I wrote last month for redPepper’s blog about how much we love internships (you can check out that blog here). They’re a really important part of our business and we love helping young Marketing professionals take their first steps in the industry!
Our most recent intern, Laura, has been with us this summer. She had recently moved back to the country from Brazil and I found her insight into the job market fascinating.
I asked Laura to put together some of her thoughts on how things are right now for newcomers to the industry. She also wrote a little bit about her internship at redPepper and how she found working with all of us.
So, take a look below and enjoy! I’m sure some of you, like me, will identify a lot with what she has to say.
Keep an eye out for future blogs from our interns.
Oh, and if you’re interested in interning with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Going with the flow
My theory is that there are three types of people in life:
1) Those who, from early on, have a good idea about their future careers. They are uncomplicated people that move seamlessly from one rung of the ladder to the next.
2) Those who know what they want but are restrained by personal circumstance or resources. They fall into other things and might take a while to get where they want to be.
3) Those that end up going with the flow because they’re unsure of where they fit.
The third one is me.
If you asked my family what my natural talents are, the answer would be performing arts and languages. However, I have a penchant for ‘rabbit holes’ and venturing outside my comfort zone. One of these holes took me to Brazil for 9 years and turned out to be the most defining experience of my life.
Brazil opened my eyes to a whole new world. I was able to use my talents in wildly different contexts: I taught English to foreigners with no prior experience; I had a brief stint in banking and foreign trade as a projects assistant; I was an actress in an educational sitcom for English learners; I was a fundraiser at a women’s shelter. I did all of this whilst working towards a degree in International Business, which was entirely in Portuguese.
Online job dating
I popped my head out of this particular ‘rabbit hole’ at the close of 2016 with a vast list of professional interests and experience.
Personal circumstances called me back to the UK, which was the perfect time to find my calling! I was eager to settle into one area and gain as much experience that I could.
I applied to a lot of different fields initially: events management, fundraising, hospitality, sales, marketing, and more. I used to look forward to job hunting when I was working on my dissertation, but it became disheartening sooner than I thought it would.
I trawled through pages and pages of online job descriptions circling listings cautiously. I would write the appropriate cover letters, update my CV to suit each potential job role, fill out the application forms and wait.
After all of this work, I expected to receive calls and invites to interview. That wasn’t the case, though. I started to doubt myself, as many graduates do. Why did that company never get back to me? Why did this company “decide to proceed with other candidates who meet their needs”? What ‘needs’ wasn’t I meeting?
redPepper to the rescue
It was in the midst of this slump that redPepper showed up in the most unconventional way.
I met Michelle Tennens, the founder and director of redPepper Marketing, at a dance workshop where she overheard my dilemma. She asked me to send my CV over and, within a few days, she asked if I was interested in getting some marketing experience.
I was ecstatic. It wasn’t the full-time job that I was craving, but it was an opportunity to gain lots of experience.
I was suddenly immersed in the world of marketing. I experienced the running of a profitable marketing agency and took part in the day-to-day activities: marketing strategy, copywriting, social media management, e-mail campaigns, web design, PPC management and reporting, etc.
While I accomplished many things during my time as an intern with redPepper, I realised that some of the most important experience I gained wouldn’t end up on my CV.
I learnt a lot about what I value as a professional.
Besides redPepper’s determination to do marketing honestly (one of the agency’s core values), I was particularly impressed by their workplace culture.
At redPepper, there’s a respect for professional individuality, teamwork, personal growth and work-life balance which permeates through the entire team.
It was a relief to realize that nobody expected me to be chained to my desk from 9-5. I was able to take regular short breaks to appease my ADHD tendencies. I’d play with the office Rubix cube whilst I pondered the next steps of the assignment I was working on or make spider diagrams with colourful sharpies. I could even prune the dead leaves in the office vegetable patch, take a power nap on the sofa, walk around in my bare feet, or make tea for the team.
These small breaks allowed me to focus my creative energies in a cathartic way. Before I knew it, I was able to refocus on my work with a renewed determination.
I also got to be part of a great team dynamic. When the going gets tough, the redPepper team buckle down. The atmosphere is thick with concentration and everyone is doing their part. When things get too serious, though, they always remember to come up for air. In these moments, there’s banter, tea-making, and deep debate about world events. Everyone values everyone else’s opinion.
In regard to the work itself, I enjoyed seeing how decisions were made through the lens of the agency’s values. If it didn’t reflect the company’s culture, it wasn’t done. There’s a deep care about the quality of work for the clients as well. They will frequently ask for feedback from loads of different team members to ensure their work is top-notch. Nobody works in their own silo.
Even though I wasn’t new to the job market when I joined the team, I grew immensely from interning with redPepper. The experience of working in an environment that enhanced my professional values and allowed me to grow as an individual is one I won’t soon forget!