This is a guest post from Gradient Works' first-ever marketing intern - Allie Spratto. Allie is majoring in Corporate Communication and preparing to graduate from college at the end of the year. She'll be sharing her perspective here from time to time throughout the semester.
Last week was my first official week as a marketing intern at Gradient Works and let me tell you, I felt absolutely and completely underprepared.
As I read up on the industry and dove deeper into the complex world of marketing, I realized that I had no idea what I was reading most of the time. In fact, sometimes it took me reading the same information about a single concept three times in three separate articles to finally have an understanding of what that concept was. However, the more I read and took notes, I became more and more confident in my understanding of what I was reading and my ability to explain these concepts to someone if they asked me what I’ve been up to at work.
Speaking of what I’ve been up to, I’ve already learned so many valuable skills and lessons that are vital to being successful. Here are 4 things I’ve learned after just one week of working at my internship.
1. How to ask questions
I remember all throughout my 16 years of schooling how much I hated raising my hand to ask a question out of fear of sounding dumb. Now, I ask questions for just about everything. Whether it be about clarification, curiosity, or confusion, there’s a question that I’ll be asking. Sometimes I even find myself asking questions about things I know the answer to, just in case it means something different in the corporate world. I’ve learned that asking questions, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are actually a good thing, and you won’t be judged for needing to learn more about something.
2. How to navigate new tools
Before my internship I had never heard of software like HubSpot or Jira, and had hardly ever checked my LinkedIn account. I was an avid Twitter and Instagram user, and could navigate each of these sites with my eyes closed. Now, I spend a good chunk of time making connections on LinkedIn, and updating my profiles on these new sites. I’m constantly reading up on the latest news on marketing and revenue operations, and am becoming more knowledgeable about the field every day. I am glad to say I am finally understanding how each of these tools function, but there are still some things that can be a bit confusing at times. But hey, it’s only week one.
3. How much work goes into everything
One could argue that marketing is the most important part of any business. Without customer knowledge of your company, how would you ever make a sale? What the average person doesn’t realize, however, is how much thought and effort goes into marketing. Even the smallest things that may seem unimportant often require the most attention. For example, when looking at a company’s logo, the average person probably wouldn’t put much thought into it, and it’ll most likely just become a recognizable symbol for that customer. To a marketer, however, every little detail is taken into consideration: the color scheme, how dark or light it is, the font, font size, positioning of the logo on the page, etc.
Over the past few years, another obstacle has come up that must be taken into consideration when designing a logo: light mode and dark mode of a screen. What may seem like a perfect logo in light mode is all of a sudden leaping off of the screen in dark mode. Finding balance can be a difficult process. As Hayes Davis, co-founder of Gradient Works, joked, “Fiddling with logos is a core part of startup marketing.”
4. How much I didn't know
You’d think that as a Corporate Communication major I would be ready for the corporate world, and know all about the numerous terms that make up business jargon. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. With each new article I read, I find myself looking up at least 5 or 6 terms, especially acronyms. From learning what ROI, CRM, PPC, and B2B stand for, all the way to what a C-suite is, I have got my work cut out for me in memorizing all of these new phrases and adding them to my daily vernacular.
Getting an internship during your college career is so important, and is something I wish I had tried to do sooner. Having an internship to help with applying academic concepts to the real world is extremely beneficial, and could even help shape which classes you may want to take, or change your focus onto different subjects or academic tracks. If I had done this a year ago, I probably would have taken a marketing or business course as an elective, or even added on a minor. Waiting until my final semester to get some “real-world” experience was really cutting things close, and I wish I had pursued more opportunities like this in previous years.
As overwhelming as everything was at first, to say I’m excited for this opportunity would be an understatement. I’m thrilled to be working so closely with Jenn and Hayes, as I know I will learn a lot from them and their experiences. I am also especially eager to see what I can contribute to Gradient Works, and see if all of the studying and late nights I’ve encountered for the past 3 years has paid off.
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