A few days will mark five months since I finished school and stepped out into the “real world.” Last night during a four-mile run, I evaluated the last few months in my head. I thought about how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned and how many things I still need to figure out.
When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Then I realized that although I find medical science fascinating, I’m a little squeamish when it comes to body fluids, funky smells, and people in immense pain. I switched my major to business and was absolutely miserable in all of the useless math classes on my schedule (does anyone actually use calculus?). As I sat stressed out of my mind in an FIU advisor’s office one day and told her my thoughts, she suggested that I become a communications major. “You’ll never have to take a math class again,” she promised.
Minutes later I declared myself a Public Relations major at FIU’s School of Journalism and Communication. I absolutely loved all of my SJMC classes and everything that I was learning in them. When trying to decide on a minor, several advisors told me that I was a decent writer and explained that it pairs well with a PR degree. Creative writing it was.
I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from FIU in December 2009 and had a rough time getting a job in Miami. No habla es panol. So I packed my life up into my Mini Cooper and drove 2,700 miles to Los Angeles, California.
My first internship was at a fashion PR firm in West Hollywood. I spent my days gifting celebrities with free clothes and handbags and then stalking them to see if they went out in public or were photographed wearing them. Although I loved the west coast, I quickly lost interest in doing nothing meaningful and decided that it was a good time to return to school. After six months in LA, I headed back to South Florida to start grad school classes at FIU.
I graduated from the two-year Global Strategic Communications program in 18 months, and three days after graduation I started working at BMI Elite, a full-service digital advertising agency in Delray Beach, Florida. I was hired as a search marketing specialist, something I had never pictured doing and something I knew very little about. The day I was hired, I only knew the following about search marketing: it had something to do with getting your website on the first page of search engine results, and it was a very big business with lots of promise, if you knew what you were doing.
I immediately began reading everything I could find on search marketing. This wasn’t my dream job, but I told myself that I would give it a try for at least a few months. As long as I was learning something, it’s not wasted time. If I absolutely hated it, I could leave.
I show up to work every day ready to learn as much as possible, and that I have been doing. I went from knowing virtually nothing about SEO to being able to explain the basics quite easily. I’ve learned mostly from reading, writing blog articles about various topics and watching my boss, Darin Carter, do his thing (and asking him tons of questions). After about two months of being at BMI and doing mostly copywriter work, I shifted more into a role of being Darin’s assistant. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for over 13 years, and it’s incredible how much he knows, particularly about search marketing. I try to learn everything that I can from him.
In addition to learning about search marketing, I have also learned a great deal about how to handle and communicate with clients. When Darin is busy he doesn’t always get back to them right away and although he’s doing a great job for them, they get mad. I have realized that most clients want their hands held for every step of a project and I can understand why. Here they are, spending all this money for us to optimize their website or repair their online reputation, and they simply want to know what is happening and whether it is working. What they often do not understand is that SEO is not instant and results do not happen overnight. SEO is an art and a science, and beating thousands of other websites to the first page of search results takes time (now I sound like Darin).
I spend a lot of time trying to explain this to clients in the simplest way possible. The most frustrating part of my job is the fact that I’m still new to this, and I don’t always have the answers. They will come with time and experience. I try to learn as much as possible as fast as possible, but like SEO, it doesn’t happen overnight and all I can do is keep going. I am grateful for what I have already learned, as this is my favorite part of the job so far.