With only a vague email and several fruitless Internet search results, I had no idea what was in store for me at SmartTrans. Subsequently, I had no goals in mind save: don’t get deported and don’t embarrass yourself. So far only one of those goals has remained intact. But as Jason loves to tell us, “Everything changes in China,” and so it is with my expectations.
This internship has alighted a passion for social media I didn’t know I had. No, seriously. Each day, I’ve been handed opportunities to explore the world of social media and digital marketing and it’s not as boring as it sounds. Learning the ins and outs of China’s social media sphere is continually surprising and extends from Weibo and WeChat to Taobao’s digital shopping mall. Furthermore, each company we take on has different needs and target audiences; there’s never a dull moment. We have projects ranging from a single real-estate agent looking to bring Chinese buyers to Australian soil to massive app development projects with four other companies located in Shanghai, San Francisco, and even Mumbai. Gaining knowledge about the process of social media consulting is officially on my goals list right up there next to Don’t Embarrass Yourself.
My hope is to gain useful knowledge in project management as well. Last Thursday I was emailed an extensive excel spreadsheet with countless rows of objectives and deadlines. My job is to interview each coworker, figure out what they’re working on, when they’ll be finished, and to remind them when each milestone due date is approaching. Doesn’t sound too hard on paper, but the fear a 22 year old intern feels at facing her veteran coworkers and interrogating them on their progress is not a small hill to climb.
Most importantly, I want to continue to learn how to view my work through the eyes of our clients. I am lucky enough to work at a lean company where my supervisor has taken a personal interest in my development and coworkers have the time to guide me along the path I’m walking blind. My boss sat down with me to review my 48-slide PowerPoint I’d spent seven hours editing, last week. Rather than the stern scolding I was expecting, I got thoughtful criticism on the flow of the presentation with coaxing questions to help me understand the end goal. I’m by no means ragging on my marketing professors, but being told what customers want in a textbook is entirely different than putting yourself in their shoes and envisioning the reaction they’ll have to each step in the process.
The hands on experience I’ve gained in a short three weeks is indispensable; I can’t wait to see what the next six weeks bring. Who knows, maybe I’ll work on Don’t Be Afraid to Embarrass Yourself while I’m at it.