A notification popped up in my calendar the other day, reminding me that my one-year anniversary at Summit was fast approaching. This got me reminiscing back to my first nervous weeks as a Client Executive: trying (and failing) to remember everyone’s names, taking on board hours of training and settling into a routine of waking up early instead of whenever I wanted! Completing a year in industry is compulsory for my Marketing course at Hull University. During my time at Summit, I have had to learn to balance my academic work with a full time job on top of finding time to maintain my social life! At first, I struggled to find time to complete my assignments, especially when I was so tired from the day at work. As time has gone on, I have settled into a routine that suits me and have been able to maintain a good work-life balance.
There is a point to my ramblings. During my year at Summit I have undoubtedly acquired many useful skills but not without encountering a few mistakes along the way…
1. Underestimating the power of Excel
When starting at Summit, Excel training is a must. Having completed countless Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint workshops at university I quickly jumped to the conclusion that that this would be a breeze! This is where I was wrong. Despite feeling quite overwhelmed by my first session of Excel training at Summit I soon found that there were much easier (and quicker) ways to work with data.
I learnt how to use formulas effectively, how to arrange my data in a PivotTable and some elaborate, yet speedy formatting skills. Although I may encounter the odd error in Excel now and am always learning new tricks and shortcuts, it plays a significant part in aiding me with my everyday tasks and is a very useful tool for a digital marketer.
2. Ineffective communication, internally and externally
It’s pretty clear that without communication, you’re going to struggle in many industries, not only in the world of digital marketing. As this environment is increasingly fast paced, it’s important to know how to communicate effectively with different types of people from internal colleagues to external clients and partners.
From a client-facing perspective, I’ve learnt that the best way to communicate here is to be as concise as possible (which is often quite difficult when you work in the detail of pay per click advertising) whilst also ensuring that you include all relevant information. Through experience, I have also discovered which type of communication (email, phone, face to face) is the most appropriate for a given situation, which helps to maintain a good relationship with the client.
Internally, it is just as imperative to communicate in a short and sweet manner whilst bearing in mind that it is easy for something to be disregarded or even misread. I would recommend getting yourself acquainted with the types and styles of communication your closest colleagues use.
3. Not admitting that you’ve made a mistake
Every now and then, life teaches you an important lesson and owning up to your mistakes has to be up there in the top ten. Although I’ve always considered myself an honest person (one of the five values that underpins a Summit Changemaker), when I made a mistake at work I was anxious about revealing it was my responsibility. Should I admit that it was me or should I sweep it under the carpet and hope that nobody finds out? After some deliberation, I came to the conclusion that it’s human nature to make errors and the best thing to do in any situation when you’re in the wrong is to accept responsibility. I’d also advise offering a solution to fix any problems you may have caused and then making sure that you learn and move on from the mistake. Admitting to my mistake actually made me feel much better.
4. Being afraid to ask for help (or asking for help too much!)
One of the things I was told within weeks of starting at Summit was that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when I needed it. Being new to the office environment I was quite shy in my first month or so and remember trying to pluck up the courage to ask a question. In hindsight, I now realise that people expect you to ask for help, especially when you’re new, and that asking for help doesn’t necessarily mean you’re inexperienced; often it shows that you’re inquisitive and eager to learn new things.
As I began to feel more comfortable, I then slipped into the habit of asking for help too much, even though I knew deep down that I was more than capable of answering my own questions. Asking for help too much can hinder your performance as it gives off the impression that you lack confidence and are needy. Not to mention it distracts others from their work which can be annoying! The best approach involves having confidence in your own ideas, looking for solutions to your own problems, and then asking for opinions or guidance from colleagues if you want a little extra clarity.
5. Getting frustrated in the workplace
Having worked for four years in the busy hospitality industry, I thought I knew exactly how to stay calm and patient in the workplace. I’d encountered countless rude customers, an even ruder chef and the occasional lazy co-worker, all of which would be more than enough to prepare me for an office job, right? Wrong. This was completely different experience which certainly didn’t help when I became frustrated that my reports came in too late or that a test on one of my accounts hadn’t gone to plan.
I’ve found that the key to being patient is to first take a step back to assess the situation. Acting hastily can often exacerbate the situation, plus the more time you have, the more you can think carefully about what caused your frustration. I’ve also learnt to observe the things which trigger my irritation, such as my computer crashing or long, laborious tasks. Recognising that these things can help me to prevent frustration. Result!
To sum it up, my first year at Summit has been a transformative experience. Although at first I did question myself in the role, I’m glad I pushed myself to continue. As a student in a digital marketing environment I have acquired some valuable and transferable skills for the future. To top the year off, I have received various pieces of feedback from colleagues and clients about my progression and performance and these have given me a real boost of confidence in my abilities.