Starting out as a Saltire Scholar

When starting my virtual Social Media Marketing internship with the Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, at first I didn’t feel like I was starting a new job. I was in my house, at my laptop, at my desk, excited to get started but also nervous about the undertaking of starting a brand-new job and communicating with new people virtually. Luckily, as part of the onboarding process, I had met with other scholars working virtually with companies in the US and had connected with a few who had already started a week earlier than me. Talking to them about their experience was helpful in preparing for my start date. I also had a call with my colleagues a week before my internship started, to get some accounts set up and I was given a few tasks to get on with on Monday morning. This helped calm my fears of remote working with a time difference, as I knew they would be there to help when they logged on in the afternoon and were only ever a phone call away.

I am interning to help the Society’s team to identify, conceptualize, design and execute campaigns to boost engagement on our social media platforms. From day one I was treated like part of the team: writing a blog post, creating graphics for social media, and being given access to scheduling software.

At first, I went a bit crazy with graphics I had to make. I had so many ideas that I produced a lot of content in a short amount of time, and not all of it was useful for the team. From their guidance, I took more time on the content I was producing, and made it fit more with the organisation’s already-established online presence. Learning to be creative within established boundaries of what the Society needs from its content has been exciting and a new challenge for me.

Since so much of social media marketing is creative, the Society have really given me space to come up with new ideas and bring new content to the table and have given great advice on how to improve it.

One of the best pieces of advice was given to me in week one by one of my colleagues: to take fifteen minutes out of my day as ‘creativity time’ to come up with new ideas and to see where my imagination takes me. This has really helped to structure my day, as I am no longer launching into projects without a clear idea of what I want to produce. Having those fifteen minutes dedicated to coming up with new ideas has helped me produce better content, and I will be implementing it for the rest of my internship.

I have also been getting to grips with new tools from the Adobe Creative Suite and working with logos and ‘branding’ of the Society in the graphics I’m creating. I feel like I’m learning new things every day and am enjoying working on longer-term projects, producing content that the Society can use even after my internship finishes.

Remote working has been made a lot easier through online sharing tools, and the team are very communicative with feedback on my work, which makes me feel like a valued team member. For the rest of the Summer, I will be contributing to the Society’s fundraising campaigns, and coming up with new ways to get Society members engaged on social media with Society news and events. We have just started a ‘Presidents Profiles’ series, celebrating the history of the Society in the lead up to their 265th anniversary. I’m really proud of these graphics and am excited to work on other related content.

Despite my initial trepidations, by week two, the time difference between Glasgow and New York seemed as much of an advantage as a challenge. At Teams meetings, I can be found with a mug of tea when it’s morning coffee time in New York! Working in the morning before the rest of the team logs on allows me the flexibility to schedule content for the day before it goes out on our channels, and to get on with tasks set for me the previous day. Despite not being in New York, I still feel that I am getting to know the Society and really getting to grips with my internship.

I applied for the Saltire Scholar programme to get some work experience in the field of communications, and to push myself to rise to new challenges in a new setting. For me, the application process was a long one, having only secured my internship on the last list, and being one of the last Scholars to be offered an internship. I can say after my first two weeks of being a Saltire Scholar, the process was definitely worth it. I would encourage any future scholars going through the recruitment process to keep trying and applying, because it took me six rounds of applications to land the perfect role for me! I am so glad I was patient with the process and continued to put time and effort into my applications.

Working with the Society and getting hands-on experience in a field I’m excited about working in has been invaluable, and I can’t thank the Society and Entrepreneurial Scotland enough for this opportunity. I’ll be sure to continue to make the most of it!

Written by: Antonia Cahill, University of St Andrews, Social Media Intern, Saint Andrews Society of New York (virtual)
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