6 Things I Learnt During My First Month At Gravytrain

Our Paid Social and PPC Executive shares insight into the world of Digital Marketing.

20 Madeline Ralph

Not only was my first month at Gravytrain my first of full-time employment, it was my first insight into what really goes on behind the scenes of a digital agency.

From bridging the gap between university and employed-life, to figuring out the structure of the office and saying ‘yes’ to all kinds of different opportunities. Turns out the world of digital marketing is even more fast-paced, complex and rewarding than I imagined.

1. There is a Definite Gap Between University and the Working World

Despite studying at university in the field of marketing, I’ve quickly come to realise that three years of learning theory and models from the 1950s might not have prepared me for the world of digital marketing quite as well as my lecturers had me believe. The lag between Google releasing a new ad format and a lecturer researching, writing and delivering a semester-long course on the subject left me with a few gaps to fill in by myself, to say the least.

Education gap image

Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to get hands-on with PPC accounts and digital projects since starting work, which has accelerated my learning and allowed me to put some of that marketing theory into action.

2. You are in a Constant Race to Keep Up with the Fast Pace of the Digital Industry

On graduation day, when you are finally handed your degree certification and rewarded for all those years in education, no one can take that away from you for the rest of your life. However, the first exams I took whilst working in industry (Google’s AdWords exams) will be taken away from me in 12-months time. The digital industry is so fast paced and changeable that what is considered important or innovative today, could feasibly be redundant in a matter of months.

As a consumer it’s easy to notice the seemingly never-ending release of new digital technology but from inside the industry looking-out, everything happens even faster. Those annual e-mails that “your certification is due to expire” will be a career-long reminder of this.

3. The Power of Collaborating

One of my favourite things to have discovered about working at an agency thus far is that putting a bunch of technical, creative and strategic experts in one room whilst challenging them to complete tasks allows everyone the opportunity to play to their strengths. Having a go-to person that will figure out the technical problems and someone else that will perfect the aesthetics of a presentation means that no component of a task is completed with a compromise.

In addition, working at a smaller digital agency comes with the satisfaction of being able see a project from start to finish- there’s no sending work off to sales on floor four and losing sight of the bigger picture. Bringing me onto the next point…

4. Things Can Happen Quickly (when You Want Them to)

Whilst a collaborative way of working does lend itself to multi-tiered decision making and inevitable delays with work sat in inboxes waiting for the next person in the chain to complete their task; when time is of the essence, having a team of experts powering a project is sure to get things done quicker than any individual wearing all-hats.

Remember when teachers told you that group work was important because ‘that’s how the real-world works’?

Well, I guess they were right all along.

5. Ask All the Questions From Day One

Whether I’m asking my colleague, Google or the receptionist; I think it’s important to start learning about all aspects of the organisation and the job role from day one. I found that each person I asked had something different to tell me about how the office functioned, as well as opinions on how the work could be done. Importantly, I learnt a lot from asking about how things were done in the past and with whom, as well as what the plans are for the future are.

Whilst everyone’s priorities and opinions differ, asking questions like “why is the account structured like this?” is just as important as “where is the tea cupboard?” when it comes to settling in to a new organisation.

6. There’s Loads of Opportunities – Just Be Ready to Say Yes

Do you want to sit in on this meeting? Yes. Do you want to write a blog post about your first month at Gravytrain? Yes. Do you want to enter the company bake-off, even though you’ve been warned of last year’s pro-standards? Yes… I think so.

The 2016 Contestants for the Gravytrain Bake Off The 2016 Contestants for the Gravytrain Bake Off

I knew there were likely to be various opportunities for me to get involved with as a new-starter but it wasn’t until I spoke to fellow new-starters at different organisations that I really started to appreciate the value of working at a smaller agency. From working on live client accounts in week one, to contributing to new business strategies in my first month, I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to bring more than coffee orders to important meetings.