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Christina Donati

November 6, 2020

This is the story of a master’s student’s journey from her well-known school environment into the world of digital work.

Content writer, digital adventurer, savvy grammar and editing lover and self-proclaimed burrito extraordinaire are the four traits that describe Christina best. Her journey begins in the depths of the Accounts Thunderdome at tbk’s downtown office in London, Ontario.

The start of any new job can be both scary and exciting; this is how I felt when walking through the doors of tbk for the first time.

As an eager soon-to-be-graduated master’s student from Western University, my first university-relevant position felt like a leap from my well-known and comfortable classroom setting. I remember asking myself, “Am I ready for what’s next?”

For me, beginning an internship at a marketing and software agency was an entirely new experience. Past job experiences included a lot of blog writing, PR writing and event coordination. I had never been in the type of setting that tbk is before.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect—would I be doing simple tasks that required no thought, or would I be bombarded into the digital world without understanding what I was doing? To answer this question, I was somewhere in the middle, and that was perfect for me.

The first week was a lot of onboarding information. Trust me, there’s a lot to take in. tbk has their own unique way of running their business, so jumping into all the programs and procedures can feel like a lot at once. However, they have everything outlined in such an organized fashion, so it’s easy to follow along and understand everything.

Aside from the training, I was surprised when tbk assigned me tasks. My initial thought was, “they really trust me to do this?” Throughout the week, Kylie McConnell, tbk’s Director of Accounts, assigned me tasks as if she had complete trust in me; that was a good feeling to have. She was also incredibly patient with my millions of questions. Trust me, don’t be afraid to ask! Kylie is super nice, and it’s better to ask then do something wrong and have to start over again.

My week included uploading content to WordPress for some of tbk’s clients, such as Jiffy Lube® Ontario and Renin™; updating Tricar’s Content Management Plan; responding to Jiffy Lube® reviews on Google; and even preparing and dropping off a proposal to a potential new client (I know, I’m surprised they trusted me to do this too!).

At the end of my first week, I was so thankful for tbk and everyone I was working with. Not only did I feel welcomed right away, but as the week went on, the team didn’t shy away from talking to me and including me in conversations.

This was my biggest fear as an intern—would I be included or not? Well, considering my very first day included joining in on a Mac ‘N’ Cheese Cookoff competition, I’d say I definitely was included. As someone who is incredibly shy at first, tbk really took away my fears and made me feel as part of the real team.

At the end of week one, I kept thinking: “I’m definitely ready for what’s next.”

Week two at tbk has been successful. The beginning of my week consisted of writing my first blog post: a blog for OE Canada about wide format printing. I must say, I definitely know a lot more about this type of printing than I did before (full disclosure: I had no clue what wide format printing was).

What is probably considered “not the most fun blog to write” ended up being something I really enjoyed. I’ve always been interested in researching and learning new things, so this was an area where I was able to do that. As someone who loves writing, this was a great way to begin my week.

On Wednesday, I was given the task to write an introduction and “Message from the President” for a SOW (statement of work) for a new potential client. Again, my initial thought was, “they trust me to do this?” But, unlike my first week, I felt confident to exercise the skills I’ve learned in University to complete this task. In the end, I was happy with my results and appreciative of the learning experience.

On Thursday, I was given the task of uploading promotions for Jiffy Lube® on their website and through their Google My Business account, so these promotions would show up on each location’s main pages and also on Google through search.

Digital and advertising are two aspects that I’m excited to learn more about at tbk, so I was thrilled when this opportunity came up. Joshua Waller, an Intermediate Digital Specialist at tbk, knows so much about SEO and digital, so I asked him questions I’m curious about because he’s passionate about the industry and always has a great answer.

“One of us! One of us! One of us!”

By week three at tbk, I feel like a fully-fledged team member. I felt comfortable to become my normal, quirky self with the team, and I became included in every office conversation. Before my internship began, I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in, that I wouldn’t be included and that I wouldn’t enjoy what I was doing. Now at the end of week three, all of these worries have dissolved into background memories that seem years old.

This week, I was given the task by the President, Andrew Schiestel, to write proposals for applications for the 2019 Web Awards. As a company that creates website content and digital marketing materials, it’s important for tbk to apply for these awards to earn credibility. Andrew wanted me to take the current proposals that were written and give them a bit of finesse; as Andrew called it, he was looking for the “golden nugget” in the proposals.

I feel truly honoured that Andrew asked me for my help with these. To me, that feels as though he trusts that I can hone the proper skills to make these proposals into what he wants to see. Although I am working with a tight deadline for these, I told Andrew that I like a challenge, so I got to work right away.

So far in my internship, this is definitely the most important task I have been given, and as someone who now feels part of the team, I am motivated to do my best. Besides, if tbk ends up winning a few of the awards they are applying for, I’ll feel as if I was part of that process in some small way, and that’ll be something I can brag about for sure!

Overall, I’m really enjoying my time with tbk. It’s a great environment, and the work is both fulfilling and educational.

One of the most notable events from my fourth week at tbk was the recognition notes. Every month, the staff in the office at tbk write short letters of recognition on magnetic cue cards to recognize someone else for their work. Then, they attach them to the white board in the scrum meeting room to display who was recognized that month.

This was one of the moments I realized how important building a positive company culture is, and I was especially happy to see tbk making an effort to do this. Since I had only completed three full weeks with tbk, I wasn’t expecting to be recognized for anything. To my surprise, I had not one, but five notes written for me.

As someone who tends to overthink and question a lot of what I’m doing in a new position, this helped me understand that I should be more confident in my work, and it was definitely nice to be recognized. This type of company culture is something that I’ve strived for in an organization.

Other aspects to note about tbk are the corporate events; next Friday, the entire tbk crew is heading to Canada’s Wonderland for the day. I’m really looking forward to this event, especially since I feel like I’ve become good friends with everyone on the team. Now we will see if my stomach can still handle roller coasters (I haven’t been on any since I was in high school).

Some of the work I completed this week included writing a “Message from the President” section in a Statement of Work (SOW). I sat in on Facebook and Instagram ads training and SEO training, I drove to Guelph to set up an AODA booth for a conference and picked up the materials the next day (wow that was an early morning) and I wrote content for a client’s website about their services. I enjoyed doing all of this, especially since writing content is my favourite kind of job, and everyone in the office is asking me to do this more and more as time goes on!

I’m confident in my choice to be with tbk for the summer; I definitely picked the right place to complete my internship.

Here’s me after I set up the booth in Guelph!

This week included completing a lot of work missions. Right away on Monday I was working on writing and editing content for a client’s website about some cosmetic procedures. This required a lot of research, but I felt like I was doing something fulfilling for the client!

I also created and sent out my first meeting agenda this week; I’ll also be attending the meeting to take notes. This is great account management experience, and proof that I’m really learning so many different skills here at tbk.

Both Josh and Emily (the digital team) were conducting a lot of training this week for some new team members. This training included lessons about Google Analytics, SEO optimization and digital reports. Since I have a passion for digital, I asked if I could sit in on these training sessions. Of course both Emily and Josh were okay with that, and they even listened to and answered my many questions (trust me, there were a lot). But I’m glad I asked because I learned a lot of important parts about these programs that will be useful in my future career. Besides, both Emily and Josh are good at explaining anything digital, and they’re super patient!

Finally, the best part of the week was tbk’s fun day: getting everyone in the office on a bus early in the morning to go to Canada’s Wonderland! Not many people can say they spent their work day at an amusement park, but at tbk you can.

This day deserves a big thanks to Alyssa and the rest of the social committee. Alyssa wanted to make sure tbk had a social aspect to it, so she put together a social team to plan days like Wonderland, the Mac ‘N’ Cheese cookoff and other social events. So for Wonderland, they rented a school bus to drive everyone to Toronto for the day.

I’m someone who likes roller coasters, but there’s a new one at Wonderland called the Yukon Striker. It seats eight people per row and drops at a 90-degree angle. When we first arrived, I warned everyone that I wouldn’t do that ride; however, after some friendly peer pressure, I found myself sitting in between everyone while plummeting down the coaster! In the end I was glad they wanted me to ride it with them because the Yukon Striker ended up being my favourite ride.

This was tbk’s official Coaster Crew! Out of all the employees, we were the ones left who could ride all the coasters!

Everyone, despite my fears, and enjoyed my time. This is a lesson I’m going to carry on with me for the rest of my time with tbk: to not be afraid to work on tasks that I’ve never been assigned before. To be honest, I like the challenge and the opportunity to prove myself, so if I dive into my work with no fears and no comfort zone holding me back, I think I’ll be able to accomplish great things.

tbk has really tried their best to cater my internship to meet my learning goals. For me, working on building my content writing skills, WordPress skills and ability to think in a consumer’s shoes for any area of work are the key ways I want to improve.

I’ve always had an analytical mind, so conducting audits and thinking functionality are two features I was able to bring to my internship, but I came to tbk wanting to be able to expand my creativity too. Through my projects, I’ve been able to develop a creative side—it’s still a work in progress though.

This week, I worked on re-designing a client’s homepage; they wanted to cut down a lot of the information and have it not feel so long. This job included deciding what content could be cut, thinking about a new design for icons and writing new content to go with the icons.

It was interesting to take this on and receive edits from Kylie. It’s very beneficial for me to see where I started and how Kylie reshapes my work into something marketable for the client. It’s definitely been a good learning experience for me to be able to stretch my analytical mind into also using the creative side too.

This week also included conducting a website audit for a client’s new site. I had to go through each page that’s currently been loaded and offering suggestions. I decided to structure this audit using “strengths” and “opportunities” instead of a full SWOT analysis in order to save time and just focus on what needed to be said about the new site. Since this was a task I’ve done before, I felt comfortable taking the lead.

I also sat in a few meetings this week to take notes. Based on these meetings, there were new projects for me to begin doing. For example, I compiled a list of media outlets that one client could contact to send a press release to, and I was able to edit the press release and offer suggestions based on my background in PR.

Another project, and one of my favourites, was to write content for an email marketing campaign for an upcoming AODA webinar. This was my first email campaign, and although there wasn’t a lot of copy to write, it’s a great task to try and write concisely while still trying to get all information across.

Although this week has been quiet in the office with any social activities, I’ve had a lot of projects and assignments going on that have kept me busy, so the week went by a lot quicker than I thought it would. You know what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun!”

There’s a saying people use all the time—it’s “all good things must come to an end.” For me at tbk, this quote is half true. Although my internship was supposed to run until August 23, this week will actually be my last day in the downtown office at tbk. At the end of week six, I was unexpectedly offered a full-time position at tbk to work at 3M here in London. Of course, I said yes!

Therefore, this week will be the end of me working in tbk’s downtown office, but I’m still technically part of the team. Luckily, I’ll get to see everyone I’ve become friends with at tbk social events, so that made me feel at ease when accepting this position at 3M.

I’m so fortunate that I’ve been offered this amazing opportunity, and it really was a surprise to me. Although I had voiced that I was interested in working full time with tbk, I wasn’t expecting an offer so fast.

Aside from my new opportunity that will begin next week, I’ve still been fortunate enough to work on many projects in the tbk office during my final week. This week started with a task from Arien to write a press release. I felt the pressure of agency life because I was told it needed to be done by 4 p.m. that day! This was more than enough time for me, but I had to do some minor schedule adjustments to fit it in. Nevertheless, I completed the press release in 1.5 hours.

Check out my full press release on tbk’s website!

To my surprise, Andrew sent me a message later that day commending me on my press release. To quote him, “your Dream Lottery news release was one of the best news releases I’ve read in a long while.”

I’ve written a lot of press releases through my master’s program, but this was my first one in an actual job setting, so it was awesome to receive positive feedback on it, especially from Andrew! I appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule just to tell me.

Other projects I got to work on this week included content loading for a client’s new website, continuing to audit the already finished pages, supporting Alyssa with her meetings and taking notes and making changes to another client’s homepage.

Finally, at the end of the week, the tbk Accounts team will be taking me out for drinks to give me a proper goodbye. Since I was only here for seven weeks, I wasn’t expecting anything, but this was also a nice surprise. I’m very sad that I won’t be able to see everyone in the office everyday anymore, but like I said, I’ll see them at social events.

I have so much to thank tbk for. Throughout my internship, my knowledge about best website practices has increased immensely, and I got to take on so many new projects and discover new ways to stretch my skills. After just seven weeks, I feel like I’m ready to take on any project in the digital world. I’ll definitely be recommending tbk to all future MMJC interns, and I’ll never forget how wonderful the team here has been in my growing and success.

tbk has a special place in my heart forever.

Thank you, everyone at tbk.