Let’s backtrack just a little bit and post about the beginning of my career, like most people it begins with an internship. I thought it would be a good idea to share my experiences of what I went through and how it all turned out for me. TL;DR I got an internship, it gave me some credentials and pointed me in the direction I wanted to pursue.
CCO Partners Internship
An internship with a marketing firm in downtown Chicago, it was my first time needing a button up shirt to go to work and my first time being exposed to the professional world, albeit it was a small firm (4 people). Hm. Everything was so new to me. Naturally I had my normal personality with the others in the office but was relatively quiet, didn’t ever quite fit in. I guess internships are like that – they look good on paper but you don’t really get responsibilities, or the skills for the future. You get the boring, data entry work. I did get some opportunities to get creative and actually use my brain, but that was very limited.
This was a good company though, I may have not been getting the skills and responsibilities I wanted (typical of an internship) but I was at least paid, wasn’t micro-managed, was talked to like an equal, and finally got my feet wet with in the business world. I was introduced to an environment I wasn’t used to and it stuck with me. Dress nice, be active, network, always being creative, and think different (RIP Steve Jobs).
The first project I worked on here was a data entry type dealio(I know, I know – ugh). I would have to fill out large (I mean thousands large) excel sheets of data – kind of like maintaining a directory… by hand. Not fun. Day by day I would fill out hundreds of rows and inputting data. Very boring stuff. I thought to myself there has got to be a way to copy paste, or automate, or something to keep me sane. So I suppose some may call it ‘slacking’ but at the time this project was just absolutely draining my psyche. I consider it taking initiative, but after about a week of inputting maybe around 6,000 cells of data I would take a couple hours of my workday to research/learn a workaround. I searched through many how-to websites, went to different search engines with a slim hope of finding some sort of miracle. (sidenote: Before I started on this, I already asked them if there was an automated solution and they mentioned that their IT guy said there was no workaround – it would have to be manual.) Another week goes by and I finally did what I never thought I’d do. I brought my work home with me.
Not in the emotional sense, but I did start looking up ways to do this outside of work. I was young, I wanted to impress. I believe I started experimenting with the image recognition and adobe reader pro. The file I was looking at was locked so nothing could be edited, saved, copied or whatnot. I ended up focusing on a single page, taking the image and copying it to Adobe reader pro. I forgot what tools I used and the process, but what I ended up with was using the reader to find different columns and fields and having the recognition recognize the characters. I ended up copying this page to an excel sheet and voila – a copy of the data with some weird characters that I easily switched out (ctrl-f FTW). Multiply that process by thousands and you get over an entire months work done in under a half hour. Whew, I literally have never been so happy with myself. Accomplishment through perseverance is one great feeling.
After that project I got a little bit less awful things to do. Of course I mostly had those – but I also got into things like Brand Standard. Never heard it before in my life. For those that don’t know it’s basically (warning: made up word) templatizing your company to be branded everywhere (exampled, logo and style of proposals budgets, releases, everything was the same). I also had not-for-profit work to do with CeCe Cares which is an epilepsy foundation. It has a great story that you should check out sometime. I was responsible for email marketing (kind of) and used constantcontact, using publisher to develop the emails.
It was a bit of time ago so I don’t remember most of the details, but this internship definitely sent me in the direction I’m pursuing/expanding on today, SEO. The first time I heard about it was on the services page of the company’s website. Didn’t catch my eye too much, but at the time my brother worked for bradsdeals.com and explained to me what it was. Towards the end of the internship I began researching and reading more and more about SEO, and learning about it’s practices and different leaders throughout the world. However I was never had a centralized place I could learn. This would be my next goal – finding someone to direct me in the right place.
Personal note: No idea if they will ever see or read this, but thanks to CCO Partners Scott Christiansen and Peter Cunningham. Nikki Cary, for yelling at me when I was being dumb (I needed that) as well as the two girls who definitely helped me along the way: Michelle McRae (who just had a baby congrats!) and Kristen Allen (the crazy stories were always entertaining) as well as the wikipedia game, don’t need to explain that here :).