From Student to Digital Diva: A Successful Summer Internship

Internship PhotoThe day I started my college career, a professor told the group of 300 students in my introductory class that we needed to get an internship. He made it very clear that students who took the initiative and found an internship, had a better academic experience than those who did not. They were more marketable and better candidates for post-graduation jobs.

The internship is a planned, calculated and intensive experience that students should, and often are required, to complete. There is no movie script where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson walk into the Google Headquarters prepared to seize the day. The reality is terrifying. The experience begins with a challenge. This challenge is the idea that you must make yourself a valuable asset and worthwhile entity to the company you are now a part of.

I like to think I am the kind of person that can quickly adjust to situations and take actions based on my best judgment. I like to think that these skills will always serve me well in life because at the end of the day, I understand that I am responsible for my decisions and their outcomes. I traditionally like to be the kind of worker who just goes, and never really complains or makes it seem like there is too much to do. One of my favorite expressions is: “be the solution, not the problem.” It repeats and repeats as I challenge myself to do my best work and do it well.

On my first day as a Marketing Intern at Fathom, I had no idea what to expect. My boss had given me a time to arrive and a schedule. When I arrived, I was excited, nervous and a little bit scared. After a tour of the office, time at my desk and a few meetings with the Marketing Team, I knew I could do this.

During my time at Fathom, I learned about the digital marketing industry. I was trained in Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertising and content integration. I learned best practices with websites like Google Analytics and Google Adwords. I had never heard of customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation tools like Salesforce and Marketo before starting at Fathom.

I believe that during my time here, I am becoming more comfortable with the tools in the trade and how to use them for digital marketing success. In addition to learning about the different tools of the trade, I also assisted with company infographic outreach, promotion and tracking. I coordinated the company’s social media and made a content calendar to follow. Finally, the major project of my internship was planning a one-day summit where nonprofits from the Cleveland area would come learn about digital marketing. The 2014 Cleveland Nonprofit Marketing Summit was the highlight of my experience and really impacted me as a budding professional. From the initial idea for the theme of the event to the final implementation, the event worked well and really reinforced the core mission of the company.

For so many years, I imagined my experience as an intern. I diligently planned and prepared myself for an opportunity to arise. It was not what I imagined or planned. Each day has been different. I always thought I’d have to go back to my classroom notes and look at what we learned so I could apply it to my internship. The opposite was true. After years to learning, drilling and mastering the skills of many of my classes, I didn’t need the pages and pages of notes I have kept since the first day.

While I still used my notes and internet searches for reference, it really came down to the core concepts and overarching themes of my academic work. I was not prepared for everything I encountered in my internship, and quite frankly, it’s unrealistic to think that I would have been. But I was prepared for the times when something needed to be done and I had a way to do it. Each time I completed a task, I analyzed my success afterwards to plan for the next time.

Each day, I would work on sharing content for social media. I implemented the content calendar I created, promoted events and shared blog posts. I worked on looking at similar organizations to see how they structured their social media accounts. If there were specific graphics to try to get on different websites online, I would do research and outreach. Additionally, I would work on the Nonprofit Summit. I organized the event from start to end, so I would send emails to attendees, speakers, check registration and follow-up with different event details. It was an exciting and humbling experience to see the work I had done have a real impact that I could see and measure.

Over the course of my internship, I have been given more experiences, trust and support than I could have ever imagined. There is true value in the concept of autonomy and I cannot express enough how much I appreciated this component of my experience. I was part of the team. I was able to contribute and learn from others. I did not feel like just an intern, I felt like I belonged and that the work I did mattered. I never realized how much I would like the culture of the office. It was a fun, relaxing and exciting environment. Fathom truly values trust, hard work and dedication from all their employees. It is a kind of place where you are inspired to be better and work harder, because you see everyone else doing the same. When I think about what I have accomplished this summer as an intern and what I have gained as a person, I wouldn’t have traded any moment of my experience.

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