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Aashima Verma

To give you a little background, I am a student at Fanshawe College pursuing Public Relations and Corporate Communications (post-graduate program). This internship is a part of my program now but, I applied for the internship last year when I graduated from Marketing Management at the college. I was excited for the opportunity to intern at tbk Creative then, but instead, I ended up pursuing another program. The opportunity at tbk Creative came at just the right time this time. This is perfect training before starting my dream career as a digital marketing specialist in the industry.

I am learning the best from the best. After all, the best is all that matters.™

My expectations from this internship were high. Why? Because tbk Creative is one of Canada’s highest quality providers of web design and digital marketing solutions (and was the winner of the Consumer Choice Award for Top Web Design Provider in London, Ontario for three consecutive year). There are some really happy Fanshawe Alumni working here. The team was gracious and kind right from the start – Before my internship even started, I was invited to join the team at their annual Christmas party, this time at Blue Mountain Resort.

On the day of the Blue Mountain trip, my first impression of the tbk Creative work culture was to spot Kylie McConnell (tbk Creative’s Director of Accounts), who was kind enough to offer me a ride to Blue Mountain, working on her laptop passionately on the day she was officially on a break. No, she didn’t have obligations or deadlines, just sheer love for her work. The next amazing thing happened when one of our clients had an emergency issue with their website. The vehicle – which comprised of four of us – stopped and devised a game plan to get on the server remotely and fix the client’s problem, all while the team was on route to Collingwood. This level of commitment towards work tbk Creative’s clients is hard to ignore. 

Some of the team at an annual retreat to Blue Mountain Resort.

Once we reached the venue, it was no short of a glamorous evening. I almost felt my presence unfair. But there I was, having complimentary food and drinks. There is a reason I deem myself lucky to be there. They also had a mini-award ceremony with speeches more powerful than Oprah’s #timesup speech. No, this is no exaggeration. I could feel the passion and meaning while I listened to the speeches and I didn’t even know anyone then. One of the speeches which I won’t forget was by Andre LeFort, tbk Creative’s VP Technology. 

Andre Lefort, “I am not sure how we will get there, but, with you guys besides me, I am sure, we will.”

On my first day, Karah Blandford, an account coordinator at tbk Creative, officially introduced me to the whole office. I loved the kitchen because it had my favorite types of tea already! On my first day, I had a bunch of orientation and reading to do. I was going through the training documents when my curiosity had me wondering where tbk Creative started. Looking for answers, I stumbled upon tbk Creative’s story page where I finally got to know that tbk Creative stood for “Tagged By Kindness.” I could not stop reading it. I could not believe how I had met the stars of this story. It is so inspiring to be a part of the incredible journey of tbk Creative. 

My second day was amazing because I fell in love on this day – and not with a human. I met Molly and Trevor – the tbk Creative office dogs, and the cutest receptionists I’ve ever seen. While I was just floating around the office with my laptop and being trained by the best industry experts, I got a notification on Slack saying “We got cupcakes. Come get one!” Just when I thought it could not get any better, it did. The Chief Creative Officer and the CEO of tbk Creative, Melissa McInerney, got prettiest cupcakes for the team.  

 

One of the office dogs, Molly, and a couple boxes of cupcakes!

When I saw the dogs and the cupcakes together, I said loudly that it’s time for #cupcakesandcuddles. I thought it was interesting how I already felt so comfortable. I was scared for a second but then, Melissa just acknowledged my creativity and commented on using the phrase as a hashtag.

Mental Note: Melissa is the boss lady that I aspire to be.

Day three caught me by surprise because there were very few employees in the office. On Fridays, employees are given the option to work remotely if they wish to. On this Friday, I was a part of the bi-weekly retrospective meeting followed by WordPress training. I also wrote content for a leading  company, OE Canada’s landing page. So far, in just three days, I had already been trained on Slack, Dropbox, Google Calendar, WordPress, and tbkBase. It was exciting, refreshing, and surprisingly – my nervousness disappeared. Every team member was extremely helpful, and you tend to get comfortable in this environment before you realize it.

The Essential Toolkit

A regular day in an intern’s life is around four hours. At tbk Creative, one of the most interesting tools I used to track my effectiveness was Time Harvest. Herein, you start logging in your time with Daily Prep and switch the timer every time you change your task. At the end of the day, I took a screenshot of my timesheet and sent it off to the team.

I formed a habit of checking my calendar before I began my day at the office. It not only helped me know what I had to do in my to-do list but also helped me to check if team members were available to assist me with certain tasks that I may have dependencies on. In that case, I had to look at their calendar and Slack them to check if they were available to assist with the given task or project.

This brings us to one of my favorite tools. Because of my keen interest in ‘internal communications’, I loved using Slack. In fact, a new survey result released by the company this week, Slack users — 1,629 paid users, to be exact — say that they see an average of 48.6% reduction in email.

80%

of respondents said that it improved transparency and office culture. It’s also dropped the number of meetings by 24%, while increasing overall productivity by 32.4%, it said.

The majority of the work I did at tbk Creative was on the popular content management (CMS) system, WordPress. I already had some experience using WordPress but, the way tbk Creative utilizes the CMS is a little different. The development team is closely involved in every project. Every website project actually involves many members of the team from developers, graphic designers, account managers, digital specialists and, of course, the client. One of the biggest lessons from this internship was learning how these these workflows and processes coordinated together. Tettra – a wiki to organize and share the team’s collective knowledge – helped me get acquainted with this production environment quickly.

When Week 2 began, I was entrusted with even more tasks. It kicked off with a training session on backlink and citation-building from Joshua Waller, a digital specialist at tbk Creative. When I see him doing all of these amazing things, a part of me tells me that I can do it too. He graduated from the same college program and even had the same job as myself at one point, working as a digital marketing specialist at a local jewelry brand.

One thing that I love at tbk Creative is the way staff communicates with each other. If I had to explain the team in one word, it would be, ‘supportive.” Each one of these incredibly talented people has each other’s backs. They value each other’s time and work effort. More than anything else, they are always there for helping each other grow. Rebecca Lajoie-Dyck, who is an account manager at tbk Creative (also a committee member at Ladies that UX), helped an account manager and I complete some web-maintenance tasks while she had her own work to take care of.

It was one of the most eventful weeks since I had joined the company. When I came on Wednesday, I was surprised to find out that I was going to be on a cover wrap on an issue of Business London magazine with other women at tbk Creative. After the shoot, it was followed up by drinks at Moxie’s Grill & Bar. While sharing the photoshoot or the celebration thereafter, I was so grateful for being surrounded by such powerhouse women.  

I worked on optimizing landing pages. There are hundred of ways to optimize content but, keywords still remain one of the most important aspects of optimizing a landing page. I was so excited about my training with Michael Ramsey (VP Digital) after two weeks. I have always been very interested in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 

I got an opportunity to work on a project with one of our client’s Smile Dental Centre. They have received the Consumer Choice Award in the category of Cosmetic Dentistry for five years in a row. I helped create a carousel post on their FB and Google+. One of my mentors commented that the way I communicate on email has improved drastically. It is a huge compliment to me because I was trying to improve this one area for so long. I was never trained on this aspect but, I learned while looking at everybody else’s emails. 

It’s amazing how excited I found myself every morning to come to work. This has never happened in my life. I always knew that I would be learning a lot at tbk Creative but; I never knew that I would learn communication or interpersonal skills to a degree that people will notice.  

In my quick chat with Andrew Schiestel, the president at tbk Creative, I told him how supportive everyone is here. I look at my coworkers’ calendars and they are pretty filled up with work. I do not feel overwhelmed when I see one of those for myself because that is exactly what I wanted.  

They will always tell you that agency-life is busy, but nobody tells you how exciting this thrill is.

March began with a lot of content writing. A generator services distribution and maintenance company, GenCare, recently engaged tbk Creative to build a new website and perform other brand identity work. I was given the opportunity to write some of the content for the service pages for the company. Before I began, I was skeptical that I would be challenged writing about generators, a topic that was newer to me. However, through research, following a certain structure for the page, and receiving feedback from my team and the client, the project went well!

The second week of March was fundamental because I learnt a vital lesson this week: the importance of briefing. In particular, I learnt how important it was to ask questions. I also learnt that it’s better to ask a question and clarify your doubts before starting to work on something than wasting time figuring out it all by yourself. I believe it is one of the most important things for effective project management. Efficiency shoots up once you are clear about your goal. Also, this lesson can be applied anywhere. As my supervisor Kylie McConnell says,

“In an agency environment, time is of the essence.

As in most cases it is the only product the company has available to sell.”

I completed another tweet-sheet for another of tbk Creative’s clients, Jiffy Lube® Ontario (59 stores). However, I was aware that these tweets were going to be shared but, when I stumbled upon one of these tweets that I wrote, I was so delighted. It’s one of my favourites because it was about staying in on Friday’s. Here’s some of the tweets I helped produce:

As a digital marketer, one of the most intriguing things for me are online advertisements. One of the reasons why I am such a fan of online advertising is because it is capable of exponentially increasing the reach of campaigns for small businesses at a relatively lower cost.

While shadowing Joshua, I noticed how important of a role geo-location can play in targeting. With a client like Jiffy Lube® Ontario which has 59 stores across Ontario, we have separate targeting for all the stores. What’s important is not only the places you want to target but also, the places you want to exclude. An important tip while advertising in London Ontario, for instance, is to ensure that London, U.K. is excluded from the campaigns. These nitty-gritty details make all the difference when you are aiming to be the first thing on the Search Engine Results Page  (SERP) for your ads. Another interesting thing was that I learnt was some of the basics of a Remarketing ad campaign. Shadowing Joshua while he performs his craft was the highlight of that week.

That month, I went for a one-on-one meeting with my supervisor. She is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met. When I asked her about her leadership role at tbk Creative, she commented that one of the most sought-after qualities in a leader is ‘humility’. She added if your team is unable to relate to you, they can not work with you. The conversation helped me learn one fundamental principle of leadership: transparency.

I genuinely believe that people who love to eat are the best people.

Turns out, the team has a secret obsession with the ‘drunk in love’ pasta by Fresno’s. It’s interesting to be surrounded by people who can talk about interesting topics off-work. Well, I think that is what makes us great marketers; we always have stories to tell.

This week I got the opportunity to be trained on SEO by tbk Creative’s VP Digital, Michael Ramsey. We met in tbk Creative’s boardroom and we covered a range of topics like Open Graph protocol, SEO ranking, Schema.org and some of the different considerations small and large businesses need to make with their SEO strategies. The value that I gained from that training will certainly help me in the field.

An interesting experience happened on me on March 15th, 2018. In the afternoon, I was a part of a meeting when we discovered an SEO breakthrough for OE Canada. It was found that there were over 15 PDF’s on the website driving quality traffic to OE Canada’s website through major search engines like Google. I was responsible for formatting and styling the content in these PDF’s and putting it up on the website. Here is a screenshot of one of those revamped PDF’s:

As an intern at tbk Creative, I was tasked with creating a shared client folder on Dropbox for one of tbk Creative’s e-commerce clients, Shoes, Boots ‘n Bags. My first reaction was that it would be easy; all I had to do was create a folder accessible to the client as well as our team on Dropbox. For years, I have used Google Drive for this purpose. I was hoping the process will be similar, however, it was not. I just could not find a way to transfer files from this old client-only folder to a shared-folder. I struggled, Googled a bit to try and find an answer, and wasn’t too sure if I was doing it the right way. At last, I thought that I would just download files onto my computer and upload them onto the shared folder. I could do that, but it was too time consuming and I didn’t have quite enough time to complete the task. So, I mustered some courage of looking like a fool and went to Alyssa Agnew, an account manager at tbk Creative. Turns out, I couldn’t upload files to the shared folder because that folder wasn’t shared with me yet!

Out of a handful of clients at tbk Creative that I’ve worked on, one of the most is the client, BERTEIG, one of Canada’s foremost consultation firms in agile training for corporate workforces. Recently, they launched an app called EDGE. It has been an interesting experience to follow the whole process from creative inception to launch.

Speaking of launches, one of the many cute things that tbk Creative does is celebrate their clients’ website launches internally. The team recently launched the new Municipal World website and I had the pleasure of enjoying some treats during this celebration.

For BERTEIG, I have not only loaded content but made countless formatting revisions. During the tenure of my internship, I have worked on around 25 subpages for this client and have become very proficient at building these pages. No wonder my eyes light up when I have more work to do for them. Since I was so closely involved with this project, I had the opportunity of learning a little about client-relationship-management. Here’s one of the pages that I have created using their WordPress CMS:

This was one of the 25 subpages that I helped create for BERTEIG using WordPress

As marketers, we focus a lot of our energy on external communication. Little realising that internal communication is the foundation of it all. It is even more important to know how to write your email to colleagues in such a way that it communicates exactly what you’re requesting them to do. The goal is to not leave any room for ambiguity. For example, while writing a brief to one of tbk Creative’s full-time graphic designers who works remotely, I began using terminology like H1, H2 etc. rather than just giving a bunch of text to convey my vision in a better way. I have come up with a 3-step process for doing almost any task that works well for me:

Clarify > Confirm > Create

April is a promise that May is bound to keep.

In the month of April, I primarily worked on two projects:

  • Creating landing pages for OE Canada Inc.’s PDF content
  • Creating BERTEIG’s private training pages

I worked on these projects incessantly during my last month at tbk Creative. Combining these two alone, I have helped create 40 sub-pages.

In conclusion, throughout my experience at tbk Creative, I have successfully achieved all the goals that I set in the beginning. In fact, I have surpassed them in ways I could not even imagine. My interpersonal skills have improved. The work-culture at tbk Creative has helped me thrive as a contributing team member. I have improved in things like writing emails, collaborating with my team, articulating my message well to clients and colleagues, and I have learnt how to be a part of projects with a bigger mission.

  • Aashima Verma, tbk Creative

    Being an intern at tbk Creative was a very insightful experience. It won't be wrong to say that my growth has been exponential during these three months. I am very grateful to the whole team for all the lessons and laughter. Special thanks to my mentor, Kylie McConnell, for encouraging me every step of the way.

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