Exactly one month, three weeks and four days ago I started my internship at WEXO. Now from working here I know, statistically speaking, I’ve got three sentences to catch your interest before the vast majority of you type in Facebook and head off to stalk your mates instead. Read on and I’ll share with you what my internship has personally done for me, the new skills I’ve learned and what it’s like to work for a start up.
WEXO, you may be surprised to hear, has a core team of five people. You all know what it does so I won’t waste your time talking about that. My role is in ‘Business Development’, which de-jargoned means a bit of everything. Like many graduates straight out of University I had a general idea of where I wanted to go but little clue as to how to get started. The issue with having a general clue is that there aren’t many general jobs out there. It became clear to me that I needed to get some experience to help me decide where I’m going and help me get there. This is how I found WEXO and subsequently my current role.
So what does ‘Business Development’ entail for me? At WEXO I write the copy for the newsletter and blog, I manage the affiliate marketing campaign, I help track the analytics for the site and newsletter as well as general duties such as sending invoices and dealing with queries from both members and companies. One of the key aspects of working in a start up company is that your role is less defined, mainly because there is so much to do. In terms of experience, for those of you in a similar position to me at the end of uni, this is pretty perfect.
The first week or so I spent gleaning the general skills that everyone needs to survive in an office.
- Microsoft Excel. If The University Of Leeds is anything to go by we all probably did something like an ‘IT Tech Comms’ module at university in our first year. The issue here is that it was in my first year. It is highly unlikely I’m going to recall IF, LOOKUP and SUM functions for Excel if I can’t remember how I ended up in Edinburgh on that fateful Tuesday morning. On the job it is much easier to pick these things up when you learn that they can literally save you days worth of work.
- Outlook. Before working in an office there is probably no reason why you should ever have had to use it. Hotmail, gmail or your uni email will have sufficed for your weekly email check. This will all change as you will now spend every working hour checking and responding to emails. My top tip for Outlook is when dealing with queries or questions keep someone else informed of what you are doing. Do this by copying (cc) or by blind copying (bcc) people in to your emails. This way if you’re ever away or there is a query there is a record of interaction that can be checked.
- Coffee. You might not have drunk it much before you started working; you will drink it every day from now on. Learn how everyone in the office takes it. Success here can be used to get you involved with other more interesting things going on in the office later.
Once I was on top of the general office duties I got the chance to experience a wider variety of things. For me, I found the affiliate marketing particularly interesting and I was given greater scope to pursue this. I was sent on an Affiliate Windows seminar where I got an oversight of the value of this industry; roughly £3.8 billion in 2008, and its increasing prominence, it grew by 22% between 2007 and 2008. As well as this I was made aware of trends and techniques used in this market place by one of the biggest affiliate market programmes in the UK.
Writing copy for an internet audience was the next thing I found interesting and enjoyable. Every week, as you know, WEXO publishes a new blog and newsletter. In doing this I have built up a portfolio of writing that I can show anyone in the future. The constant practice has undoubtedly helped me further develop my writing style as well as familiarise me with HTML code. All these skills are hugely transferable and when added to my CV significantly enhanced my marketing know how. Keeping a regularly updated CV is another tip I would give to anyone. For those of you a little unsure on your career direction, adding your new skills to your CV can help you focus on where you are going. I didn’t set out to go into on-line marketing particularly, but from my current perspective, it is looking more like this is where I am naturally inclined.
My best tips for you are keep your ears and eyes open (clichéd but true) and make sure you speak up about what interests you. Interning has allowed me to assess my options by giving me firsthand experience of different roles; I think it should undoubtedly become a part of all uni degree courses. In fact, why it isn’t already is beyond me.