Behind the Walls of OnWired from an Interns Viewpoint
Confessions of a Serial Intern Part 1
This is the first of a four part series. Catch up with the second one here, third here, and fourth here.
August 1, 2008: I walked into work with a smile on my first day. OnWired is written in Sharpie on a piece of painter’s tape on the door. It is clear that this growing start-up company is still adjusting to their new office. Nonetheless, it is a great office, clearly decorated by designers, and I am happy to join the team. Jon, the creative director who interviewed me with Tony, gave me a tour of the office and introduced me to the few people who were already there at 9 am. Being a start-up company, the atmosphere here is pretty relaxed and people tend to stroll in whenever they can. My first impression was great. I love the little touches that make the office seem inviting. How many other students have offices with bright red chairs, mini Coke refrigerators, bottomless candy dishes, California imported root beer in the office snack room, and a TV, used exclusively for playing Wii, in an amazing lobby with a couch? Not only is the office cool, but so are the people. It was definitely intimidating at first; the office is dominated by males, all of whom are young. However, it did not take me long to adjust. It helped to know that practically the entire office, which consists of about 8 people, was hired within the last 6 months;Sean, a Web “beautician,” was only on his 3rd day.
Before Tony, the owner, came in, Julie gave me my first assignment. (Julie is the Account Manager.) From the interview, Jon knew I was interested in marketing and Julie happened to be working on a social media article. The article was going to educate their clients on how to get their names “out there” on the Web; it was going to divulge the basics of all forms of social media and how to use them. My job was to look up the specifics of the media types and the differences associated with similar ones so that Julie could have enough information to write an article about them. I got right on it.
I started with social networks—this meant Facebook, MySpace, etc.—which I have to admit I knew little about because I am not part of any social network. I know that is hard to believe, but I am not the typical teenage girl. I think Julie was shocked to know this too. In order to do the assignment, I had to change my outlook; I had to think like I was a company looking to promote myself and ask, “What would I want to know about all the different social networks?” I learned a lot about social networks and discovered ones I had never heard of, like Flickr, LinkedIn, Virb, PureVolume, and Ning. The next topic was video. I did not realize how much a video could make your company stand out, but now I know that posting an informative video about something related to your industry can build a positive reputation. Besides YouTube and Google Video, I learned about Vimeo, Viddler, and MetaCafe. Wikis are also another way to get the word out; Wikipedia.org is a popular wiki in which companies can write their own pages or correct others. I researched blogs, of course, and microblogs as well. I realized the importance of blogs to promote websites. At the same time, I learned about major sites including Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, Plurk, and Tumblr. Social bookmarks were on the list as well. Before this, I did not even know what a social bookmark was. Now I could pick which site I would use if I were to promote my own company. After I finished researching—it took me a few days—I compiled my facts and findings into a report and shot Julie an email. Now she will have to use my information and create an amazing article to give to clients. It is exciting to know that I took part in something that will be read by many people.
My next project involved a huge stack of dance magazines, a few Mountain Dews, and more research. The task: to become one with StarQuest dance. OnWired is going to start handling their marketing and Julie asked me to find out where they were and what people were saying about them. I flipped through some magazines to get an idea of their competitors and where I could start searching on the Web. With this, I discovered their lack of print ads. I began searching them on Google to see how easily they were found. I went through social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace, to check out their online presence. Along with this assignment, I developed a love for Google’s blog search; it really helped me find comments from random people. What I found was pretty pitiful, which is exactly why OnWired is helping them. Julie already knew their dire need of help, but the report I gave her informed her of where StarQuest’s competitors were on the Web, or where StarQuest needed to be. I contacted several magazine firms to request subscriptions for OnWired and then purged my mind of everything StarQuest.
By now it is near the end of the week and I am warming up to the office. I have played a little Wii, tried Tony’s favorite root beer, and laughed a lot. It turns out Julie is really funny—but I seem to be the only one laughing hysterically at what she says—and the guys are laid back, enjoying a round of ring toss every now and then. Being in the main lobby area, I get to hear everyone’s conversations, which is extremely informative, though nosy. I have heard discussions regarding the progress of each of their clients and potential leads. I participated in a conference call with Julie and Sean; it was a 20 minute call in which Julie discussed the process to a new potential client. I have also taken time to peak at what Sean does. He is a Web designer, the area that I am most interested in, and I enjoy seeing the transformation of a website from ugly to fabulous. Being around such great and talented people is inspiring, and I think I have learned a lot of business communication skills through this experience.
Any free time I have had this week I have spent reading Web design books recommended by Tony. The first book he slipped on my desk was Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug, a book about the common sense approach to Web usability. Every now and then he would sneak another book or magazine on my desk. My current bookshelf consists of Web ReDesign | Workflow that Works by Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler, Web Form Design by Luke Wroldewski, Return on Design: Smarter Web Design that Works by Ani Phyo, Design by Tom Peters, and Computer Arts magazines, all of which are interesting and informative. Overall, the first week went well.
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