So, who are you and what do you do?

 

Okay, so we’re jumping in at the deep end. I’m Mel – an Edinburgh based digital marketing executive. Think Peggy Olsen from Mad Men but with a laptop and smartphone. I joined Whitespace as a digital marketing intern in March 2020, with only two days in the office before the lockdown kicked off, so my 6-month work experience was virtually… well virtual. Alongside my studies and a decent amount of in-house work experience, I got to learn the agency ropes. Then when I came back to drop off my equipment they said I could stay.  So, I’ve been an employee for 11 months now.

 

How did you get an internship at Whitespace? 

 

The golden question. So, many moons ago I applied for The Oven internship program, if you’ve not heard of it then click here. Did I get it? Well I had an interview but unfortunately, I didn’t get it. Although I’m a very strong believer that any interview experience is very worthwhile. Each time you do one, it gets less scary, I promise.

After that setback I started to engage a lot more, I started attending their Whitespace Women career confidence and networking events. I also followed their social channels so I was updated with their latest work as well as their latest job and work experience openings. I’m not saying I became a fangirl but let’s be honest, I became a fangirl.

The turning point was when I created a LinkedIn account and I started the personal branding hustle. I updated my profile with the work experience I had been doing and some free online courses I did with Google Digital Garage. I started connecting with people who did the sort of jobs that I wanted to do and I engaged with their content, building my network. One of the digital marketers saw my profile and invited me in for a chat and the rest is history. 

My key takeaway – it was a case of the right place and the right time but you never know when that might happen so if you’re being proactive then it might just happen to you. Our team is always looking for fresh and enthusiastic talent. This year alone we have taken on a great number of virtual placements because we know it’s been tough to find your feet – and we want to help.

 

How did you find your virtual placement?

 

It’s a weird one actually... Despite not being in the office and getting to enjoy the social side of a creative agency, I met a lot of great people. I was involved with some client work, which meant I got to collaborate with some very talented Whitespacers in different departments from Planning and Creative to Account Management. It really cemented the importance of being around people who inspire you, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not in awe of the work that Whitespacers do.

It was tricky to put names to faces and also grasp the process that projects take from planning to execution and evaluation but I got there in the end. I found mind mapping and writing notes through the process invaluable – if someone said a word or a phrase that I didn’t know, you’d better believe I was googling it.

I guess overall, having to work and learn remotely meant I had a head start at hybrid working. Good news! Learning online gives you a lot of foundational skills, so you will have one too. I would be very surprised to see any businesses going back to 100% in person working because people enjoy it too much, the time you would usually spend commuting can be invested in something you enjoy like walking the dog or catching up on Love Island. 

Being able to build relationships with your team and your clients online is a hugely valuable skill to have. A lot of our clients are international, so we don’t have to hop on a flight to meet them for a coffee and a chat, woo for the environment and for a positive work/life balance.

 

What is your main advice for someone starting out?

 

Network – connect with everyone you know, (and keep this between us) everyone you want to know. Not everyone will connect with a stranger on LinkedIn but in my experience, people are fairly open to widening their network, just like you. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Be proactive – Why not switch out 2 hours of watching TikToks (let’s be honest, we’re all doing it) and dedicate that time to doing a free online course on the fundamentals of digital marketing, social media or any skills for work. The trick here is to prove that you are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and graft for what you want. They also look lush on your CV. Click here to take a look at the courses.

Market Yourself – because if you can’t market yourself, how can you show your ability to market anything else? That ended up sounding like something Ru Paul would say but you get my drift. 

Keep an eye out for opportunities – So let’s say you are working in a pub… do they have social channels? If not, do they need social channels? I did this exact move to get some experience when I was starting out. It doesn’t need to be anything mind-blowing but you’ll be able to prove your ability to do social post scheduling, community management, copywriting, editing images and understanding your audience. These are the fundamentals of a job in social media.

Hang in there – Trust the process. Your next opportunity is just right around the corner, try your best to ensure you’re ready for it and it’s all yours. Best of luck – you’ve got this!