By Rhea Chokshi
Over the summer, I was lucky enough to work as a Digital Marketing Intern at Gradconsult. As I neared the end of my second year at the University of Nottingham studying Chemistry, I thought about how I could use the skills I’d obtained from my degree and bring my experiences into the working world and within a sector I was interested in. This brought me to Gradconsult, a place where I could gain hands-on experience, work within a team of consultants and develop my marketing skills.
The application process
While studying, it can be really useful to maximise what the university offers with its careers service. They can provide you with great advice, opportunities, resources and support to guide you throughout your career journey. For me, the careers service was a stepping stone between my previous experiences and securing an internship.
Two months before I received an offer from Gradconsult, I booked a CV review session with a career adviser.
Not only did I get advice on how I could improve, I was also told about other opportunities such as the Nottingham Internship Scheme. I learnt about the importance of internships and benefits of working for an SME, which led me to searching for summer internship vacancies where I discovered Gradconsult!
But how did I know that I wanted to apply here? As I’ve learnt from the team themselves, I needed to make sure that they were the right fit for me just as much as I was for them. And I quickly found that they were!
By researching Gradconsult and their work through their social media and website, I found almost instantly that the place was overflowing with ideas, personality and experience.
It was clear that every team member held great enthusiasm for their role and gave their clients expertise to the best of their ability, all conveyed further through glowing client testimonials. As well as this, I identified how I could use my own marketing skills to develop branding and how this matched their role requirements.
During my second year, I had the opportunity to work as publicity officer for Nottingham Hindu Society, a society with a large online presence. Coming into this role, I had no experience in graphic designing or creating social media content, but I soon grasped how to use the editing software and in such a way to maintain a strong digital presence. Following this experience, I wanted to utilise these skills and learn more about marketing within the workplace.
However, while these core job-related skills are definitely important to discuss in an application, transferable skills from any other experiences may be just as relevant.
For example, in my interview I was able to draw from lab experience and work I undertook with Capital One to demonstrate how I organised my time – even though these experiences had nothing to do with marketing!
Beyond the scope of the role, employers are likely to look for someone able to demonstrate how past experiences have contributed to their development and who has a genuine interest in their company.
Top tips for the application process:
- Be aware and make use of what’s available to you – had I not been in contact with my university’s careers service, I would never have found an internship!
- Do as much research as you can before applying – ensure that the company’s values and skills they require for the role align with your own whilst being prepared to show throughout the application process why you want to work there
- Any experience can be good experience – even if something you’ve done previously is not directly related to the field you’re applying to, there are other skills you can draw on from that experience that are relevant to the role
Getting ‘stuck in’ at Gradconsult
On the first day, I had a welcome call with Annie and met everyone during a team lunch, where I quickly felt a strong team culture. I found that this was one of the benefits of working in an SME like Gradconsult that I hadn’t experienced anywhere else – with regular weekly meetings and engagement with all members of the team, regardless of their role or experience, the learning opportunities were endless and I was able to gain more exposure to various projects. You could see how checking in with other members of the team, even if just for a few minutes, really made a positive impact on the work and helped with the team’s overall growth.
Right from the start, I was able to get fully involved in digital marketing tasks, helping me to settle into the work and environment.
In the first week alone, I was testing Zoom sessions with Amber, learning how to use CMS platforms like WordPress to run the GC website and blog and getting started on making edits to the team profiles.
Whilst some of this was new to me, there was also plenty of opportunity to reach out to other team members to gain further insight and to share ideas.
By the second week I was editing testimonials and updating work pages, alongside learning how to use the CMS effectively. As well as this, I further developed my social media skills by creating new content and templates for RISE in order to improve outreach. Through understanding these areas, I was able to meet one of my internship goals where I could create sustainability by forming ‘How to’ guides so that some of the work that I’ve carried out can continue to be implemented. Although working online had its challenges, I was able to connect with the growing GC team via Teams and Google Meet, which also allowed me to learn more about the platforms and how I could best use them to communicate during my internship. The availability of a wide range of online tools supported the growth of my digital marketing ability.
But aside from the digital marketing actions, I learnt so much more during my time at Gradconsult. I was able to attend and participate during some of the sessions that were running, including those around ‘Growth Mindset and Resilience’, ‘How to Think Like a Recruiter’ and ‘Developing Commercial Awareness’. These sessions made me reflect further on my own career journey and how I approached the application process. Working flexibly also enabled me to manage my time better and work independently, allowing me to arrange time where I could ask for help with my CV and get interview feedback. With all of this and various bits of advice in between, I have gained invaluable knowledge that I will definitely use moving forward.
One of the main highlights of working at Gradconsult was being part of an amazing team, where there’s a shared enthusiasm for the work and a very supportive environment.
With a key emphasis on making personal connections and forming a motivating culture, it comes as no surprise that I felt really comfortable in my role from very early on. After 6 incredible weeks at Gradconsult, I look forward to taking on board everything I have learnt and seeing what #teamGC do next!
Top tips to maximise your internship:
- Be as proactive as possible – reach out to team members outside of your schedule, organise meetings, ask if you’re unsure about something, take initiative to learn about the work and ask for feedback on your application/tasks
- Try and set some of your own internship goals – as well as meeting the targets set out for you, create some of your own and really think about what you want to get out of the experience
- Have confidence in your ideas and your ability – while you are learning and adjusting to the work, don’t be afraid to make suggestions and apply what you’ve learnt from previous experiences