My Sookio work experience diary: Hack days, pwnage and job envy

Moving to bigger premises has meant that we can now offer the occasional bout of work experience.

Our first victim was Giovanna Pierce, who, after 18 years in telecoms, was looking to make the move to marketing. Find out what she learned about digital marketing during her time with the Sookio team.

Day one: My work experience at Sookio

You know when you have one of those ‘I’ve found my people’ moments? That was pretty much what happened to me today.

Director Sue has been lovely enough to let me come and do some work experience here at Sookio, so that I can start to learn the business of digital marketing and content writing.

I should probably explain why this is unusual. I’m not young, in fact, (my kids never tire of telling me), I’m pretty ancient. It has taken me a very long time, but I have FINALLY worked out what I want to be when I grow up.

After graduating, I had worked as a freelance illustrator for several years, for publishers and ad agencies, but then a hefty mortgage and a recession in 2000 meant I had to take a call centre job for a large telecoms company. I always thought I’d go back to something creative, I just didn’t realise it would take me quite so long.

I wasn’t alone or unusual in the call centre. There were other artists and writers there, who were doing it ‘just for now to pay the bills’.  

Unsurprisingly, I learnt a lot about human nature in that job. We were taught that when people show anger, it’s almost always coming from a place of fear - they are angry because they are frightened. Sounds obvious now, but that piece of information has helped me so much over the years.

After having my children, I managed to find a ‘proper job’ with the same company. It paid the bills and fitted in with the school run when my children were small so I stayed.

Somewhere along the way, the job of raising my children made me forget what was good at, or even what I wanted to do. As the children grew older and I began to emerge from the brain-addled fog that accompanies life with young children, I started to experience a strong sense that I should be doing something creative with my life.  I really knew it was time to retrain when I started asking strangers whether I’d had my tea yet.

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I have a reasonable grasp of the English language, and I really, really like words. Written or spoken, I don’t mind. I love the way words have the ability to change things (change lives!) I love the intricacies of our subtle and endlessly nuanced language. I’m fascinated by the relationship between words and pictures. Great design and clever advertising gives me goosebumps.

I had the idea that I might be suited to marketing and decided to go for it.

I studied at home, online, in the evenings and managed to get a couple of marketing qualifications. All that was left for me to do now was get a job… Easy, right? After all, I now had the piece of paper which says I can do the job. Wrong. It turned out that no one wanted to employ someone of my age, with no experience.

I’d applied for around 25 jobs, from Junior Copywriter to Marketing Assistant, to Person who Makes Tea for the Marketing Assistant’s Assistant. All these applications generated one interview, unsuccessful. (They liked me apparently, but were worried I hadn’t enough experience). I knew I would need to try a different tactic.

I had been helping my 15-year-old son apply for work experience and it gave me an idea.

A friend of a friend who works in marketing told me about Sookio. I screwed up my courage, contacted their Director, Sue Keogh, and asked if she could offer me some work experience. To my amazement, she did not laugh, but instead suggested we meet for coffee, and luckily for me, she seemed to like the idea.

Sue is someone who wants to educate others and share learning. She delivers training courses in digital marketing to a variety of industry people who need to understand the vagaries of SEO and social media.

She’s in the process of launching Sookio School, which I’m excited to watch taking shape over the next few weeks, having been a beta tester for this.  

It was very clear to me, within about ten minutes of arriving at Sookio, that it was a good place to be. Creative, engaged, clever people, who were happy and keen to talk to me about what they do.

I read Sookio’s mission statement. It was refreshingly worded and purposeful, (instead of a collection of meaningless platitudes that no one believes).

I soaked in the atmosphere and tried very hard not to be too annoying.

By the end of the day, I’d learned a bit about Buffer and Trello and Tweetdeck and MailChimp. I learnt what clients want and how Sookio deliver what they want. I learnt about how the work is handled and managed and some of the challenges that come with that.

I also learned about Hack Days – (Deepa’s fantasy job is working for Sylvanian Families). I learnt what “pwned” meant and how to say it. It’s “Powned”, if you’re interested. (Thanks Rory).

I left the office today with an overwhelming feeling of “why the hell didn’t I do this sooner?” And a MASSIVE case of job envy.  

Day two: Social media – oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

I’ll fess up. I’m not at all at home with social media. Something about it gives me the gip. I’m constantly terrified I’m going to say the wrong thing. This may be partly due to a particularly dire experience I had on Facebook, years ago.  

I’d written what I thought was an obviously jokey series of posts about a film I was watching.  I won’t go into details here, but that post resulted in an awful lot of extremely worried phone calls from friends, and a huge misunderstanding. It was my fault entirely. I just hadn’t noticed that my posts could be misconstrued MASSIVELY. I’d written them in an offhand manner, glass of wine in one hand and then closed the laptop. That event put me off for a very long time. I have only just ventured back onto Facebook. Baby steps.

Today I sat with Beth who makes everything look easy (I’m not fooled, Beth). She showed me how to use Buffer to schedule my posts. We chatted about Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn.

We looked at Sookio’s Pinterest account, and how and why they use it. I asked a lot of stupid questions, and Beth was extremely patient. She seems to know instinctively what will work. That is something I’m struggling to get to grips with. Here’s hoping I will get better with time and practice.

Day three: Writing for the web: more than words can say

Today I’ve had a masterclass with Chief Copywriter Rory and I’m feeling humbled. He’s initiating me into the dark art of writing for the web. I’m working on a piece about Sookio’s studio and meeting space which is FOR HIRE, people.

First of all, I wrote something that resembled this:

Which Rory turned into something that resembled this:

I sounded like an estate agent in my own head. I kept coming up with words and phrases like ‘situated’ and ‘ideally located’. It was so much harder than I thought. I started to hate myself.

Rory edited my work and I felt like a kid again, getting my homework back with red marks all over it. Once I’d got over myself and the existential crisis had passed, I started perversely looking forward to doing it all again next week.

And if all else fails, I’ve heard there’s a job going at TuckerGardner…

Here are just some of today’s copywriting learning points:

  • Less is nearly always more – say it with fewer words
  • Use the active voice wherever possible
  • Bullet points are great
  • Be direct - use active verbs like Sign up, Book now, Try a demo
  • Use plain English - ‘needs’ instead of ‘requires’
  • Contractions are your friend – (you’re instead of you are)
  • Think hard about your audience and the purpose of your writing – this should inform the tone

My last day at Sookio: There she goes!

Today’s my last day at Sookio. I’ve had such an amazing time and I have learnt so much about the industry.

I'm certain that my Sookio experience will stand me in good stead for getting a job in marketing in the future. I’m certain I will always remember it... I’ll keep you posted!

To find out how the Sookio team can help with your next digital marketing project, do get in touch.