Internship In The Storm Of A Pandemic? Let’s Do It.
EPIC’s Social Media Intern Reflects on Her Virtual Work Experience
I never thought my first internship experience would play out the way it did. But looking back on how I got here, I wouldn’t change a thing, because I got the opportunity to do something EPIC. In September 2020, the people of EPIC Creative welcomed me with open arms as a social media intern. Onboarding amid the difficulties of 2020 was one for the books, but I quickly realized how flexible the team at EPIC is.
I had three aspirations going into this internship:
1. Get some in-office experience.
Unfortunately, because of COVID, that is now on the backburner.
2. Gain professional experience and skills.
Applying the course material I’ve learned at UW-Madison to my position here at EPIC was one of the most exciting aspects of my internship. However, I have gained far more experience by tackling real, hands-on client projects versus just sitting in a lecture.
Talk to people, listen to their stories, and learn from their experiences. How does one land a job they actually like? (Hint: Talk to an EPIC employee; they’ll tell you.)
More To Social Media Than Meets The Eye
The biggest challenge I faced was trying to understand the ever-changing social media landscape. Social media waits for no one! It doesn’t come with an instruction manual either. (Or if it does, I hope it’s written in pencil because it would need to be erased and rewritten a lot!)
It’s not as easy as you’d think … even if you have been a social media user your whole life. From what I’ve gathered, different platforms have their own niche with specific targeted audiences and algorithms within the newsfeeds. Oh—they’re not called captions, it’s pronounced “copywriting.” Switching between brand voices—each with their own personalities—can get tricky. Learning all this is like trying to fill up a strainer with water … especially when your “teachers” are teaching through a screen. Explaining how to schedule a social media post would have taken a minute or two in person. Instead, I learned through a 10-minute demonstration on Slack.
What I learned is that staying organized is key and literally the only way to keep your head above water in this crazy busy industry. For example, knowing your audience in the social space is the most important aspect of social media. You must understand what time your fans are online, what content they find interesting, and which platforms they spend their time scrolling on. A single social post has various considerations:
A post can either be paid or unpaid (organic). Receiving high organic engagement is ideal for social media marketers as it indicates genuine interaction. Organic content—such as user-generated content—allows the brand to build deeper connections with its targeted audience. For simplicity, think of a paid post as an advertisement.
A content pillar categorizes the intent of the post. Deciphering whether to post a video, photo, or link on a platform depends on the pillar. For example, user-generated content can be a content pillar with the intent to further strengthen customer relationships or engagement via fan-submitted content. If referral traffic is the content pillar, a post sharing a link to a company-focused reference article may perform better than simply posting a photo with branded creative.
Copy length depends on the platform and the content pillar. Shorter copy outperforms longer copy—not a surprise considering humans’ 8-12 second attention span.
Long story short, the planning process for social postings is very strategic and took me months to wrap my head around.
The extent of my social media knowledge prior to this internship was limited, to say the least. I thought I knew everything there was to know about social, but each day brings new learning experiences—like setting up my first Facebook account. (Which as a proud member of Gen Z I had never had!) Running a personal account is VERY different from a business account and has made me realize how strategic this field is. I was accustomed to posting whatever, whenever, and however I wanted. If an Instagram post got more likes than my last post, I viewed that as a win. Then I met this thing called reporting. Now impressions and engagements have claimed my attention. Likes? They just don’t move the needle.
Running a personal account is VERY different from a business account and has made me realize how strategic this field is.
There are many steps between the implementation and reporting stages. In agency life, there are spreadsheets for just about everything. Posts are drafted, edited, finalized, and then scheduled about two weeks to a month in advance. Reports are rolling the first day of the next month. No time is wasted. Right when you think you’re finished with last month’s report…ope, don’t forget about that mid-month report! Observe, adjust, repeat. After 10 months as an intern, I have a greater appreciation and a newfound perspective on the depth and detail of social media.
Scrappy, Honest + Kind: Culture Makes The Difference
It’s odd to realize that everything I have learned about social media marketing has been through shared screens, phone calls, and Slack messages. I’ve seen the inside of people’s home offices and their pets before meeting them in person. But, while virtual networking has been challenging, EPIC’s SCRAPPY ways have made this entire experience not only possible, but enjoyable. Of course, thanks to the crazy COVID curveball, I still have much more to learn. Things like how to dress business casual, or how to avoid being distracted all day by the cute furry, four-legged “coworkers.”
Social media is a dynamic industry, and I have grown to savor the fast-paced agency life. We all have individual account responsibilities, but when fires arise, it’s all hands on deck. Everyone has each other’s back to get things done by the due date. When it’s time to collaborate, I am so glad I’m on EPIC’s team.
I am not sure what long-term position I am chasing, but I can HONESTly tell you that I aspire to end up in an environment with EPIC’s energy. There are so many things that make it such a desirable place to work. For starters, the no a**hole policy is to blame for my lack of negative encounters thus far. I received festive holiday cards and various gifts from EPIC in the mail. Fun Slack channels centered around music, yoga, and birthdays are how I start each day. And cross-cultural training sessions are a company priority and another reason why EPIC is a special place to work!
Most importantly, I felt included by people I have never shaken hands with. To this day, I remain blown away by the amount of respect I have received from every EPIC employee I have crossed paths with. KINDness is embedded within the company culture, and it shows. EPIC’s personality has withstood all the virtual work compromises.
If you’re interested in a work environment with awesome people, culture, and atmosphere, then EPIC is the place for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out … EPIC is always seeking new faces and wagging tails.