When I first began sourcing for an internship, I wasn’t exactly sure of what I wanted, nor was I certain of the skills and knowledge that I needed to help me further my career and pursue my job aspirations. No amount of reading had fully prepared me for what it’s like to work in a startup. I was only certain of one thing – that I would be able to equip myself with the essential skills, knowledge and experience to improve my career prospects by taking on the position as a Marketing Intern in a startup.
Fast forward 3 months, and I am happy to say that my short stint with 4xLabs has enabled me to obtain relevant insights on how 4xLabs has transformed the financial and money changer industry. I’ve gained firsthand experience on the job in the fintech industry, social media, and the various disciplines of marketing. I was also given the opportunity to work closely with the CMO on various projects and initiatives, from interacting and communicating with the media to building content that would generate more publicity and coverage for our products.
To wrap up my journey, here are some of the many things I learnt and enjoyed working on an intern in 4xLabs.
A Flexible and Adhocratic Environment
Here at 4xLabs, we have a vibrant team comprised of a mix of different cultures. I was able to interact with people from vastly different backgrounds in this social arena, as we work and communicate in small flexible teams. For me, the biggest perks of working in a startup are the lack of rigidity and bureaucratic restrictions synonymous with large organisations, as well as working in an environment unfettered with unnecessary paperwork and regulations. The adhocracy and autonomy granted meant that I was given a pivotal role in the marketing team while contributing to the company’s mission; I never felt unneeded, or had the sense that I was simply functioning as a cog in a machine. It also helped that I had a patient and receptive mentor who made my work easier.
Knowledge that Will Last a Lifetime
It seems commonsensical to most people that ideally an internship should go beyond learning about the nuances and intricacies of a coffee machine or printer, but for many organisations, it is not uncommon for this to be overlooked. I was fortunate enough to be able to enroll in an internship programme that provided me with knowledge and skills that would last beyond this summer. Rather than being tossed into the deep end of the pool, I received proper guidance from my mentor, from key tips on drafting copies, to thorough feedback for my tasks, to managing social media channels, and finally becoming well-acquainted with online tools. I learnt the ins and outs of various marketing strategies, such as optimisation of web pages, alongside with getting a glimpse of online analytics. There is a lot more knowledge that I have gained, and these examples are just a few that I am listing. I am glad to say that the skills that I had picked up will open up many doors for me in the future. That’s not to say that all the given work will always be interesting though. Being an intern means that you are expected to perform normal routine tasks and assist with seemingly menial tasks that no one else wants to do.
Exploring the Depths of Creativity
From generating articles to contributing web copy, I was able to gain rich and deep insights into money changers and the financial industry sector, such as the growing challenges faced, notably the increasingly stringent regulations and compliance, and discover money-saving tips for travellers, who form a part of our target audience. One of the growing pains of being a copywriter was that it challenged me to harness my (stifled) creativity and consider various perspectives when drafting a copy, and sad to say, most of these copies did not make the cut as they did not fulfill such requirements. This meant that I had to perform tons of research and due diligence just so I could craft a decent copy. However, this series of trials-and-errors molded me from an individual who was once uncertain of his writing skills, to someone who is confident in creating a decent copy.
What It Means to Be a Marketer Today
I learnt that to be a successful digital and content marketer, we need to have a suite of skills. Gone are the days where you can simply rely on one skill and just specialise in few disciplines such as those linked to traditional print. For marketers to thrive, we are expected to have a range of skills, from decent copywriting, designing, social media management, and even analyzing data, that can be applied across a range of marketing disciplines, from SEO to UX. Many online tools are now able to interactively measure our performances, so that we can adopt agile configurations in our marketing strategies when faced with the test of utilising our resourcefulness and wits. Being a full-stack marketer is no easy task indeed.
A Challenging but a Rewarding Journey
An internship is a prelude to the corporate working environment and my experience in 4xLabs was no doubt one of the most exciting and meaningful journeys I have had. The work, meaningful as it was, was simply a small part of this internship experience, as I greatly valued the skills, experience and knowledge that I believe will go a long way into charting my future career aspirations.
Through my journey, I learnt about my strengths and weaknesses and how I can use them to develop myself into a working professional. Joining a startup can be a risky decision and it is in no way as glamorous as working in a renowned organisation. It also comes with many challenges and risks that are different from joining a large organisation, however, an internship programme with a startup greatly favours individuals who possess gumption, fortitude and the willingness to learn and grow. It is not for everyone, but those who seek challenges and are looking for a fast-paced working environment, may consider joining one.
To prospective interns, my advice is this: choose and select your internships carefully, and be sure that your mentor(s) will coach you through your transition from a student to a working professional.
I strongly believe that any individual who is brave enough to venture through a series of challenges, and willing to head into a fast-paced environment, will find joining start-ups like 4xLabs a rewarding and fruitful one.
~ Bryan Lee, Marketing Intern
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