Oscar Smith is a Politics, Philosophy and Economics student at the University of Warwick. Here he shares his experience as an intern with Titanium Tutors.
It’s fair to say that there is a bit of a panic scene amongst students when it comes to the subject of internships and work experience. If you’ve spent time with university undergraduates, I’m sure you’ll be aware of the mania that comes with trying to secure a revered ‘spring week’ or the bitter disappointment of seeing seemingly hundreds of speculative CVs and cover letters sent to the abyss of a company email inbox. It is against this backdrop of intense pressure and increasingly rigorous application processes that many students decide the whole thing is just too daunting and quit before they’ve even had a go!
This is where the Warwick Summer Internship programme (WSI) comes in. After a telephone and a face-to-face interview, I was lucky enough to be invited to work with Joe Hytner and his team at Titanium Tutors to take on the role of marketing intern; I was certainly excited and couldn’t wait to see where I ended up at the end of my 6 weeks working in their office in Camden Town, London.
What did I work on?
I knew there would be the opportunity to manage TT’s social media accounts and to write articles for their rolling blog, and soon found out that these elements could be brought together when Joe introduced me to the world of ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. Tasked with identifying how we could try and raise the company’s website presence in popular search engines, I had a lot to learn (I had never heard of SEO before stepping into the office!) and I knew I had my work cut out for me. With my three ‘pillars’ of social media, blogging and website presence established, I started to settle into a groove while developing my skills across all three areas, thanks to expert guidance from marketing professionals which Joe arranged for me to have introductory sessions with. There was certainly a learning curve involved, but the support I received along the way was fantastic and kept me inspired and motivated throughout my 6 weeks.
How did it compare to university life?
For starters, working 9-5 (plus my commute from my home in London zone 5 to the office in zone 2) is much harder than rolling out of bed on campus accommodation to your 10am lecture. You certainly learn to use your evenings and weekends for relaxing, as well as getting a proper 8 hours of sleep in! I also found myself needing to structure my days a bit more than normal, typically spending my morning working on website presence, updating the socials around lunch time (timed so I could hit peak user traffic!), before writing up or editing any blog posts in the afternoon.
I also found that I needed to stay pretty flexible and open to new tasks which emerged. One Friday, we received a call from an advertising agency looking to move on a quarter page ad space – the first part of my Friday was spent negotiating and the second half was spent re-learning how to use Photoshop and writing up ad copy for the final advertisement! I think it was at times like these when I was quite thankful that I study PPE, where switching between very different tasks during the day (think regression analysis in an econometrics lecture one moment and then epistemology in a philosophy seminar straight after) is the norm.
What did I learn?
Looking back at the 6 weeks, I certainly felt like I had gone through a real learning experience and the way I approached the three pillars evolved quite dramatically. I think my proudest moment was writing a blog on educational board games which got noticed and ‘retweeted’ by major board game publisher Calliope Games in the US thanks to a Twitter post I made – this led to me writing a guest article on Calliope’s website, which was a great shout-out for TT. Moments like this really made all the hard work pay off in a satisfying way. On the skills side, I became far more literate with professional tools such as Moz Pro and Ahrefs, built my confidence by conducting outreach and running social media, as well as honing a more relaxed and less academic style of writing in my blogs. In summary, it was a fantastic experience, and a great introduction to the world of modern marketing.
My advice for Warwick undergraduates…
- Give one of the CV or application workshops a go – check out the next available session on My Advantage portal
- Apply to a few vacancies when the WSI scheme opens in 2020 – I found that doing 3 applications (but putting a lot of time into them) really helped me in the interview stages.
- Most importantly, seek out opportunities which are going to inspire you and stretch you – you need something to motivate you to get out of bed!