Celine’s First Week In The ElementIQ Internship Program!

One of the benefits stated on the hiring page of the Internship Program is “Learn by DOING (your classmates won’t be learning these important marketing skills at their jobs).” The moment I read this, I know I had to apply for the ElementIQ Internship Program.

Starting my career in a marketing agency has always been the goal ever since I found my passion in marketing. It is no doubt that I have limited experience, but I am always eager to learn and grow. I was seeking for a company that would provide me with a positive learning environment.

At ElementIQ, that opportunity is present where I could make real contributions from day one. Because only by doing can you find your real passion. So, let me bring you to the start line.

The Intern

Sorry for the downer, but this ain’t a Hollywood-polished storyline of a 70-year-old bored retiree going out of his way to start an internship in a youngsters-dominated company, nor am I Anne Hathaway. This is actually more exciting than that. Okay, maybe not the latter, but certainly the former.

On a freezing morning in late November, I slung on my charming bright orange backpack to enter a significantly spacious coworking space called Spacekraft as the new intern hustler to join the tight team at ElementIQ.

I arrived at 10am (start-up perks #YAS), only to be turned down during my first chat-in with Lincoln that we actually start at 9 (JK. The early bird catches the worm). My commitment with them is working 2 to 3 days in the office, and then the other days remotely. Why do another internship as a fresh grad after completing 3 semesters of internships during your school period, you ask?

As a fresh graduate from SFU FCAT with background experience in social media and creative writing, I was more intrigued by the possibility of exploring my career options early on. I prefer to think on my feet and be accountable for a variety of duties than just focusing on the same daily duties.

Contrary to popular belief, my duties do not include standing in front of a photocopy machine for hours. Although this is how cool our photocopy machine looks like:

Nor does it include brewing coffee just to kill time until the clock hits 5pm. Starting as an intern with an agency is more rewarding than you might prematurely perceive and you’ll see why.

Here’s the outline of my first week:

Dia UNO (Day 1)

This is a sneak peek at what a chunk of my training agenda looks like:

**10 am**
* Welcome!! with Ramesh and Lincoln 🙂

* We will always make things right.

* Admin – hours – lunch – payroll review – equipment – supplies – washroom – garbage – expenses – Spacekraft – Huddle at 9:08 each day – HubSpot Learning – ideas/questions?!

* Google Apps setup and walkthrough

* Email, Calendar, and Docs

* Quip setup and walk-through

* TW setup and walk-through

* Slack setup and walk-through

* Paperwork, etc

* TAKE LOTS OF NOTES!

* Work on your Bio for the website (HOMEWORK)

* DistilledU as a resource

* Good Apps to install (HOMEWORK)

* Check out Stencil and Canva

* Internship Program First Week Blog Post (HOMEWORK)

* What to subscribe to? Marketing Land, Search Engine Land, Moz Top 10, HubSpot Blog

Note that this is the agenda only for 10AM, not the entire first day. Upon setting up my email and Slack, my colleague Ramesh presented my full first week agenda on Quip. It is broken down into time slots of what I’m going to learn and be assigned each day. To start off, I needed to get the flow of how the team operates and communicates.

I could see right away that they are very effective in everything they do, from logging tasks to filing things where they are supposed to go. For example, they have approximately 30 channels on Slack, each designated to a specific client and other relevant topics.

Another tool that I find useful is Teamwork. You can easily keep track of accomplished and upcoming tasks by logging in your work time through Teamwork. When you’re done, simply check it off and it will automatically take it off the list. It feels as good as physically striking things off your to-do list.

Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?

Overall, the tasks are exciting while appropriately challenging. Which is why it’s extremely important to stick to deadlines while progressing at your comfortable pace. Tracking the time of how much you spend on each task will allow you to be able to review your productivity and adjust your pace if necessary.

Dia DOS (Day 2)

*This is the second time I came into the office that week, but technically was my third day.

Growing up as a wired Millenial, I would have thought that all these apps are self-explanatory, lessening the need to take a lot of notes. I was wrong. The next day I couldn’t figure out where the link to the Google Hangout for the team’s daily huddle was.

Lesson learned: With the amount of information you have to absorb on the first day, your brain will thank you later if you jot down all the important information. There is especially a significant amount of new material to absorb.

Day 2 is when the real lessons begin. My agenda was packed with learning the basics of SEO, Local Search Marketing, and Website Development. All of which I have never learned before. Fortunately, Payman, Vikram, and Lincoln have excellent teaching methods. They incorporate relatable elements in their explanations, making it easier to grasp how these strategies work.

For instance, Payman, our Inbound Marketing Strategist, underlines that “Linking is king.” But in leveraging your credibility and mentions from authority sources, you need to make sure that your site provides quality content. The point is, I aimed to connect the dots between what I already knew and what I was currently learning. In this case, between content marketing and SEO.

Learning new things this way makes it easier to understand how each element complements each other on the periodic table of digital marketing that we live by at ElementIQ.

A Few Key Takeaways From The Internship:

1. Ask questions! Always try to think on your feet and come up with hypothetical cases to easily understand what you are learning.

2. Don’t forget your notes. Jotting them down is only the first step, reviewing them is a major key that should be followed.

3. Read great books and articles. Stay curious. Stay humble, and don’t be afraid to stumble.

In the upcoming weeks, I look forward to checking off more and more tasks on my Teamwork dashboard.

Inbound Marketing Internship – End Of The Line

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:

Local Search

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.

Information Management

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.

Monthly Reporting

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.

Training Presentations

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.

Closing Thoughts

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.

Halfway Milestone – The Inbound Marketing Internship

‘Change is the only Constant in Life’ – Heraclitus

Don’t we all know this? Don’t we see it all around us? And yet, are not many of us afraid of change? The reason I reflect on change as the opening to this blog is because ‘change’ is such a visible constant in the Digital Industry. As an example – Google, Facebook, and Twitter are constantly in the news for evolving their algorithms. Such changes require Digital Marketers to persistently keep themselves updated.

To be successful in this industry, I strongly recommend following knowledge-leaders in this field by subscribing to their blogs and following them on twitter or other platforms. Some of the people/organizations we follow include Neil PatelNoah KaganMarketing LandHubSpot Academy, and Moz to name a few. And I thought the school was done – who was I kidding?

Introduction

With that opening discourse, let me move back to reflecting on the Internship Program at ElementIQ Internet Marketing. In my first blog post, I wrote about my background and the reasons for choosing an Inbound Marketing Agency for an Internship. In the second post, I shared some of my major contributions. Now, 2 months have passed since I joined the program and with that, I am halfway through this journey.

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you are flirting with the idea of choosing digital marketing as a career or you are an agency/company contemplating incorporating an Internship program yourself. Given that is true, I believe there are two things that you are most interested in knowing:

  1. What the Internship program entails?
  2. What is the company like?

With those two questions in mind, I intend to first reflect briefly on the program in a personal context so that you get a glimpse of the training and assignments. Second, I will share my observations and opinions about the company in an organizational context.

The following is the blog-post-architecture:

Blog-post-architecture-2

Personal Context

Citations – The First Project

  • The Project

The first major project assigned to me was to understand and master the skill of citation building. Citations (as I had mentioned in my earlier post) in the context of SEO, are having your business information listed on various online directories like the Yellow Pages. This is a task that requires one to be tedious and meticulous and, by all means, is not very thought provoking. However, the exercise has made me gain new perspectives on the online world and taught me invaluable lessons in project management.

  • Why Citations?

As mundane as the task of citation building may sound, it has been thoughtfully chosen as a key focus area of the Internship. This is because building citations gives you hands-on-experience in helping businesses rank in local search. This ties in with the lessons you learn in search engine optimization (SEO) and gives you greater familiarity with the Google search algorithms. These insights will be very useful when you get down to creating digital marketing strategies.

The Training

  • Cross-Job-Training

There are many roles within a digital marketing team – Web Developers, Social Media Managers, Content Marketers, SEO specialists, Data Scientists etc. There is a good chance that you may be more inclined towards one domain as compared to another. However, there is a remarkable connection between the various functions and hence, collaboration has become very important. To foster more effective collaboration, one is trained in all departments and functions.

  • What Are You Good For?

Once you reach the mid-point of the Internship, you would have completed many of the planned training sessions. Moving forward, one gets to choose his/her area of interest for more specialized training. Personally, I am finding this choice a tad-bit-hard as the desire is to specialize in everything.

The Start-Up Advantage – Opportunity To Take Initiatives

  • Contribute To The Core

As organizations grow, roles and responsibilities get better defined. But, when a company is still in the stage of infancy to childhood, there are tremendous opportunities to take initiative. Systems and strategy are continually evolving and working in a start-up can give you the opportunity to contribute to the very core of an organization.

  • The Spirit Of Intrapreneurship

Most entrepreneurs start with identifying pain-points and creating solutions around the same. Successful and efficient solutions can become long-lasting businesses. Similar to this approach, I identified certain pain-points when it came to the ease of accessing information. This led me to take the initiative of creating a better system for management of information. The fact that many start-ups allow for an individual to flex his/her entrepreneurial muscles without assuming the risk of owning one’s own business has led to great job satisfaction for me.

Organizational Context

  • History & Evolution

I take great interest in the history and evolution of an organization. LocalTrifecta was founded in 2010 as an Internet Marketing agency with the focus on helping small-to-medium size businesses. The focus remained the same, but the scope and quality of service kept increasing as the company moved from being a general SEO agency to becoming an Inbound marketing agency. Interestingly, Sam had a background in communications and finance and the world of Internet marketing was all new to him. Yet, with relentless reading, he learned a new language. Today, he corresponds fluently with web developers & designers, SEO specialists, content marketers, and social media marketers. This is an inspiring trait that has remarkably influenced the learning culture of the organization.

  • The Forward March

Things are constantly changing in the digital marketing industry as I said at the very beginning of the post. Old ways constantly become redundant making it necessary to get new knowledge. Since its inception, the company has grown to learn the best practices in the industry and has recently started offering a much more comprehensive partnership to clients. We understand that many moving parts have to come together to make a digital strategy successful. Hence, we are choosing to become a full-service digital marketing agency in the near future, incorporating many of the philosophies of Inbound Marketing.

  • Structured for Success

To be successful in this industry, I cannot emphasize enough on adopting a lean and flexible organizational structure. Adaptability to change is a key success factor and with all things digital being so inter-linked, collaboration and teamwork have become more important than ever before. At LocalTrifecta, we all work together in one big room. Not only that, but we also practice cross-job-training. Knowing each other’s strengths, weaknesses, the scope of work and major challenges significantly promotes greater effectiveness and efficiency.

Discipline & Accountability

  • Rules and Regulations

Let me give you a little inside scoop of the work culture at our place. In an office vibrant with jeans and t-shirts, music and humor, X-Box and Jenga – we are just here to have a good time – or are we? Here, there is no concept of micro-management or a long list of formal rules and regulations. Liberal as it may be though, everyone is expected to take interest and follow through with what is expected of them.

  • I Owe Me

Working with a limited number of people on a variety of clients means there are always things to do. With each member assuming a range of responsibilities, work discipline has to be intrinsic to your nature to be successful in this role. You are your own person here, and you owe yourself accountability.

  • Organize To Multi-Task

The learning curve is steep, especially in the first month. But as you transition from learning to contributing – be prepared to Multi-task. Apart from focusing on the main projects that are assigned to me, I am also involved with a number of other deliverables. Recently, I have spent a considerable time in optimizing blog posts and creating digital presentations. Things can get confusing after a while. To ease through the process, I recommend maintaining notes and using organizational tools like to-do lists.

The Highs And Lows Of An Internet Marketing Agency

  • Instant Versus Delayed Gratification

At LocalTrifecta, we build and manage the online reputation for our clients. The World Wide Web is a very intricate mesh where the cause and effect of actions may not be immediately visible. This makes client interactions especially interesting. We offer our services without the obligation of a long-term contract. Hence, every month we present monthly reports to our clients. Often times, however, the results of site-page improvements, blogs, citations etc take time to reflect positive impacts. Clients, for obvious reasons, want to see results. And when the results are not immediately apparent, it can get difficult to justify investments.

  • The X-Agency Mess

Another low of the Internet marketing world are unreal results that certain agencies claim to offer. We serve a few clients now who had previously hired agencies that promised top results on search pages in the first month for example. In doing so, they engaged in manipulative tactics to produce inorganic results. Doing so overwhelmed the clients initially, but in the long run, it had a severe negative impact to their online reputation. Think of it as being in an illegal business – it can be very rewarding at first but extremely damaging in time. Cleaning up the mess created by someone else is a huge challenge and not a very fun one to deal with.

  • Partner To A Success Story

Before joining LocalTrifecta, I had met most of the individuals working here. I had asked them to describe the company mission statement. The unanimous response was – adding value to clients, everyday. Being partner to a client’s success story is the biggest high of the Internet marketing agency, one that makes all challenges feel like minor obstacles.

Closing Thoughts

Based on demand and supply, CareerBuilder partnered with Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) to compile a list of the best jobs for 2015. Marketing executive featured at the top of the list in an article published on Business Insider. For a career in marketing, it is imperative that you get experience in digital media and there is no better experience than agency experience.

The Internship program at LocalTrifecta is a wonderful opportunity to get training and hands-on-experience in digital marketing for SME’s. It is also a great opportunity to work with young professionals who are passionate and talented in the trade. If you are considering this as a viable option, I encourage you to research further by reading other blogs and networking with industry professionals.

Week 1—My Inbound Marketing Agency Internship

Marketing_agency_office_seating

My name is Preeya Grewal and I’m the new Inbound marketing intern at ElementIQ Internet Marketing. Since I graduated from university in 2012, I have coveted a marketing agency position and I’m overjoyed that ElementIQ hired me as an intern! My goal for the next 4 months is to soak in as much information as possible and provide a valuable contribution to this great team. My first week has consisted mostly of learning and observation and I’d like to share some of the things that I found most interesting in my first 5 days here.

HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification

This is the Inbound Marketing software platform that ElementIQ uses. HubSpot offers a free inbound marketing certification course and my colleague Ramesh suggested I take the course prior to my interview. At 11 courses and approximately 15 hours of preparation time—this was a daunting prospect for me. As I began delving into the course, however, I found the content itself to be fascinating and easy to digest. I couldn’t be more grateful that I was introduced to the course because the content is invaluable and extremely useful for anyone starting a career in this line of work. You’re given 3 chances per month to take the test and when you pass, you can display your new Inbound Marketing certification on LinkedIn, on your resume or just use it for bragging rights!

Having taken the course before starting my internship has definitely been helpful in understanding key philosophies, best practices and terminology. The first few days at a new job are already enough of a shock to the system, so having even a bit of familiarity with the material has made a world of a difference to me. You can find the course here.

Seating Arrangement

ElementIQ has an open office seating arrangement­—this is a first for me. The disruption of the traditional office set-up and its rising popularity—specifically for new tech companies has intrigued me. I always wondered what it would be like to work in this sort of space compared to a cubical or office. I’ve questioned whether this kind of set-up could potentially disrupt workflow or concentration given the potential of simultaneous conversations going on at any given time.

Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?

After a week in an open office setting, I have to say that I enjoy it. This set-up has been conducive in getting to know my colleagues better, getting familiar to the technical terminology, and easing into the company culture. I asked some of my new colleagues how they like this set-up and from their answers, I’ve gathered that it allows for better teamwork and collaboration and helps everyone get to know one other better. One of the biggest benefits of this setup for this office has to be that it promotes information sharing which is important and necessary to the ElementIQ team. I’ll delve more into this in the next section.Marketing_agency_office_seating

Information Sharing

Information sharing is imperative to this team. More so, in fact, than any team I’ve worked with in the past. It’s a necessary part of the job and integral for servicing each client efficiently. Each team member specializes in 1 or 2 specific channels of Inbound Marketing and depending what each client’s needs are, usually 2 or more team members are responsible for servicing any given client. There are a number of applications used in this office to enable inter-office communications and information sharing.

  • Slack is a real-time messaging app with one-on-one messaging, private groups, and group chats organized by topic, among other things. All conversations are archived and there is a search function. This team uses Slack for general updates on clients and for keeping in the loop about office news and activities.
  • Basecamp is used to keep track of specific project updates. It includes features like to-do lists, assigning activities to various collaborators, document sharing and information management.
  • Highrise is used to house client communication, tasks and notes. When a team member has any sort of communication with a client, they send that information to Highrise where the rest of the team can access it if need be.
  • Google Drive store files through secure cloud storage and file backup for photos, videos, files and more. Here, the team can share folders that contain important files about specific clients so everyone can have access to these files at all times.

Staying In The Loop

The first week of a new job is usually intimidating for new hires and it’s no different for me. Considering how much I need to learn, I do feel pressure to get up to speed and be able to not only comprehend the conversations going on around me but to actually engage in said conversations at some point! I’m feeling optimistic that I’ll get there, not only because of how fascinating I find the content but because of the graciousness and patience I’ve experienced from the team in my first week.

Part of this learning process will involve a lot of self-study, along with all the learning I’m doing at work. The marketing and technology landscape is constantly changing and although I already try my best to stay informed, I know I‘ll be altering my personal media diet to help myself stay in the loop. Ramesh has recommended some informative marketing blogs for me to start reading—Marketing Land, HubSpot, Moz Top 10, Unbounce—to name a few and I’ve been listening to marketing podcasts on my way to and from work to facilitate my learning.

Studying_with_laptop

Learning Can Be Fun!

Since I have never directly worked with most Inbound Marketing channels, I have spent the first week reading about, receiving lessons in and researching different facets of Inbound Marketing. The nuances of all the Inbound Marketing channels and how they fit together to provide a successful marketing strategy is extremely interesting and I’m fortunate that I get to learn from experts who are passionate about what they do. While I am taking in a substantial amount of information, not the least of it is dry. The more I take in, the more eager I am to continue learning and to eventually apply this to my work and this makes me excited about my next 4 months here at ElementIQ!

One Month In – The Inbound Marketing Internship Continues

As it currently stands, we are a group of 5-7 members who sit in one large enough room with 8 tables joined together, glass windows on one side and a giant whiteboard on the other. There is also a boardroom, the main office, an entertainment room and a kitchen. Apart from the core members of the team, we also work with freelance content writers, web designers, and AdWords specialists. With over 20 clients, the one unanimous need that echoes around the company is the desire to have more hours in a day. Welcome to the world of a growing Internet Marketing Start-up – one which has hustled and bustled its way through a competitive Industry and is starting to gain traction, reputation, and credibility.

Loving-the-LocalTrifecta-Inbound-Marketing-Internship-Program

A Month In And This Is How It Feels

Having joined the company in the middle of December 2014, I was lucky to be part of a grand Christmas dinner hosted by Sam (the founder). The post-meal conversations drifted into reminiscing the previous years and articulating the goals and focus for the New Year. Everyone at the dinner other than me had been with the company for over two years and they all consensually agreed that the company has done better year on year. Each person felt the quality of clients and the quality of work has consistently improved and moving into 2015, the strategic focus of the company is better defined. The goal for the New Year, Sam emphasised, will be to streamline operations and be better organized. Those words were like music to my ear as it played right to my strengths and I will, with pride, reflect on my contributions in the month.

Once a week, normally on Monday morning, we all get together for a ‘Huddle’. This is a team meeting where we discuss priorities for the week and each member is asked to share his/her big Wins in the prior week. Sticking to that note let me share my big Wins over the month:

Big Win Number 1

The first major project assigned to me was to learn, build, and manage citations for clients; a key component of Local Search Engine Optimization. Citations, in the context of SEO, are having your business information listed on the various directories like Yellow Pages on the Internet. They help Google determine the online authority of your business. Doing so requires you to be meticulous, prudent and attention oriented. It’s nicknamed ‘the Citation Hell’ in our company and every Intern has had to go through it before being baptised and redeemed.

Hell, however, is not all that brutal with well-designed spreadsheets. Managing citations has helped me score my first big win in this company. The approach I took to it has built on the legacy of my ancestors. We are now on the brink of a comprehensive system that would ensure consistency across multiple directories and enable more effective management of information. I have also created a Citation Bible that would accelerate the learning process of the ones after me to whom this legacy will be passed on to.

Big Win Number 2

When you work in a start-up, you have to be prepared to wear multiple hats. So of course, citations have not been my only job responsibility. The next big responsibility assigned to me was to generate monthly reports for all clients. In doing so, I have gotten better acquainted with all of our clients and their expectations. What I have enjoyed most is that people are open to suggestions for improvements and they always welcome your opinions.

Reporting is another extremely important aspect of what we do and we are looking to get more efficient in being timely and qualitative. With the help of Spreadsheets (again), and using Raven (a software that connects to Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Social Networks and various other platforms), this will be yet another Big Win for me. I foresee a radical improvement in the process with the work I have done in collaboration with the other members of the company.

Big Win Number 3

It is my understanding that companies get successful when they are able to create SYSTEMs that work and are easy to duplicate. A wise man defined SYSTEM using an acronym – Save Yourself Time Energy and Money. With so many documents floating around containing various forms of information, I took it upon myself to create a Centralized Information System. This is yet another major accomplishment and I have received positive feedback for the spreadsheet (yes, you heard that right) that I created. It holds a lot of important information in one place and has internal links to other useful spreadsheets and documents that we refer to – making it yet another Big Win.

Back To The Inbound Marketing Training

The Inbound Marketing Internship is as much about contributing as it is about on-the-job training. Of late, we on-boarded a client with the vision, belief and potential to go from zero to a billion dollars in turnover in 2-5 years. We run their Inbound Marketing Campaign – designing and developing their website, creating landing pages, and managing social media. Needless to say, every member of our company has gotten busier than ever before managing all the other clients and the multitude of expectations of this new client. This back-tracked us a little in terms of the training goals as time is a limited commodity.

However, we are starting to get back in line with our goals and have started scheduling training sessions again to learn more about Social Media Management, Content Marketing and the technical side of Search Engine Optimization etc. I have also begun preparing for the Google AdWords certification and hopefully, by the time I publish my next blog post, I will be certified and can reflect on the same as a BIG WIN.

Final Thoughts

In the beginning, when I began my internship here, I was uncertain about what I could bring to the table and how I could be valuable. I had never published blogs on HubSpot or WordPress, never done SEO audits of Web sites, never worked on Google AdWords, never created landing pages and had no real experience in providing any of the services that the agency offers to its clients. During my first week, the training and the introduction to the plethora of tools and software was a little overwhelming. However, it did not take me long to find my place in this company and I would credit that to the people in this company who I find to be extremely friendly and supportive. Nobody is micro-managed here but the guidance provided has helped me make positive contributions to the company.

Digital Marketing is becoming a growing focus for businesses of all types and sizes and there is hardly a better place than a dedicated Digital Marketing agency to learn about the tricks of the trade in the digital world. This is the primary reason that I pursued this Internship as a career choice and with over a month having passed, I have had no regrets whatsoever. I am grateful to Sam and every member of the team here at ElementIQ Internet Marketing for having given me this opportunity and taking the time to nurture me. There is still a long way to go, a lot to learn and much to accomplish and as suggested by my friend J.Walker, I shall keep walking!

Five Days A Week – The Internship Begins

The charts and numbers on the board are starting to make sense. The scattered notepads, documents, and books on the table are suggestive of work-in-progress. A week into the Internship program at ElementIQ and the office space is starting to feel more like a second home. Here in this blog post, I will begin with the story of myself and how I got here. Then, I will briefly summarize what the first week of working here entailed along with some of my key observations and final thoughts.

Introduction – Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire

’27 Hours Of Flying Leaving 27 Years Of Life Behind’

I came to Vancouver, Canada in August 2013 as a student of the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program at Simon Fraser University (SFU) – Beedie School of Business after having lived most of my life in Mumbai, India.

With a Bachelors in Management Studies and over five years of experience as a Sales and Marketing professional, my intention was to gain exposure to the Western education system and work ethics, meet some amazing people and enhance my career in Marketing. My career had started as a Sales executive for a highly reputable ball pen manufacturing brand and soon I grew to accept broader responsibilities of Brand Management as an Assistant manager.

This was followed by three years of working with a start-up in the IT Services Industry where my primary responsibility was Business Development through client acquisition and retention. Here I led a Sales team, managed the Marketing and did all I could to keep the business running and stay profitable.

‘Further Education In Search For Enlightenment’

The MBA at SFU was an eye opener to a higher level of business thinking as it was a well-designed program to strengthen the foundational concepts of business, challenge analytical and critical reasoning and enhance people and project management skills amongst other things. Some people enroll in this program to change Industries while others do so to enhance their career in their Industry. Me, I had discovered my love for Marketing early on and that affection continues to grow.

‘Education Is A Curtain Raiser – Time For The Real World’

After completing the academic study requirements in August 2014, I took the time to strategize my career based on where I want to be in two to five years from now and what I should do to get there. In time, I aspire to be a Brand Manager for a successful multi-national brand. Reading the requirements for such a position made it clear to me that I needed experience in Digital Marketing.

From here on, I met a number of Industry professionals and kept an eye out for openings in the Digital Advertising agencies in Vancouver. Being that I was clear on what I wished to do, I was referred to Mr. Samuel Araki (Sam), the founder of ElementIQ, an Inbound Marketing Agency based out of Surrey. Almost immediately, I set up an informational interview with him and was invited to his office to meet with him. We spoke on a variety of subjects including his background, the company history, challenges, opportunities and the strategic direction of the business. It also gave me the chance to introduce myself and Sam had me meet the rest of the people (core team) in the company, a group of three young, sharp, talented and skilled individuals and another Intern. He even took me on a tour to a bigger office space that he has purchased and is currently renovating along with the Crossfit gym of which he is a half-owner too.

Next day, I sent in my application to the company for the paid Internship program and soon enough a series of interactions with Sam followed. Over a month, we finalized the offer and decided upon my joining date. During this time, Sam also suggested that I get the general Inbound Marketing Certification from Hubspot (well worth the time). December 10th, 2014 was to be my first day in office.

Week 1 Of The Internship Program

Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?

‘What Does Not Kill You, Only Makes You Stronger’

Starting out on day one included a tour of the facilities, policies, and a thorough look at the Inbound Marketing process by Ramesh (Content Marketing Specialist). I was also taken out for Lunch by Sam and Lincoln (the Senior Accounts Manager) and we ordered lavishly eating Calamari, Prawns, Chicken, and Beef. A great lunch indeed followed by lots of reading (Beginners Guide To SEO by Moz – A fine article to read on an empty stomach). That was a difficult afternoon to keep awake until we transitioned into further training with Ramesh.

The next day, I was introduced to the various softwares being used by the company for Project Management and Internal Communication. Also, I was impressed as Ramesh shared a document with me highlighting the schedule for seven straight weeks. They would include getting acquainted with all the clients, the various softwares, and most importantly – an in depth learning of all the components of the Inbound process – SEO, Social Media, Content, Analytics, Conversion Rate Optimization, and Pay-per-click Advertising.

Day 3 and onwards, I continued to settle into the fast-pace of working in this Internet Marketing Agency and started to get assigned certain tasks such as building a monthly report for a client and building a spreadsheet. I also began to get comfortable with using the plethora of softwares and tools being used by the company (Hubspot, Slack, Raven, Basecamp, Highrise and Sidekick to name a few).

Key Observations

‘The Fool On The Hill See’s The Sun Going Down’

  • For a start-up, it is fascinating to see how well they have organized themselves. While not perfect, the foundation pillars seem strong enough to support sustainable growth.
  • Every member of the team is an expert in their domain and continues to strive to become a thought-leader through on going education and practice. I am also particularly inspired by each individual’s credentials, passion, and intelligence.
  • The mission of the company is to add value to each of their clients and this has been internalized by every employee.
  • Nobody raises an eyebrow for trivial things like showing up a few minutes late to work as long as you’re on top of your game and do the things required of you. And there is always something to do which often makes people stay back after office hours at their own free will.
  • They prefer XBOX to Playstation and are highly competitive in NHL 15.

Closing Thoughts

‘The Time Is Gone, The Song Is Over, Thought I’d Something More To Say..’

My enthusiasm and excitement of being part of ElementIQ is growing with each passing day. I continue to get better acquainted with all the team members and their expertise and am starting to feel more useful as time goes by. I joined the Internship program with the goal ofhyper-learningg, practicing and contributing and it feels to me that the program will exceed my expectations. Personally, I hope to reciprocate by doing all that it takes to help the company while it continues to prosper in the growth stage of it’s life cycle and add value to it’s clients. Finally, I must say that it is not always easy to progress in your career after you move to a new country more than 10,000 kilometers away with no family, friends or support structure. For this reason, I am ever so grateful to Sam for giving me the opportunity to intern in his company and I look forward to the coming weeks and months.

Sunday - A hard earned holiday

See, Learn, Do: Inbound Marketing – My First Week At ElementIQ

As I am sitting here thinking about what to write, all I can think about is how excited I am about this new experience with ElementIQ. The past three months I have experienced a lot of life changes such as graduating college, then understanding how it feels being an unemployed degree holder, moving out of my childhood house to a new part of town, and lastly – willingly starting CrossFit for the first time, where you basically sign on the dotted line to get your butt kicked on the daily basis. But then, all these series of events had led me to the office of ElementIQ.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. One day I was working out at the gym and my boyfriend said that there was a guy I needed to meet because he has his own company that dealt with Internet Marketing. At this time I was desperately looking for a job, but I was looking elsewhere and I thought I had other opportunities lined up. But, to satisfy my boyfriend and to let him know I appreciate his help, I was going to talk to this guy. This guy ended up being Sam Araki.

I met Sam at the gym and we got to talking. I explained my past knowledge/education, my niche for social media, and that I really needed a job. This is where I learned about the internship program. He said to post my resume and email him. Literally three days later, I had my interview with Ramesh and Lincoln.

Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?

When I sat down with them, they explained to me what they did and the purpose of Inbound Marketing. The more and more I listened; the more and more I was intrigued; then the more and more I knew I wanted this position.

Within the next two weeks, I found out I was employed and that I could finally put my degree, that I worked my butt off for four years for, to good use. So now, I have to thank my boyfriend and the fact that I took up CrossFit, for being able to be where I am today. What I wanted to outline in my debut blog post was my first (exciting, crazy, tiring, joyful) week at ElementIQ as an intern.

Monday, Welcome To The Family:

The Agenda:

-Welcome:  -Admin, supplies, tour, payroll, paperwork, phones expenses, ect.. -Google+, Gmail, apps. docs -Basecamp, Highrise -Work on Bio -Find ElementIQ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+, then follow us/like us/ect

-Install fun apps! – (Pocket, screenshot, Mozbar, WebRank SEO

LUNCH!!!!

1 pm: -Client walkthrough, and client schedule

3-4:30pm: -Learn HUBSPOT!

My first impression of this: WOW, THAT’S A LOT TO ABSORB. YOU LOST ME AT WELCOME!

But, this was not the case. The workday flowed very well after meeting all the great staff members and getting copious amounts of advice from them.  Once I was logged into all of the companies platforms, I started following some marketing and social media blogs like the Social Media Examiner, the Moz Blog, the HubSpot Blog, and much more. Then I started reading the ElementIQ blogs just to learn a little bit more about the company, their style, popular topics, ect.. I was very impressed with their blogs and their popularity. It made me excited to do my own stuff.

I had learned about the “fictional character” approach, as well. This is where you basically make a character for the company that you are trying to market. You are basically just surveying their target market and making up an ideal person that would use their product, or service, to be able to better your marketing approach.

The most mind-blowing experience, I think I have ever had, was learning about HubSpot! There is soooooo much going on that you literally are jaw-dropped at your home screen (In amazement..duhh!). I was really intrigued by HubSpot because it is very powerful. It is an all-in-one marketing tool. You can manage everything and anything from it including your website, social media, blogs, analytics, trends, pages, links ect. It is a godsend for inbound marketing companies like us. I still have a lot more to learn about it, but I’m excited about it; but more excited to start using it!

Then as soon as I knew it, my day was over! It went by very fast, probably because of all the information is thrown at me. I don’t think I have ever heard the word SEO more in one day of my life!

Tuesday, Lets Test How Much You Can Read:

Tuesday was a reading day. I haven’t read that much since my finals week in school. I started the day off reading, and I ended the day off reading. Everything from SEO, to PPC, to Citations. I also had to partake on my first test since college! (When you graduate form college you would think you would be done with tests, right?…WRONG!)

After a long day of reading and learning, I took away from it all with the knowledge that inbound marketing is so important these days for companies and other businesses. It is way more effective today than outbound marketing. This is because society is becoming immune to constantly having ads in their face and with all the technology these days nobody pays attention to even commercials; they will just fast-forward through them.

With inbound marketing, it is fascinating to see all of the platforms of PPC, SEO, Social Media, Blogging, ect. all fall into place simultaneously with each other.

One thing I really liked learning about was the sales funnel. You have the “Top of the Funnel” where first timers visit your site. If these people continue on crawling/show interest in your site they become a “Middle of the Funnel” lead. Then once they give you a call, email, their name,or any personal information related to your site they keep moving down to the “Bottom of the Funnel. Lastly, when purchases are made, they are a customers and not a lead anymore. This is quite interesting to learn about.

Wednesday, Learn Some Citations:

This was a way more exciting day for me. I finally was able to get going on some hands on learning! Citations were the task at hand for the day. Citations are crucial for marketing and getting your business recognized because these are what will pop up, other than your website, for people to contact your business. Some examples are Yellowpages, Google+ (My Business), Manta, Yelp ect..

These sites have all of your contact information, website, and sometimes reviews. These are important referrals for your customers.  When I paired up with Lincoln, we went over how to make citations and how to correct them. He also explained to me how it ties into the other parts of the inbound channels, which is very important.

In addition to citations, I had begun making my first scheduled Tweets! This was my favorite part! I love social media, so when I can research something really cool and make a great post about it, it makes me happy.

Thursday, PPC Is As Easy As 1,2,3 (NOT!):

Thursday was a fun, yet a complex time, for me at ElementIQ. I had been paired up with Drew, the PPC guy, to go over PPC (who would have thought?). PPC is pay-per-click, aka Google Adwords. This is where businesses purchase ads and have a bid for their ad to shop up on the first page of a relevant Google Search. If this ad shows up, and someone clicks on it, the business will pay a fee. As well, if this person clicks on their ad, and the ad has relevance to them, and they are digging more into the landing page; Google will rank your ads better and therefore will more likely show your ads.

The key for Adwords are keywords. Keywords are the little phrases/words you put into your campaign to have you ad show up when someone searches for something in the businesses field. This was very complex for me to understand because there are so many things going on and so many ways to do it! Google is a massive beast! And a smart one at that!

Finally, after getting a grasp of that massive, smart, beast; I was able to do some ads myself! I had fixed up two ads that were not getting enough clicks or impressions. It will be cool to see new analytics next week for those ads! Working with Drew was a very knowledgeable day. It was really neat to finally see how PPC really worked for companies, and to physically see analytic numbers to prove a good PPC can make a huge difference in a business!

Friday!!!!!-Don’t Get Too Excited, It’s SEO Day:

Oh glorious Friday, I had finally made it through my first week as an intern! But, before the weekend hit, I needed to have some much needed hands on learning with some SEO! Today was my day with Payman. He showed me the importance of SEO first hand.

First off, SEO is search engine optimization. So this is the keywords, meta-descriptions, headers, and content that will all be crawled by Google by the keywords you gave Google. It is amazing how one little word in your URL or header can change your search engine results.

You need to be very precise with the keywords and you want to avoid stuffing and thin content. Google will overlook you if this occurs, which is not good! That is why good content is so important when it comes to websites because you want to be recognized by Google and have a good ranking with them, so therefore, you can be found in the search. SEO will also tie in PPC.

By the end of the day, I was helping Ramesh and Payman redo a landing page for one of our clients. I think this is my second favorite thing to social media because I love taking something, and fixing it, to make it better! It was a lot of fun! Now..I can officially say I survived my first week at ElementIQ!

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THREE THINGS TO TAKE FROM MY FIRST WEEK:

  1. Any Question Is Not A Dumb Question!– Ask them all the time. Sometimes what you think is “dumb” is actually a really important question that interns will need to know.
  2. Content Is Key!– Content is so important for inbound marketing. You rely on content to keep whoever lands on your page to keep investigating your page and then keep flowing down the sales funnel. It is also important for Google to recognize your page with SEO and page rankings. I can not stress how important it is!
  3. Know Your Clients!– The more you get to know your clients on a personal level, and know how they operate, what they are about, and their target markets the better work you are going to be able to for them. You will see a higher ROI.

Here Are Some Other Great Guidelines To Use To Be A Great Intern!

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Courtesy of: Career Development Ctr SUNY Plattsburgh via. Pinterest.