By Lauren | January 4, 2016 | 0 Comment
Happy new year! To kick off a new year, and another year of me blogging, I thought it would be fun to start a new series for 2016 where I interview young professionals working within the marketing industry. The goal of these interviews is to inspire, and also give some insight on young professionals, their roles, and the super cool places they work. Up first for my series is Mackenzie Ewing, Content and Community Manager at Ten Thousand Coffees, a platform that allows you to search and select from thousands of professionals (senior or junior) and invite them for a cup of coffee, allowing you to build your network and connect with other professionals. Check out what Mackenzie had to say:
I have a very broad range of interests, so there’s (thankfully) a lot more to know about me than what’s on my LinkedIn profile. Since I was a kid I’ve always played a lot of music, and I’ve been interested in photography since I started university, but for the past few years I’ve been really interested in cooking and opening my own restaurant. I’m always inspired by the passion chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs have for their work, and I think it ties in well with a lot of my interests.
Like most startups, working with a small team at Ten Thousand Coffees has given me the opportunity to be a part of many different types of projects and initiatives. Most of my time is spent working on three core tasks: editing and marketing our blog content, writing copy for our platform and emails, and maintaining our social media accounts. However, I also manage our help desk tickets, design graphics, handle our video and photography needs, and work with our team of developers to create and implement tests on our platform. Many people wouldn’t like the lack of focus in my role, but I really enjoy being exposed to such a broad range of tasks; It forces me to be constantly pushing myself to improve and there’s a ton of value for anyone in communications to be exposed to all facets of a company.
I actually “dropped out” of my university program, Multimedia & Communications at McMaster University, to gain experience in the field and gain a better understanding. I was frustrated by having no industry experience or access to internships, and I found that I was learning more from my personal projects and hobbies than I was from my formal education. I do think there’s a lot of value in a post-secondary education of any kind, as long as it aligns with your career aspirations, and I am planning on finishing my degree sooner than later.
That being said, I would say around 80% of what I do is using skills that I’ve developed working at Ten Thousand Coffees, it’s part of the process of developing your own role instead of starting a job with a defined skill set. I would encourage anyone who doesn’t have a formal education to dive headfirst into whatever they want to do and just figure it out along the way!
I was hired as an intern in May 2014 to make videos and write content alongside the Content Manager at the time. Near the end of the summer she decided to go to law school, and I was offered her role. My role slowly evolved from there into what I do today as our company grew.
My day-to-day work varies pretty dramatically depending on our company-wide initiatives and my personal goals for the week. Some days I’m exclusively focused on company priorities, like working with our design lead to write platform copy for updates like our privacy settings menu or new features we’re developing. On days when I have a little more flexibility, I’ll spend more time on social, looking for interesting content that’s relevant to our audience, promoting content and building relationships with potential partners or testing new referral tactics on our blog.
Two skills that are essential for my role are writing and critical thinking, both skills that always have room for improvement. Strong, concise writing will open an infinite number of opportunities for you. If you can clearly communicate an opinion or an idea, whether it’s via social media, a blog post, or an Instagram caption, you’ll build an audience for your company or project.
Critical thinking is another skill that’s essential for pretty much any role, but it’s critical for working at a young company where you’re creating your own processes and focused on problems that haven’t been solved before.
I would share the same advice I’d give to anyone looking to work at a start-up or a small company: put a lot of thought into how you can deliver value to the company, and then persistently demonstrate that value until you can get a foot in the door. From my experience, a lot of recent grads reach out via cold emails to ask if a company is hiring without stating what value they think they can bring to the company. That’s not an effective way to get noticed by a potential employer.
I’m a huge advocate for trying as many different things as you can to really get an understanding of what you enjoy doing and, more importantly, what you don’t enjoy doing. A lot of young people are told that they need to find a career they’re passionate about, but your job doesn’t have to be your passion and the idea that it does causes many people a lot of anxiety. For me, the ideal career is something that you enjoy and find challenging, but pays enough to support the lifestyle you want to live and the side projects you want to work on.