By Farizah Ahmad
NTU, Mathematical Sciences (Statistics)
As a math undergraduate student, why did I join a marketing agency for a whole semester? My answer to that is curiosity. As the saying goes, “If you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity, your curiosity just might lead you to your passion.”
My days at Design Prodigy have been a memorable and enriching learning experience. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects; from R&D, to a client project, and even a business development project. Having the chance to play a multi-disciplinary role in the company was something truly unique, as I was able to explore and experience different areas of expertise.
What I liked about my work experience
Being an intern at DP did not feel any different from being a permanent staff member. I was assigned actual and meaningful tasks which are crucial and beneficial to the company. Additionally, their receptiveness to my suggestions and ideas instantly made me feel comfortable so much so that I felt that I was part of the team. While it was quite intimidating and pressurising at first, I learnt to cope and manage better with the help of my supervisor who constantly encouraged me to think critically. Like an Olympic trainer, she constantly motivated me to only strive for the best.
Having the liberty to choose what I want to work on was also one of the main reasons why I enjoyed working here. During these 22 weeks, I have learnt many different types of work a marketer can perform, from hiring and managing freelancers, to creating new content weekly, assisting in a partnership project, researching on marketing strategy models to implement, and the list goes on. This in turn provided me with more insights into the different types of roles and responsibilities I can choose from in future.
Most importantly, the work culture is far from individualistic. DP has an open working environment with lots of transparency and employee freedom. Often, we’d be there for each other when someone needed help with work or a listening ear. To me, they were more than just colleagues; I have discovered friends in which I shared my triumphs and troubles with. From the inside jokes we shared to the thoughtful “surprise” birthday celebrations we threw for one another, there were just too many memories made in DP such that it was hard to leave at the end of my professional internship.
Challenges that I met
Given that I’m neither a marketing nor a business student, it took me quite a while, in the beginning, to adjust the way I structure my thoughts, approach a problem and present to a client. However, I was glad to have helpful colleagues and fellow business interns to advise and ease me through this process. After all, I believe that it is essential to step out of our comfort zone in order to truly grow and become stronger.
For the client project, working on an app’s pre-launch marketing campaign was quite a feat without a snippet of the actual product to show. Imagine promoting a product without a product! This challenged me to think of other creative ways to gain sign-ups. Fortunately, with extensive research and the help of my supervisor, I managed to overcome this feat quite successfully.
What I learnt
The first step in effective marketing is to make something worth buying, so as marketers, collaborating closely with designers and/or manufacturers is essential. However, in order to do this well, we have to identify the customers’ underlying needs and desires. With the advent of technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, we have the ability to do this more efficiently, but let’s not forget that these are merely tools to help us achieve our goal – not the solution, but part of the equation.
As Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously pointed out, “nobody wants a quarter-inch drill bit for its own sake; they want it for the quarter-inch hole it makes.” However, nobody wants a hole for its own sake either. It’s merely a means of accomplishing something else – perhaps installing a shelf on your wall to store things which in turn, is just a way to make your home look tidy. And you may ask, why do you want tidiness? Perhaps it makes you feel in control of your environment or maybe you want to give the impression that you’re well-organised.
Essentially, you don’t really want a drill bit. You want safety and respect — two of the most fundamental human needs. The drill bit is just a tool for achieving them. Therefore, likewise in DP, employees are highly encouraged to acquire machine-learning skills, think strategically, and hold multi-disciplinary roles. This prepares their employees for a mutually beneficial partnership in the age of artificial intelligence.
One of the many positive learning points was discovering my passion for creative content creation, something I may not have known if not for this professional internship. Additionally, I developed a better understanding of the true essence of marketing and what its future entails with the advent of technological advancements. One of my biggest takeaways from DP would be the invaluable skills I’ve learnt; from effectively communicating and collaborating with freelancers and clients to managing email drip campaigns on a marketing automation platform.
My advice for future professional internship students
Always give your best shot: Take pride and ownership of the project you’re assigned to. This also involves taking the initiative to clarify, research beforehand, suggest, and double- (or triple-) check your work.
Build relationships with your colleagues: Having a positive and friendly relationship with your colleagues can help to make the most arduous of tasks enjoyable. Be yourself and have a laugh now and then; life is too short to be serious all the time after all.
Learn as much as you can: As Bruce Lee once said, “Empty your cup so that it may be filled.” Given that you are limited by time, learn as much as you can from your colleagues by not only asking about their role but also offering to help them with the tasks they’re handling. This will give you a greater insight into the job and help you decide if it is something you’d like to do in future.