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.