For the first few weeks of my internship with Cox Media Group’s digital strategy team, I did something I thought I would never do on the job. I kept thinking back to my IT class from first semester, a class I assumed would be a good introduction to the topic but not all that applicable to my future career plans—something around digital strategy, digital marketing, content strategy, and product management. Along with the team’s other intern (an MIS master’s student from Arizona), I worked on the first project, which was to evaluate data management platform vendors (and similar software) in light of CMG’s business needs.
From there, the internship projects focused on combining a mixture of analytics data, qualitative research, and observations to produce reports around specific business areas for the team. It was good to work with analytical data in these real business situations and to be able to provide focused analysis, especially since one area several of my classmates and I have discussed that our program is lacking in is business analytics. I took the program’s market research class in preparation for an internship—not this specific one—and it was still a help. There is room for Georgia Tech to offer more in this area, and thus the internship was big for me.
Online radio streaming and political advertising were two primary areas we studied. That means that after digging through company radio streaming data (insight: the Japanese really enjoy Hawaiian music), I spent a few days experiencing online radio. Yes, that means listening to CMG stations around the country and to radio competitors Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and more. Also, in addition to doing good, interesting work, the workplace was a great environment: fun, casual, and there was popcorn every afternoon.
Another huge benefit of the internship was the chance to shadow different parts of the operation—mobile, permission marketing, business development, communications, content, and ad production. From my past experience, including working for a CMG news property, I knew one side of the digital media business; now I know much, much more about the rapidly developing digital business.
The other big discovery for me that came from the summer was working my first 8:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. full-time job. As a journalist, I had never worked those hours: I would get to work late—11 a.m. or noon at the earliest—and stay even later. There were many nights I worked past midnight. Getting to the train station by 8:15 a.m. (and even commuting via Marta in Atlanta) took some getting used to, not to mention a lot of coffee. It’s an adjustment I know I will have to make post-MBA and one of the reasons I came back to school. As strange as it might sound, this was good practice.
I am now well-versed in waking up early, and there will certainly be more benefits to come from the internship. The experience combining quantitative and qualitative information into actionable business recommendations, along with my class work, gives me a great foundation for transitioning from journalist to digital marketer or digital strategist and/or content strategist.
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