Going from the classroom to the real world can sometimes lend to many challenges. That is what makes internships so essential in helping to teach valuable skills, best practices, and expertise to the next generation of leaders.
One of our first official interns, Brian Love, reflected back on his summer with us, summarizing his key learnings and talking about his experience. The following is a post Brian put together for our Blog.
Digital marketing and user experience is an ever-evolving climate that requires quick critical thinking, constant analysis, and rapid comprehension. Having joined XDS as an intern this summer, I had a general understanding of what type of work would be suitable for someone in my position as part of this overall spectrum. While XDS had a high level plan and framework in place for internships, as a growing company there wasn't necessarily a detailed and fully formalized plan, which is understandable. Regardless, the team was easily able to integrate me into their workflow and help usher me along every step of the way, and I learned a ton.
Here are 10 new skills I learned in 10 weeks as an XDS intern:
1. Monthly Analytics Reporting
Staying organized and creating a monthly analytics report is not only a great way to track your progress and enable growth, it can also help identify potential trends early on or show areas of weakness that you can improve upon.
2. Paid Media Research
This was one of my favorite assignments, as I was allowed to get creative with potential solutions and strategies for paid media campaigns, such as Reddit ads, native advertising, TikTok, and even Pinterest.
3. Keyword Positioning
I learned about the importance of backlinking and target keyword placement based on search algorithm updates. Backlinking helps to establish credible and relevant links to your site. These optimizations can boost your SEO presence & rankings.
4. Competitor Research
Through competitor research I learned to evaluate a brand’s digital presence and digital opportunity. This included social media research and organizing the findings based on best practices and research about topics to post about on social media in order to generate more traffic to the website.
5. Website UX Audit
Analyzing the layout of a website was not something I could have seen myself doing three months ago. As someone who has very little knowledge of site creation or UX design, it was a challenge to describe better ways to make the site flow. I am no expert on what a “good” website should look like, nor do I know how to build one, but I gathered recommendations based on my firsthand user experience about ways to improve the current website and site flow.
6. Assess GTM Accounts
Google's Universal Analytics will be retired on July 1, 2023. This means that all accounts need to be set up in GA4. To help with this transition to GA4, I was tasked with documenting the current GTM setup, including the current GTM account ID, the number of tags, number of triggers, and number of user-defined variables for each container. This was essential for my team to set up GA4 and continue capturing website analytics when Universal Analytics goes away.
7. Technical SEO Monitoring
Using SEMRush, I scanned websites to identify technical and SEO errors, warnings, and suggestions. These things can all impact overall website health and SEO performance, and fixing any issues can improve overall site functionality and search engine rankings.
8. Quarterly Social Media Report
Compiling social media performance information into a presentable slide deck not only demonstrated my ability to create a deliverable, but also displayed a concise and accurate summarization of essential information. This task required me to use critical thinking to make sure I only included the most essential information while displaying it in a way that is easy to understand and take action if need be.
9. Website Analytics Report
Analytics is one of the most important measures of the success of your website. Variables such as users, bounce rate, and average session duration are just a few of the metrics used to measure growth on a month-to-month basis. You need to be able to interpret the data and display it in a way that explains why a website is doing better or worse while providing the data that show areas to improve and what is currently working well.
10. How to Be a Professional
Although this skill is listed at #10, this is probably the #1 skill I took away from my experience with the XDS team. Whether I was learning new software, learning about a client’s brand, or understanding feedback on an assignment, the leaders I worked with taught me a lot of best practices to look for and focus on. This helped me grow from a student who was looking for some summer work, to a leader ready to conquer and face, head-on, any challenge that crosses my path.
Whether compiling analytics reports, consolidating and interpreting data, or auditing a website, I am now well versed in a variety of new skills that will allow me to go out and face the next opportunity head-on. The compassion shown toward me allowed me to stress less about whether I was doing everything right, and to ask questions and seek help when I needed it. I quickly caught onto the schedule and developed a routine.
I am forever grateful for the valuable skills, knowledge, and practices I learned through my time with the XDS team, and I encourage everyone to check out the great work they are doing.