After university, like most students I left with a nocturnal body clock, a very handy FIFA profile and still no solid direction for a career. After just 2 weeks working with The Sandpit I’m up at 6 like clockwork, looking forward to getting into the office every day and seriously considering a number of career paths that are opening up…
I can honestly say that when I got a phone call at the start of May in my third year, the last thing I thought it would be was 2 weeks of work, and proper work at that. When I realised I’d be doing a couple of weeks as an intern at a technology startup in London the first thing I did was head straight to Google and type in ‘how to make the perfect cup of tea’. I wanted to make an impression right from the off and when I arrived, being the only person in the entire office wearing a tie probably did just that. I’ll assume I’m a fairly normal student when I say I’ve just graduated and have never had a full-time office job, and on the train up to London on Monday morning (to ensure I got up in time I went to bed early on Sunday afternoon) I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I think office, I think suits, ties, water coolers and not much fun. I went in to this process with an open mind but deep down I was resigned to the fact that my childhood was definitely coming to an end.
As soon as I stepped in to the vibrant and (very) newly painted office all of these thoughts about the fun stopping and the generic boredom of working or ‘real’ life evaporated. I was met enthusiastically by every member of the team who were all more than happy to help; be it by showing me how things work, sharing nuggets of practical advice or reeling off plenty of ‘Brentisms’, an art which has clearly been perfected over a number of years of office tomfoolery. I guess office life is fairly similar to being at uni, only with a few more meetings and specific tasks and targets to get done each day/week. The banter is still all there, if not even funnier and the prospect of earning and subsequently not living off beans on toast and Lambrini for another year has given me a real desire to get stuck in.
Every last detail has been a new experience over the past fortnight; the waking up on time, the commute, the office environment… All of which I thought might be a bit daunting, or even too hard, but after learning the ropes – training sessions in using SoDash, PowerMeeter, SalesForce and learning about what The Sandpit does and what its aims are - it just felt natural. I’ve been doing all sorts of tasks over the past couple of weeks and one of the brilliant things about The Sandpit is that it is a small team and so every input I made was a valuable one. I definitely valued this more than perhaps being given menial tasks that people cannot be bothered to do themselves, as might be the case in a larger corporate business.
Some of the tasks I’ve undertaken include; learning how to use SoDash, a social media monitoring tool with its own ‘brain’ (or Artificial Intelligence programmed to learn from your input). SoDash is perfect for keeping up to date with exactly what’s being said about your own brand as well as your competitors’ brands. One particular continuous process is ‘tagging’; applying specific parameters to individual tweets to categorise them more easily. This has proved to be more entertaining than it sounds, especially if you take charge of the right account: I was working on a bank monitoring account which came under fairly relentless attack from jokers with questions including, “If a dog robbed a bank would it still be illegal?” and, “Do you ever steal those little coin bags to use as sandwich bags for guinea pigs?”.
I also learnt the basics of PowerMeeter, a brand new video interviewing website with both live and recorded feeds – perfect for those who find face-to-face interviews daunting, or live too far to come in for an interview, or simply those who want to conceal that fact they aren’t wearing any trousers! It has been exciting to see the final development stages of this product and engage in research tasks to help develop it further, such as compiling a detailed competitor matrix and stats tables.
I was asked to head a short project reviewing the SoDash promotional website with a specific focus on improving accessibility and user-friendliness. This included preparing two 2000+ word reports using a case study of a competitor’s website which I considered best in class. My goal was to document how www.sodash.com can be improved to beat its rival’s design and content. The best thing about delivering these tasks is that it was clear I wasn’t just been given time filling jobs to keep me busy and out of the way. I actually had to present my research project on SoDash to the senior members of the team and it is pleasing to know that my work will be referenced and referred to regularly to help make a difference to the company, even after my internship has ended.
I have benefitted from pretty much everything I’ve done during the past fortnight; being part of a team, meeting new people, and getting out of my comfort zone. The welcoming nature of every warm and friendly team member at The Sandpit has meant that I’ve felt very comfortable and settled in straight away. After only being here 2 weeks I feel I’ve achieved a great deal and it’s as if I’ve been here for so much longer. That’s testament to the exciting projects going on here as well as the outrageous office banter, with pundreds of huns (some of which go straight over people’s heads – if you’re reading this then it’s probably going to be you) being batted back and forth all day long. The most admirable thing about this group is that despite the mood always being light hearted and jovial, there is a very high work ethic and nobody here is a passenger. Everyone is always giving their best effort all day which is great to see and to learn from.
After this process I will be leaving with a clear idea that the world of sales and marketing is a lucrative one which fits my skill sets well, and a real hunger to start working and earning my own living. Just a few weeks ago I didn’t even want to think about life after university, but even only after 2 weeks of full-time work I cannot wait to begin the next chapter. Oh and there’s quite a few after work drinks socials which is always a great way of getting involved!
In many ways I still feel (and look) about 12 and I never thought I could get a job or even sit still for more than about 15 minutes but in becoming part of an office team all with a clear vision and an impressive work ethic I feel that I’ve matured hugely. I would thoroughly recommend to any student fresh out of university to consider interning, even if it’s only for a week or two, because I have benefitted greatly from the whole experience and the skills I’ve picked up can definitely be put on the CV to give me an advantage over so many finishing students in the same position!
Written by John Spring