In the very first instalment of our Startup Work Experience series, I asked Seow Yue Ling, Marketing Executive Intern at Popular Chips, an influencer marketing analytics platform, a few questions about her 3 month long summer internship at the company.
Approximately how many employees and interns did the startup have when you were with them? How many individuals performed the same role as you did?
When I first started my internship, there were 3 employees and 6 interns at Popular Chips. There were 6 individuals in the marketing department.
That’s a lot of people doing marketing! There must have been quite a lot to do. What was the marketing team in charge of?
We did content marketing, digital marketing and event marketing. For content marketing, we posted articles on the Popular Chips blog on a daily basis and created newsletters on a weekly basis, monitoring the performance of both the blog articles and the newsletters. For digital marketing, we reached out to potential clients directly via LinkedIn and Instagram. And for event marketing, during the time I was there, we planned and executed a University Influencer Roundtable.
What was the most interesting project you were tasked with while working there?
The most interesting project was the event that I was tasked to spearhead – the University Influencer Roundtable.
Tell me a little bit more about this University Influencer Roundtable.
It was to create a platform for influencers to gather together to exchange ideas and better understand one another’s journey as influencers. As the name of the event suggests, only university influencers were invited. It was a success! The influencers, especially budding influencers who were just starting out, thought it was a good platform for them to learn.
What was the greatest difficulty you faced in carrying out your role?
Sourcing for sponsors for the event.
What sort of challenges did you face when sourcing for sponsors?
When sourcing for sponsors, we had to be careful to meet the dietary restrictions of potential influencers we were inviting. For an example, we had to make sure that our food sponsors used ingredients that were Halal.
We also had to work within a tight budget.
Why/how did you choose to work/intern in a startup instead of a traditional corporation?
In my opinion, the exposure you can get in a startup is a lot more than that in a traditional corporation. In addition, the hierarchical operations in most traditional corporations seems daunting, as compared to the non-hierarchical nature of startups. Personally, I prefer working in an environment where everyone seems like family.
Had you heard anything about startup work culture before you joined? If so, what did you hear?
Yes, I had. Startups are defined by the dynamics of the company and the way people behave and act in the company. What I mean is that startup work culture is pretty fast paced, so one will not be very much “protected” or “hand-held”. I quite enjoyed working in a startup and appreciate such culture.
It seems like you were exposed to a lot of things very quickly. What was one instance where your bosses asked you to do something that you weren’t sure you were ready for?
It wasn’t a situation where the bosses told me what to do or forced me to do anything that I wasn’t ready for. Instead, it was more of an opportunity to rise up to the occasion. The University Influencer Roundtable event was one example. Even though I was an intern, I was given the opportunity to lead in the planning of the entire event!
What do you think is an important quality trait for startup employees to have?
I think it is essential for one to be disciplined, motivated and flexible.
Let me ask you about one of these traits. How does being disciplined figure into this?
Since the bosses give a lot of freedom for us to choose what we want to do in each day, we have to be disciplined in order to achieve what needs to be done. If one is not disciplined and procrastinates on their work, they will not be able to complete the tasks that need to be done by the end of the day.
Have you considered starting up before?
What sort of advice would you have for someone who is going to start work at their first startup?
Being open to change and being flexible is really crucial.
Why is being flexible important? How did being flexible help you at Popular Chips?
When carrying out our tasks or solving a problem, we have to look at the problem from various perspectives to make sure that we complete the task in the most effective way possible. For example, it does not mean that we should continue to work in a certain style just because it has been adopted and used for a long time, especially if we have better suggestions.
From the perspective of an employee, what sort of advice would you give startup founders on how to create a good workplace environment? These can be things your bosses did well, or that you would have liked them to do more of.
I really appreciated how my bosses gave me the freedom to structure my day and were open to new ideas as they really encouraged us to share and that meant a lot to me. In addition, their encouragements and a sense of belonging to this family over at work really made me enjoy my internship there.
What sort of new ideas did you propose?
I suggested a new style of writing to potential clients to see if such a style will have a higher rate of response.
Finally, tell me a little bit more about how Popular Chips was like a family to you.
It all boils down to the way they [the bosses] treated us as employees. Even though they were our bosses, they did not put any sort of a hierarchical distance between us. They always treated us with respect and love.
Interested in working for Popular Chips? Take a look at their job openings here.
Worked in Popular Chips and have a different perspective to share? Want to tell us your experience working at a different startup? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, reach us via our Facebook page or leave us a comment right here!
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