The internship: An experience coveted by many college students to kick-start their career. As a marketing student, this is often the first opportunity that one has to specialize and hone their skill set. Will it be in social media? Maybe branding? Or graphic design?
About a year ago, I faced the same decision and made a choice that was completely out of my comfort zone. My experience as a search engine optimization, or SEO, intern at Avalanche Creative has been career-changing.
What Is SEO and Why Do You Need an SEO Internship?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a vital element of any company’s digital marketing strategy. While other kinds of digital marketing—such as social media or product marketing—can vary greatly depending on the type of company or the resources they have available to them, SEO is constant. If a business has a website (and almost all of them do), then they should have an SEO strategy.
On top of the universality of SEO, it is arguably the most important element of online marketing; 32% of marketers worldwide stated that it has the greatest ROI out of all of their digital marketing tactics. Not only does it have the highest ROI, but SEO can teach you some of the most in-demand skills in the marketing industry today. This industry covers a broad range of skills, from web design and development to content writing and copywriting to, of course, search engine optimization.
Now, you may be thinking—wouldn’t it be more valuable for me to have an internship at a one-stop-shop marketing agency that will teach me about SEO plus a million other kinds of marketing? The short answer is simple: No. While one-stop-shop marketing agencies can teach you about a lot of different types of marketing, they will never be able to replace the hands-on, in-depth experience that you would get at an agency that specializes in a single kind of marketing.
How I Got Here
I began my junior year of college at Grand Valley State University with the same decision that every marketing student has faced: What will I specialize in? While my passion had always been in social media, I wanted to diversify my skill set. After hours of careful research and consideration, I narrowed my application process down to two companies. Even if I wasn’t sure what marketing industry I wanted to work in, there were a few things I was sure of: I wanted a team-based environment; I wanted to work for a local company; I wanted a small team. One of those companies, of course, was Avalanche Creative.
After curating my first-ever portfolio, editing my resume, and perfecting my cover letter, I applied to Avalanche’s intern position. The responsibilities for the position were very diverse; from editing and promoting The Avalanche Podcast to assisting in project management, I knew that I would have a lot of room to grow within this position.
However, things change. All it took was a baby that was a little too eager to be born and my job description changed completely; I have actually never touched a single project management responsibility. Instead, by the time I finished my semester, I was pulled into client work. And, to my surprise, I loved it. I had never worked with website development before and had never really understood how SEO worked, but, after many online courses and some hands-on experience, I started churning out content templates, editing websites, and more. Now, this is a field that I can see myself having a career in.
What I’ve Learned
I could fill multiple books with everything I’ve learned while at Avalanche Creative. However, a few key lessons stand out among the rest.
1. Empathy Is Everything
Everyone learns the golden rule in kindergarten: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It is one of the first ways that empathy is instilled in us. However, I never really knew how important empathy was until I started putting myself into other people’s shoes for a living. By using search empathy, I have learned how to focus on a user’s intent and utilize that to inform my keyword research, content writing, and website development within my position.
2. A Great Team Can Make or Break Your Experience.
One of the things I love most about my internship at Avalanche Creative is the team that I get to work with. In previous internships, I never really left my “student” role. I was only seen as the intern, and any input that I had wasn’t taken very seriously because I did not have the experience of my supervisors.
However, at Avalanche, the complete opposite has been true: My experiences and feedback have been used to benefit and shape several of our internal processes. Additionally, I am entirely comfortable asking questions to the rest of the team. Without a great team, I am sure that my internship experience would not measure up.
3. You Can Always Learn More.
One of the core values that I believe Avalanche lives every day is “education.” Never in a million years did I expect to learn as much within the last six months as I have. Of course, I know that learning is a part of having an internship; however, I could have never imagined that my classroom learning experience had lacked so much. Now, I learn every day at my internship, whether it be from a quick one-on-one, client work, or just a conversation that I overhear in the office.
4. Marketing is Everywhere.
Behind every great company, product, or service is a fantastic marketing team. This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but think about the last company whose website you visited. I bet it was pretty well constructed, right? And came up pretty high on the Google search engine results page? Yeah, that’s because of companies like Avalanche Creative. Now, think about a product that you consider a staple in your home—maybe it’s your toilet paper or the laundry detergent you use. I bet that has a pretty good product design, right? It’s pretty easy to use? And you’ve probably seen a commercial for it before?
Marketing is in every product we touch, every service we use, every company we purchase from, and we don’t even realize it. Every website I have ever visited uses SEO in some capacity or another. When I look up “chinese food near me,” it’s marketing that brings those results to the top of the page.
Are you sold yet? Ready to launch your search for the perfect SEO internship? Well, luckily, I have some insight into that too – check out our blog next week for some key tips on securing your SEO internship