10 weeks of internship flew by in an instant. The meal times we had, the jokes we shared and the 10 weeks that I took for granted soon came to an end.
I vividly recalled how I first self-sourced my internship at iFoundries…
At Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU), as a marketing major student, we focused on marketing fundamentals and strategies. I took on a digital marketing module (which was recently introduced) and that was my first brush with digital marketing. It was an introductory course which exposed me to digital marketing jargons like SEO, SEM and concepts such as the DATA approach and Roger & Pepper’s 5 ‘I’s. I was really interested about inbound marketing; it was the new buzz in the digital marketing landscape, and I believe it will be playing an increasingly important role in the digital sphere. I felt that digital marketing was one of the many ways to connect with customers around the world and sought to learn more about it. Unfortunately there were no further digital marketing courses that NTU could offer. Inbound marketing was considered too specialized. Undeterred, I look into digital marketing agencies (particularly Hubspot) for any potential internship to further broaden my horizon and to decide if I wanted digital marketing to be a part of my life.
A simple Google search offered me iFoundries and a few of their competitors. What eventually led me to select iFoundries was their ‘about us’ page. Furthermore, I was enthralled that facebook captured my data and iFoundries Ads started appearing in my newsfeed.
I was impressed with the lengths at which iFoundries went to display their organisation culture and their emphasis on its employees. It was portrayed as a lively company full of energy and zeal. Allured, I applied and went for the interview. Having nothing to offer, albeit having passed the inbound marketing certification course, I wasn’t hopeful. Truthfully, the interview to me was more of an opportunity to speak to Vary, the managing director and learn of his views towards the marketing industry, rather than an opportunity for an internship position. I thought: “Armed with a better understanding of the digital marketing landscape from the eyes of a digital marketing expert, I would be more well-equipped for my next interview”. I figured it was hopeless when I was informed that there were other NTU students who applied for the company before me. I thought I knew. To my surprise, I was offered the internship position on the spot. This marks the beginning chapter of my journey at iFoundries. P.S. It was only later that I found out that Vary was not essentially looking for a person with technical skills, but for traits such as the willingness and eagerness to learn.
Job Scope Of A Digital Marketing Intern At iFoundries
Here at iFoundries, I was working as an intern in the digital marketing department. The internal marketing work of this department focuses on long term (LT) nurturing of prospects and customers. To achieve this, our comapny has partnered with HubSpot to implement inbound marketing strategy. Our department first identifies the buyer persona and create the processes at each stage on how to approach prospects and leads. There are 3 stages namely awareness, consideration and decision stage. The focus is on educating the customers about the industry and its products. As prospects move through the marketing funnel, coming to the narrower decision stage, we then introduce how our services can help them.
What Did I Gained, and What Impact(Contributions) Did I Make?
At iFoundries, apart from understanding and implementing inbound strategy, I was exposed to a variety of tools and concepts that allowed me to fulfil my tasks. I learnt of the best practices of writing blogposts, such optimizing for SEO, creating visually appealing infographics. I was also given many opportunities to create content, checklists and landing page at different touch points of the funnel. I was able to apply the basic color theory taught by my colleagues into my work with the wonders of photoshop.
What Is The Most Memorable Challenge During My Time At iFoundries?
A particularly memorable event is when I get to tinker with Google AdWords. I mean – it’s AdWords! Sorry, too excited. Our client in the travel industry engage us and we were allocated an advertising budget for 4 months. I was assigned a small portion of the budget and expected to generate traffic and conversions from a particular landing page. Within a month, I was able to generate 315 clicks and 15 conversions. Right now, on my last week of internship, it is 780 clicks and 30 conversions – pretty decent considering that holidays are over. Initially, I had to research keywords using the Google Keywords Planner. It was nerve-wreaking at first, as this is the client’s money that we are dealing with. I started meticulously researching which keywords generated the most searches. The best keywords generally command higher prices which are out of my budget. I have to work with lower maximum cost per click and tinker around AdWords and figure out what works best. Our marketing strategist guided me on this process and vetted my keywords. Within 3 hours, Google AdWords approved my ad and I’m off with my first task on generating clicks and eventually leads and conversion for our client. I was excited. Within 2-3 days, Google started serving my Ads and I could see clicks. A week later, I began to worry as clicks were not converting into leads and conversions. This meant that I was paying Google for the clicks but not helping our client get any conversions. Google Ads are ranked based on Bids, Expected Click-thru rate, Ad Relevance & Landing Page. As our client’s SEO and website were done by a 3rd party agency, we are unable to alter and optimize the landing page of the clients. Therefore, we had to work within the parameters of improving Ad Relevance and Expected Click-Thru Rate. Our marketing strategist and I discussed several strategies i.e. A/B testing, changing keywords. After experimenting and changing our strategy, we were able to generate 15 conversions within a month. From this episode, I learnt that there is no ‘one-size-fit-all’ strategy and experimentation is the best way to customize and optimize your ads. Understanding the concepts and theories is simple but executing and implementing them is where the real learning begins. There are no shortcuts to this and no marketers can expect instantaneous results. The best strategies worked by experimentation and customization to specific requirements of the client. This is something that can only be gained via hands-on experiment and cannot be learned from school.
What Differentiates iFoundries From Other Digital Marketing Agencies?
1. Flexibility At Work
Although I was told this during interview, I was still surprised that work starts at 10am and ends at 6.30pm. This is interesting to me as most organisations start at 8am and ends at 5.30pm. The company also allows flexible work hours i.e. we can chose to come at 9am and end 5.30pm.
This was particularly attractive for me. As my house was 1 stop away from Temasek Polytechnic, the bus service I take to iFoundries was usually swarmed with students rushing for their 9am class that I can’t board the bus.
However, due to this arrangement, I am able to avoid that. In addition, this flexibility allows me to adjust my body clock better. I usually sleep at 2-4am – life of an NBS student. Tsk Tsk.
Dress code was pretty much laissez faire. The sales team dresses a bit more formal. The focus is on the work and value we create than the appearances we wear.
2. Friendly Environment That Stimulates Learning
In my department, the staff is jovial and friendly. We are a small team of 5, including me. The culture is one of learning, and we are given a lot of leeway in that. For example, I was taught only the bare basics of AdWords – a Google tool we use for helping our clients to advertise their services. After that, I was encouraged to explore by googling and going on youtube to look at the best practices and apply and try them myself. I was also encouraged to take to google AdWords certification. During my first 2 weeks, I have already completed my HubSpot Content Marketing certification and can apply them for work.
3. Clan & Market Culture (Source: Competing Values Framework)
Competing Values Framework
As a marketing agency, we were result orientated and very focused on metrics. However, I’m proud to say that we were more than just that. The most important factor that made our internship experience at iFoundries invaluable and most memorable is its PEOPLE. Everyone’s friendly and approachable here. Initially, on my first day, before coming to work, I was wary and pretending not to be nervous. I was introduced by Vary to each of my colleagues for the next 10 weeks. During lunch, people make it a point to chat with me and make me comfortable in the workplace. By the end of the week, I have known almost everyone in the company. We shared our dreams, life experiences, stories, how we got to iFoundries and so on. At the end of the day, we would show our appreciation by thanking each other for our hard work.
It make one felt appreciative, and ends off the day on a happy note.
Occasionally, boss would also take us out for a sumptuous treat… All you can eat buffet. Yummy!
The clan culture at iFoundries has indeed given me a sense of belonging and made my time here at iFoundries the most memorable and enriching one that will forever be etched in my mind. (Refer below for details on the Competing Values Framework we learnt in Organisational Behavior)
It was finally time to say Sayonara.
This was a little present I’ve prepared because I have no money for everyone at iFoundries. It represented my journey at iFoundries; coming in as an NTU intern at the top left and ending off with flying to South Korea for my exchange the next semester. In it, I wrote a personalized message to everyone.
I was asked to give a speech and to read out my messages to everyone. I’d skipped that part before this post turns into a wall of text.
In retrospect, the memories at iFoundries remains one of the most priceless treasure I attained in life. I have received numerous nuggets of advice from my colleagues from all walks of life. Even if time were to turn back, I would certainly choose iFoundries for internship once again.
Thank you, everyone. Surely, it was a memorable internship at iFoundries that I will miss dearly.
Word of Advice for Interns – if this post actually gets out(I’ve snuck it somewhere in the files)
For prospective digital marketing interns mulling over which internship companies to join…
Whether iFoundries is suitable for you or not depends on what you are looking for.
For me, it was a good workplace culture that gives gave me some autonomy to do my work and has emphasis in learning and experimentation.
At iFoundries, a lot of self-discipline is required as no one ain’t got time for an intern. You are expected to manage your own work as well as encouraged & given time to get your online certifications.
I wasn’t certain if digital marketing was for me (but I was sure it was the way to go for the future ) and iFoundries was a sounding board for me. I wanted to understand the functions and nature of a digital agency.
The final trigger for my decision was when I consulted a past NTU student (my senior) who worked there. He provided me with invaluable opinions which aid me in making my decision.
Every piece of work here is as unique as our clients - from travel to F&B to even automobile. At the point of my leaving, we were in talks with Honda to collaborate and manage their marketing campaigns. Hence, if you like being creative and imaginative, perhaps a marketing agency is for you.
If you love marketing but has no interest in digital marketing – I would recommend sapient. There has been many positive feedbacks about sapient from your seniors.
I wish you all the very best in your internship as well. May it be as meaningful for you as mine, if not more.
P.S. My views maybe bias as I have never worked at any other digital marketing agencies before and therefore have no idea how the grass on the other side feels like.