ideally, both the presentation and activity should be related to improving the work we do at the agency.
Day four was really busy for me. However, right after the meeting I stayed and spent time bonding with the team and having fun playing ping pong.
Day Five At ElementIQ: Last Day Of First Week
Day five was a slower day. After our usual remote daily Huddle, I worked on adding my own tasks on Teamwork for the upcoming weeks. I also planned my meetings for the coming week and got used to using Google Calendar. After adding all my tasks and updating my calendar, I started brainstorming ideas for my first blog post. Later, I spent time getting to know more about our clients. I went over all our clients’ profiles, websites and social accounts.
My first week at ElementIQ as an intern was a unique experience. I learned lots of new things and made new friends. I am extremely excited to learn and grow with an amazing team.
Three Tips For Your Next Internship
As I mentioned before, there are countless reasons why internships are important. However, as interns, we have to be prepared to make the best out of such opportunities. After looking back over my first week as an intern, I came up with three tips that will guide and help you make the best out of your first or next internship.
Don’t Be Too Scared And Nervous
Losing sleep the day before your internship or feeling sick on your commute to your first day is unstoppable. Getting rid of such feelings is quite impossible. Sometimes, starting a new position can be intimidating and scary, making us act nervously and not think straight. The couple of hours before starting your first day will certainly be full of feelings, however, once you meet your new coworkers and settle down, you will feel more at home. Despite our nature to worry about the unknown, try not to be too nervous and too scared. Try to remain calm and confident. Remaining calm will actually help you to get to know your coworkers in a better way, and will help you to retain important information. Don’t forget to enjoy your first day, have fun and be the best you.
Make The Most Out Of Everything
Internships provide us with the opportunity to learn and grow. We can learn as much as we allow ourselves to learn. Internships will be full of challenges that push us to do things. Take on those challenges, even if you feel you aren’t fully prepared. Internships are made for us to learn from what went well or wrong. By trying, you will grow and develop new skills. Take every challenge and opportunity that comes your way, always be open minded and shine!
Be Confident In What You Have To Offer
Don’t be afraid of showing off your skills. New knowledge and skills are what agencies and companies need. Showing off your skills and contributing will make your experience better, but most importantly it will show your potential and the things you can accomplish. Feeling intimidated by the advanced skills that experienced coworkers offer is understandable. However, by not trying/failing and learning, you are limiting your learning experience. Never doubt yourself and be confident in your skills.
Internships are a unique learning experience. As an intern, make the most out of such learning experience. I have no words to describe my first week at ElementIQ. I was inspired to learn and grow, the culture at ElementIQ encourages me to always be my best. I am excited to be part of an amazing team and really look forward to what the future holds.
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” (Anthony J. D’angelo)
The tech industry has been booming for the last few decades. The industry composes of a quarter of the S&P500 (CNBC), an index based on the market capitalizations of the 500 largest companies in the US stock market.
Is A Career In Tech Right For You?
You might be asking, who am I and why should you consume anything that I say? Despite being in my twenties, I’ve explored many different careers in the past from sports, hospitality, finance before making the transition into the tech industry. I haven’t looked back since and here’s why:
After venturing different career paths, I found that a fulfilling career needs to meet the following criteria:
Opportunity. The career needs an opportunity for me to grow intellectually. I needed to take on more responsibilities, create value in the marketplace in order to be compensated more and eventually start my own business.
Freedom. Over the years, I’ve identified that my core needs are to be both emotionally and financially free. My goal is to have the freedom to do what I want without any constraints. A career in tech can provide that. I can grow within the company, start my own business, and work location-independently as all I need is an internet connection.
Fun. What’s What’s the point of doing anything if it’s not fun? Even though it’s a grind, you must enjoy the process. There is no exception and that applies to all aspects of life!
It’s easy to get caught up with images on social media of people working at a beach in Thailand while sipping on coconuts. It seems too good to be true and what goes behind the scenes are often neglected. Here is some truth about working in the tech industry:
The Grind. Working in the tech industry is a grind. Whether you’re at an agency, a startup or an established corporate company, a heavy workload will be expected of you. But what about the table tennis, foosball and the workout rooms onsite? They are available to set your mind off work for a while so that you can get right back to it!
Continuously Learning. You’ll never fully master your job. Why? It’s because technology is so rapidly changing. From the tools of the trade to the user preferences, things are ever-changing and should you stop learning, you will eventually become obsolete from the workforce. Therefore, you become a lifelong learner and improve continuously.
You Must Deliver. Freedom comes at a cost and it is the ability to deliver and provide results. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked overtime or all weekend to solve a problem. There’s only one way to track performance and it is your ability to produce results.
Here’s How To Get Started
I hope that the last section didn’t discourage you too much because the benefits by far outweigh the costs. Wondering where to start? Here are some tips:
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Find Your Place In Tech. Whether you’re seeking a role as a Marketer, Designer, Developer, Content Writer or a Project Manager, there’s a place for you in tech. For example, I became a User Experience Designer because I was interested in human behaviour and how we interact with things. Take a crash course and find professionals that are already doing what you want to do on Linkedin and invite them out for a coffee chat! People are generally friendly and willing to help out. All you have to do is ask.
Education. Teaching yourself to enter the industry sounds very appealing as it doesn’t cost much. The truth is that being motivated to teach yourself to the point that an employer is willing to give you a try is very unlikely. I tried this myself by taking courses on Lynda.com and other resources like Free Code Camp and YouTube tutorials, but I was never confident enough to break into the industry.
What I resolved was to take a 3-month intensive bootcamp at RED Academy to become a designer. Was it expensive? Yes, but it was worth it because it shortened my learning curve to break into the industry faster than if I were to teach myself. Because it’s such a booming industry, training courses are offered everywhere from universities, private schools to online courses. Be fully intentional if you decide to enroll in these courses because it’s all about how you leverage these programs to enter the industry, not their ability to train you and get you the job. Take full responsibility for your own destiny and go for it!
Document And Publish. This ties into the last point about education: as you learn, you’ll be creating. Document and publish work even if it’s not complete! Get your work out there for the world to see. When you’re trying to break into the industry, most companies hire based on how ambitious you are and if it’s worth their time investing in you to learn and grow. At the very minimum, they will take the foundation of your technical skills into consideration when making the decision to hire you.
What Are You Waiting For?
Dale Carnegie once said “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” It’s so easy to get caught in your head and wonder the what if’s. Instead, try it and fail. Learn from it, try again, fail again, and you’ll eventually succeed.
I’ll end with a story of my journey into the industry to demonstrate the above paragraph. Two years ago, I quit my full-time job as a Financial Advisor to enroll in a 3-month tech bootcamp. The course was thousands of dollars and I was unemployed for the first six months coming out of the program. I was offered an internship position at ElementIQ and I was hesitant to accept the offer as I believed that I could do better. A year and a half later, I’m still with the company and learned tonnes in the process. In hindsight, I’m glad that I took action to create an opportunity and prove myself instead of passively waiting for it to happen to me.
I’m no guru and I didn’t have any design background (let alone the foundation in art) when I came into the industry. If someone like me can successfully break into the tech industry, you can too!
As humans, we have a limited number of hours each day to get our work done. No way around that. While we have no power over time, we do have control over how efficient we are. At ElementIQ, we work with a variety of clients in different industries, so making sure we put our best foot forward every hour is something we have to get right every time.
I sat down with our in-house Web Developer Kevin Hashimoto to discuss how he likes to tackle the challenge of maximizing your effort in a given time-frame. Take a look below.
Stivian: Hey Kevin, thanks for joining me today. You’ve had a pretty extensive post-secondary background so far, mind sharing what you’ve studied?
Kevin: I went to film school, business school and then I went into programming. I’m currently dabbling in design, so it’s been quite the range of experience.
Stivian: What do you like about development? Is it scratching that creative itch or getting to think strategically?
Kevin: A bit of both, actually. With development, it’s not so visual, but I love creating things from scratch. I’m a very do-it-yourself kind of person. If I need something and it doesn’t exist, I’ll just make it.
Stivian: Have you always had an interest in work efficiency?
Kevin: I think so. I’ve always wanted to work as efficiently as possible. It bothers me when things aren’t going as smoothly as they can be.
Stivian: Have you seen things at ElementIQ that could be more efficient?
Kevin: With ElementIQ, it’s more that everything’s always in the process of change. We’re continuously improving processes as we find them. There’s a lot to improve on, and there’s a lot that we do well.
Stivian: What’s something you’ve seen implemented at ElementIQ that’s made a big difference in how we work?
Kevin: Me joining is one. *laughs*
I think how we structure our project management with Teamwork. Since we don’t have a dedicated project manager, getting organized with that tool has been keeping projects in order. If we misuse it, our communication gets disorganized and projects get chaotic.
On the design side, Invision has been really good. There’s a lot of tools inside of it that help with development workflows.
Stivian: How do you get ready for the day? Does your routine start in the morning or at night before work?
Kevin: I’m a night person, to be honest. I just work so much better at night. Somewhere from 10 PM to 2 AM is my sweet spot. My morning routine is pretty relaxed. I wake up and hang out for a bit until I get in the mood. I’ll eat some granola bars, drink a protein shake, check out Instagram and get to work. I’m not a morning person but I’ll get up and do what I need to do to prepare.
Stivian: There you go. I know you freelance on the side, do you find working at an agency 9 to 5 and working on the side to be difficult?
Kevin: Oh yeah, totally. Even if I were to be just freelancing full-time, it’d be really difficult because it’s so volatile and unpredictable. Juggling a full-time job at an agency and then freelancing right after that is pretty tough but I’ve got goals I want to get to, so they keep me going.
Stivian: Nice, what are some of these goals?
Kevin: I’m launching my own branding agency, and my other goal is working fully remote, preferably on a beach somewhere.
Stivian: That’s the dream. What’s the Pomodoro technique? I’ve heard you mention it before.
Kevin: It’s a technique where you work for 25 minutes at a time and take a 5-minute break, and so on. The urgency of the timer keeps you focused because you know you don’t have a lot of time. I find I’m more focused throughout the day with the 5-minute break in there. It’s a good power-hour.
Stivian: I guess you could call it a power-25. How do you like to spend your 5-minute breaks?
Kevin: I like to get up, get a glass of water and walk around a little bit. I don’t want to be in front of my computer waiting for the 5 minutes to expire, as I need to refresh my brain for the next session.
Stivian: Have you been using this technique for a while?
Kevin: A little while, yeah. I’ve been experimenting with different times blocks, just because development has a different workflow. I tend to work for longer than 25 minutes at a time.
Stivian: What are some of the challenges with being a web developer compared to previous jobs you’ve had?
Kevin: Thinking ahead is a big one. You need to structure how you develop things ahead of time. You need to make things scalable and maintainable so you’re always considering the future when building.
Stivian: That makes sense. What does the ideal workflow set-up look like to you?
Kevin: In terms of development, I like to have the design finalized before I touch development, just in case things change because I have to go back and re-do my work. Getting everything finalized before actually building anything is ideal, and it’s what we’re in the process of standardizing here. On the design side, you want the scope of the project before you get to work. Having clear steps detailed before getting to work makes for smooth projects.
Stivian: At ElementIQ, we work two days of the week from home. How do you find remote work? Do you find yourself more productive or focused with the extra time to rest?
Kevin: Honestly, it’s a mix. Some days I feel more productive, some less. Some, I’m more focused, others not so much. I find the flexibility to work at my own pace and catch up after 5 PM a bonus. It’s also a little more relaxing working from home. Some days I go to a café, grab a warm drink and some pastries and work from there.
Stivian: That sounds pleasant. What do you think are your best habits that have resulted in professional success?
Kevin: Being straight to the point, and not too humble about things. When you sugarcoat some things, your points might not get across at times. I used to be pretty humble and sugarcoat everything, just because I wanted everyone to like me. The way this comes back to efficiency is if you want things to change, you can’t sugarcoat them.
Stivian: I agree. I think it’s important to acknowledge the difference between dishonest harmony and being truthful for the sake of productivity. Were you a disorganized person before? Did you have to work hard to develop good habits?
Kevin: I think I was pretty disorganized. In terms of school, I never liked it so I was disorganized from the beginning, but my accumulation of experience and experimenting with different methods has brought me to where I am today.
Stivian: Do you have any advice for people who might be disorganized and are trying to build good habits?
Kevin: Every person is different. I’d suggest exploring different methods of working and finding that zone that you’re comfortable in.
ElementIQ has a fairly unorthodox approach to where we work. We currently spend two days of the week remotely, and the other 3 are spent at CMPNY, a coworking space in Coquitlam.
Wondering what a coworking space is?
Coworking spaces are shared workspaces with desks in the open, private offices, and meeting rooms making up the majority of the floor. The flexibility, price point, and amenities offered are stealing entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses from traditional workspaces.
We had the chance to sit down for an interview with boss lady Alicja Mazur, Director of Communications and Community at CMPNY to discuss how these innovative hubs are creating opportunities and fostering communities for teams of all sizes.
Stivian: Hey Alicja, thanks for doing this. Tell us a little bit about your professional background.
Alicja: I started out in retail, as we all do, where I perfected my salesmanship skills. Then I became an Executive Assistant for a software development company, whereupon I started working for the Port Moody Arts Centre as a Communications Manager. Then I landed this gig, where I was a Space Manager for about two years.
Stivian: Word on the street is you recently got a promotion?
Alicja: Yup, I’m now the Director of Communications and Community.
Stivian: What’s that gonna entail?
Alicja: It’s an experiment! I’m hoping to grow the community in Burnaby and Coquitlam. I’m going to come up with a strategic plan for us in regards to communicating the benefits of coworking.
Stivian: That’s exciting. Big role. Tell me a little bit about CMPNY, what you guys do, and what your values are.
Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?
Alicja: CMPNY is a coworking space that primarily focuses on shared office space, shared desks, shared meeting rooms, etcetera. Our clients are small business owners, entrepreneurs, contractors, freelancers and the like. They can share among the resources of CMPNY and the community to grow their business and look more professional to their clients, and be in that continual phase of growing and acquiring knowledge.
Stivian: Makes sense. Is there anything behind the name? You guys were Spacekraft before, right?
Alicja: We were Spacekraft before. That was a stylistic choice because we wanted to represent innovation. That being said, we felt that we’ve grown quite a bit from our original choice, so we rebranded as CMPNY. The reason it’s CMPNY with no vowels is because it’s such a striking visual. If people recognize the brand, that’s the first step to success.
Stivian: It’s a strong name, I like the look. What sort of impact have you seen CMPNY have in the local community?
Alicja: The impact we’re having in the Tri-Cities right now is that we’re getting people used to the idea of coworking spaces. What we’ve noticed is that most people in the suburbs either commute all the way downtown or work from home. There’s very few local jobs that allow people to commute in 5, 10 minutes, and the people that work from their homes are comfortable doing so. Something that CMPNY’s doing right now is making sure that talent comes here because that brings the zest of business relationships, and that grows the businesses inside the coworking space.
Stivian: Nice. Why do you think businesses are coming here? What’s drawing them in over traditional working spaces?
Alicja: Well, there’s scientific-based research that says that working remotely isn’t healthy for people. People who work remotely are more likely to experience depression, they’re more likely to be divorced, and people who commute long hours downtown typically experience decreased life satisfaction overall. So for those able to work remotely, over the internet, and not having to be at a workplace, all of a sudden you have this opportunity to be at a workplace. You might not want to work at your house, per se, because there’s so many distractions there.
Stivian: That makes sense. I think the whole loneliness thing, being alone Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, that’s got to have an effect on those working from home. I guess some people can pull it off but…
Alicja: Well that’s why you see an increase of people working out of coffee shops. They want to be around people because we’re inherently social creatures.
Stivian: So you get a lot of freelancers and solopreneurs, do you guys do anything to build a community for them?
Alicja: Yes! So, one of the main missions of the Space Managers, and one of CMPNY’s main missions is to make sure we host events that people want to go to and make connections. Not necessarily rigid business connections, but more-so friendly, neighbourly, communal connections. I come from a Political Science and Communications background, so the value that people get out of micro-communities and micro-villages is stupendously strong and influential. That’s where you form friendships. That’s why the eradication of neighbourhoods causes so much panic.
Stivian: Are people enthusiastic about the events? Do you see them come out pretty often?
Alicja: Yep, we have really great turnouts and we usually have a bunch of different people that come out to them. We have a mix of social events, and their primary reason for existing is for people to get to know one another. We have education programming where we bring in an expert on a certain topic so you can learn more and bring a new tool to your arsenal. Next week we’re doing a lip-sync battle. It’s just one of those things where if you can lip-sync in front of a bunch of strangers (who might be friends now), you now have the confidence to do that pitch in front of an investor that can take your business to the next level.
Stivian: If you could organize one event – your DREAM event, what would it be?
Alicja: If I had unlimited funds, I would take all the CMPNY folk on a 7-day retreat cruise where we would talk about professional development, and bring in a business coach, a life coach, a psychologist and a business planner, and have each person go through that, and go through it together as a community. That would be a cathartic experience.
Stivian: That’s better than what I had. For some reason, my brain jumped to bringing in like 12 llamas to the office. So the Digital Nomad movement has become very popular within coworking spaces, do you get a lot of these people coming through?
Alicja: Absolutely. Again, it’s one of those things where you want to connect. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Digital Nomads usually specialize in specific areas, and while they might be able to Google a resource or call a colleague in Alberta, it’s way easier to just talk to somebody face to face. That face to face interaction is key to improving and learning better. If somebody shows you how to do something, as opposed to reading a blog about it, that’s much more likely to stick.
Stivian: Has the industry changed a lot since you started at CMPNY?
Alicja: The industry has changed quite a bit. A little history of coworking – the connotation of coworking started with the dotcom movement in Germany. A bunch of hackers rented a basement and were like “…This is pretty sick. It costs us all virtually nothing and it’s fun working together.”. It then migrated to Silicon Valley, where it was more of the bean-bag chairs recreational area and developing personal relationships. You can see that at Google’s headquarters where they have a bunch of benches, a cafeteria, ping pong, and things like that. And then it came here because there was a need for it. With the whole Digital Nomad movement and the fact that office spaces were becoming increasingly more expensive, why not work out of coworking spaces?
Stivian: That’s a big impact. Last question. What role do coworking spaces play today and how do you see them evolving in the future?
Alicja: Coworking spaces right now fill a niche for community building and a lack of affordable building space. I see coworking spaces expanding like franchises, similar to Starbucks and McDonalds. People want to work close to home, as they’re increasingly starting to value work-life balance. For parents who have careers that are demanding, it’s important to spend as much of your time with your kids as possible. You want that balance.
I think coworking spaces are going to be a-dime-a-dozen, and what that’s going to mean is they’re going to really differentiate themselves. For example, there’s L’Atelier downtown that’s primarily catered to creatives. For us, 10 to 15 years down the road, I can see us having a coworking space primarily for Digital Marketing people, a coworking space specifically for engineers, a coworking space for X, Y and Z. It’s just going to silo.
Stivian: That’s really cool. Any last words you want to add?
I’m just over a month into my internship at ElementIQ, and I’ve gone through some pretty big changes as a person in that time.
First off, this has been my first “real adult 9 to 5 job”, so that’s come with its own set of realizations. After having spent the last two years in film school, and the years before that working construction, landscaping, retail, and every other entry-level, no experience needed job out there, for the first time I feel like I’m on a promising career path. That’s pretty exciting (to me, at least).
While I was expecting professional growth, I’ve also run into some changes that go deeper than my skillset.
#1 – I Had To Become Organized Or Fall Behind Fast.
Admittedly, I’m not the most organized person. Never have been. I’m more of a ‘leave it until the last minute and get everything done in an anxiety-fueled manic sprint’ kind of person.
My college years involved more 4 AM nights than is even remotely healthy for an individual. While this method worked and got me through the program with half-decent grades, it wasn’t something I wanted to continue, mainly for the sake of my own health. (Do you know how dangerous lack of sleep is? I didn’t until I looked into it. Now I’m terrified of not getting enough sleep. Start here.)
If there’s one way working at an agency differs compared to working for a brand, it’s the amount of work you’ll be doing for a variety of clients. While I learned to juggle a variety of projects at BCIT (and our course load was no joke), it’s a whole lot different when the work you’re putting out is affecting someone’s bottom line.
Disorganization just doesn’t cut it in an agency environment. To stay on top of your workload, you need tools. One of the biggest eye-openers was when I got introduced to the various project management and task tracking platforms we use. I was nervous seeing what it would take. I’ve never been this organized, and I knew I had to adapt quickly or fall behind and jeopardize myself.
So I did. I killed the old, disorganized me, and boy, it feels good.
I’ve been doing my best to be disciplined and log all my time, stay ahead of late tasks, and get help when I need it. This has also directly affected my personal life, as I’m becoming a more organized person. I used to be known in my friend circle as the guy who’s always late for everything, but now I come to work 20 minutes early most days and I love it.
#2 – Imposter Syndrome Is Real (But I Might Not Actually Be One).
“Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”
Our current team is six people, plus two remote specialists. Each person brings such a different skill set, that in unity, we’re able to cover a lot of bases. Given my film school background and very minor education in digital marketing, I knew there were some things I could bring to the table, but I still wasn’t sure how I was going to fit in the puzzle and be a valuable team member.
What if I’m not good enough to do the job?
I was pretty nervous to see how things would play out, but those feelings were laid to rest when I sat down with Vikram on my first day and was shown my roadmap.
The first 8 weeks consist of a different mentor teaching you a new area of digital marketing each week. After each 101, you’re quickly assigned to work on a client project, utilizing what you just learned. Jumping into work that is meaningful (and affects a clients’ bottom line) has been incredibly fun. This approach is a fantastic way to figure out what you like and what you’re good at early on.
The second half of the internship is more intensive, as you decide on your primary and secondary responsibilities and take on a pet project of your own. While I haven’t gotten there yet, I’m excited to lead a creative project and really hone in on the type of marketer I want to become.
I honestly think ElementIQ has a really unique internship program. You’re doing meaningful work (I still haven’t gotten anyone coffee), and are spending a lot of time learning. It’s essentially school with real clients. I’m excited to watch myself grow and see how I can contribute down the road.
#3 – My Opinion And Creative Direction Is Encouraged.
I love strategy.
I love sitting down, auditing a brand, and coming up with creative ways to tell their story.
I’ve had the chance to sit down for a few strategy meetings with colleagues so far, and each time has been remarkably mentally satisfying.
Best of all, when I have an idea about how something could be improved, not only do I feel like my opinion is welcome, but if it’s a legitimate solution to a problem, it gets implemented.
I’m a big believer that discussing tricky subjects is better than dishonest harmony (though I also give better advice than I follow). It’s fantastic when egos can be put aside and critique is encouraged for the sake of better work.
I feel I can really grow as a marketer at ElementIQ, due to the fact that I’m actually trusted to experiment, try things the way I think they could work, and own the results. There’s always help if I ask for it, but I have the freedom to take ownership of tasks as I see fit.
Is there a better, more efficient way to approach something we do often? I can go ahead and create a manual for that. Is there an outdated page that could use a touch-up? I’m free to tackle that myself.
There are many ways to step up to the plate and take projects to the next level. At its core, it seems that many of ElementIQ’s foundations are built on pillars of self-initiative.
As I mentioned earlier, I come from a blue-collar background where you’re usually waiting for someone to tell you what to do all day. Giving employees the freedom to approach situations as they see fit is a fantastic policy that has only boosted my confidence in my own skills, both in and out of work.
If you’re looking for a mentally stimulating career that isn’t going anywhere, consider digital marketing. With all the noise that’s generated every day, the ability to create content that people care about is becoming increasingly valuable. Learning how to do that is my obsession, and I’m forever thankful ElementIQ is taking a chance by giving me a shot.