Midway: Some Happy Thoughts and Messages

It is now the sixth week of the internship. The brevity of this program is really beginning to sink in, and I do find myself wishing we had more time.

Here’s a picture of the cafe. Isn’t so cool? I love that it’s sprawled through one of London’s old buildings.

I love the work we’re doing. Deliverables, goals, expectations, they’re all changing and transforming into completely new and different things, but they’re so much fun. To any and all future or prospective interns reading this: I hope you love this job as much as I do. I really, really hope you find the work of putting your knowledge to professional use fulfilling, and that the social impact is equally fulfilling. No matter what internship you’re looking at, whether it’s with SAUT or Mikono Yetu or Aga Khan University or something else: you’ll be perfect for the position if you love what you’re doing. Putting your loved skills and knowledge to use in a dynamic work setting will help you change and develop even faster than in school, I believe.

And here’s SAUT’s campus, while we’re at it! Also incredibly pretty – makes me wish I could go explore it!

Here’s what we’ve been working on lately:

  • With YOU, we’re deep into brand development and product launch plans. Things are getting set back slightly, but overall, we’re lining up our brand design, packaging production, and coupon launch to match with one of London’s festivals so we can hand out discounts and get people to swing by! We’re looking at setting up a meeting with the youth mentors and some more youth from the culinary program to help them understand what Fiti is and how to build the brand. The youth are going to pick our colours, fonts, and everything related.
  • Then we’re going to start building an education plan / booklet for the youth mentors. That way, they can teach the new youth about Fiti every year.
  • With SAUT, I’ve been in regular communication with one of the students! His name is Peter and he’s very excited about the project, which is so relieving to see. We discuss the kitchen and he’s going to help us with student engagement.
  • Which, speaking of student engagement, has become our new main deliverable for SAUT. Delphine wants us to help build a sustainable engagement model that is set up with good bookkeeping, clear roles and responsibilities, and expectations. This way, motivating the students to sell 40L a day will be much easier and they can manage that either on their own or with the next batch of WHE interns.

It’s funny – for a couple weeks, it felt as though YOU and SAUT were headed in completely different directions. Diverging from the same goals and developing completely different deliverables at completely different rates. But now they’re converging again. We’re developing education, structure, brand and engagement for both groups. It’s almost uncanny that the puzzle of this internship has developed this way!

(I like puzzles. When I can frame problems as puzzles is when I am at my happiest.)

It makes me wonder what the marketing industry is like. How much do the deliverables change there? You still need reports, you still need data and predictions and plans and campaigns and more data, but how much do your goals end up shifting? Do they shift all that much when you’re working for a large, well-established company? Is it railroaded up there, the rails made of “here’s our recipe, copy-paste this” and the spikes holding it all together the “this is what works” mindset?

Because, honestly, I enjoy watching the deliverables change and shift and mould into new things. Again, I like puzzles. Part of the puzzle of making something work is figuring out what’s actually needed. And in this internship, we’re given the freedom to do just that. At this point in our academic and professional careers, the answer is not obvious. I can’t look at YOU’s data and go “oh, of course, you need a three-year Search Engine Optimization plan and a ten-year investment plan”. (That’s made up, by the way. I don’t think that’s how plans work.) I have to sit there with what little knowledge I have and constantly realize that I have less knowledge than I thought the day before. And I have to figure out the puzzle.

My biggest worry, I think, is that I’ll never get an experience as cool and thrilling as this in the working world. That I will be railroaded. That someone else will have the answers and my investigations will be moot.

I write this because I hope the future and prospective interns that read this can visualize what this experience will look like for them. Entering into this internship, I really had no idea what was ahead. Never having had experience in marketing before, I could not fathom what this was going to look like. This wasn’t a bad thing; perhaps it was even good. I could not set up expectations and therefore I could not allow myself to be frustrated when those expectations were assuredly warped. This experience was simply allowing myself to be curious about the unknown ahead, which I think is a valuable experience to hold for the rest of your life.

So yes. Future interns, know that the road will not be straightforward in this experience, and that this is the most valuable and enjoyable aspect of the entire thing. Your supervisors will warn you that, although setting goals is critical to your success, they will undoubtedly change and you should brace for it. But it’s the best thing! This is your chance to look into a problem and say “I think your root problem is actually this. You will find the most success and it will be sustainable if we address this factor first.” And the fun is that you very well may not be challenged or overruled. Nobody is there to say “that’s not the actual answer”. You have to trust your gut that this is the right answer. And you’ll come up with it together with your interns and supervisors, of course, but there’s no right choice. Ever. You make the choice and then see if it’s right. Or you make it right.

I’ll end my rambling there. I think I’ve made my point.

We’ve got a few goals lined up for the next few weeks: build YOU’s brand with the youth; establish responsibilities for SAUT’s onboarding program; and start measuring progress.

See you on the other side!

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