ICT Views

My Work Experience: An Autopsy of the Office

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Prior to my work experience, I had little knowledge of what a marketing team actually does. One would presume they all sit in a dark room, constantly clicking send on monosyllabic emails, regurgitating the same nonsensical rubbish – ‘we are the company for you!’ One would presume wrong.

Work Experience

Throughout my work experience here at International Compliance Training I have come to learn that the role of the marketing team transgresses far beyond simply pestering clients with emails, until they submit and buy something. Rather than simply a department within the company, I have come to realise that the marketing team really is a vital cog in the overall operations of International Compliance Training. The team are responsible for generating interest and then, most importantly, turning that interest into sales. In this regard, the marketing profession seems one of extremely fine margins: push a client too little and you lose their interest to a competitor but push one too much and they simply become tired of you. The margin for error is so small.(Looking back on this, it appears I’m attempting to replicate Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday. To clarify – I had no intention of trying to apply Al Pacino to marketing!) To find that middle ground, where a real emotional connection can be built with the client, often without actually meeting them face-to-face, is a true skill: a true skill I certainly feel the team at International Compliance Training possess.

Fly on the wall

Being able to sit in on several meetings during my time here was a genuinely fascinating experience. Sat like a fly on the wall as the team discussed their strategies to advance sales, it served as an invaluable opportunity, to not only see what it was the team planned to do but to actually watch as they contemplated together why they would do this. I must admit, the majority of terms flew straight over my head, but I did slowly begin to pick up some of the business jargon thrown around the office and meeting rooms like street slang.

The meetings certainly demonstrated to me the importance of team work and discussion when facing challenges and objectives. I watched many times where an issue or aim would be presented and then the team would proceed to bounce ideas off each other, until a suitable conclusion was reached. Reaching a decision always seems to be filtered through a collective of different minds and perspectives and I feel this is very important. Few ideas seem to come through one omnipotent figure, whom everyone begrudgingly kowtows before – rather, everyone works to mould an idea together. There were many times in the office when silence would ensue and everyone would be enraptured with their screens, focused on their own work and tasks, working independently yet simultaneously fixated on one collective goal. Much like the cells of a body, each employee holds independent instructions, but each works together, as one collective force, toward one common goal. Perhaps everyone in the office just gets sick of each other after a bit but I think you’ll agree the cells thing sounds a lot cooler.

It has actually surprised me how seamlessly the office and respective teams work. It would appear to an outsider that each employee has some sort of sub-human telepathic power, as they all seem to just get on with their individual tasks. At the advent of my week, I was hastily assured that this was a very ‘relaxed’ office compared to others. While I would concur in many respects, particularly in regards to the amount of food everyone eats, it really struck me how effective everyone was able to work. Perhaps it is fair to say that by enforcing a more relaxed environment, where people all know and are comfortable around each other, the ability to focus on work is actually increased, by reducing any potential internal tensions and cognitive stressors. I mean, it could just be the fact that they’re allowed to eat while they work, but, as before, I think I prefer my hypothesis!    

Marketing myths

Contrary to popular belief, marketing is not just about who’s the biggest logophile in the office and neither is it consumed by words. In fact, figures play a massive part in what the marketing team do. Statistics and analytics are imperative, as they are the key indicators of what the words have achieved. Without these statistics, there would be no way to know the true effect of the words. I found it particularly interesting to see just how precisely marketing campaigns, such as emails, can be analysed to interpret their results. Through looking at how people reacted to marketing, such as how many people clicked the link of a particular email, the team can adapt and progress their methods. In many ways, the numbers seem to say what the words can’t.

Neither is marketing just about obtusely creative people, who come up with pretentiously ‘out there’ ideas, which the rest of the office intend to meet only with rolled eyes. While perhaps not possessing some of these more harsh stereotypes, I certainly had little idea of the true scope of what marketing really means prior to this week. In fact, I’m not sure if I could sincerely tell you now, because, in truth, marketing stretches across such a range of fields that it could be seen as so much. I would now list some of the responsibilities of the marketing department, but I am growing increasingly wary of this growing word count, hence I must be more conservative. The marketing team are solely responsible for giving the company any ounce of a personality and thus are making the company somewhat relatable to customers.

The Office

Yes, that was an attempted pun in relation to the BBC sitcom! Working in such an office has, in itself, been a new and interesting experience. Within the first few hours, the capricious nature of the office became very evident, with one minute the office being full of conversation and debate about various issues, for it to be only a few minutes later dead silent, aside from the continuous echoes of rattling keyboards.

One question I certainly found myself asking over the course of this week was ‘are these people all addicts?’ No, not like that. Over the course of the week I’m sure I witnessed more consumption of tea and coffee than ever before in my life. It seemed that every ten minutes, people would be looking for their next hit of caffeine or green tea (for those slightly more cultured than the rest.) As a member of the small sect in society whom find disdain in the taste of all hot drinks (weird, I know), I began to ponder deep philosophical questions of existentialism and existence, such questions as: should I be drinking a hot drink too? Perhaps there’s something in there making these people herculean office gods. Luckily I was not converted, not yet anyway…

It was refreshing to see that everyone here is so enthusiastic about what they do. Often, particularly in literature and films, the office space is portrayed as one of pure drudgery and futile toil: yet the office here genuinely seems to radiate a sense of enthusiasm and passion for what everyone is doing. The company as a whole seems to primarily promote a family-like feel, ensuring that this is not just a working group, but a community. Having built their premise upon this, you can definitely see that the staff enjoy what they are doing and have really brought into the company as a whole.  

Concluding and thanking (the serious bit)

Everyone within the office was extremely welcoming and made me feel very much a part of the team. During my work experience, rather than simply be pushed into a corner, I was very much in the thick of everything that was going on. Many members of the team helped me, introducing me to different areas of marketing, and showing me how to use the software involved. Again, I certainly feel that this demonstrates the nature of the working community here itself – that people were willing to give their time to help a temp.

Rather than put on glum faces and come to work to simply clock on and off, employees here seem to enter their workplace with a positive aura at all times – yes there will be challenges and hurdles, which I’m sure many will have hit, but people seem to see this as part of their working challenge and duly embrace it. This is one of the main things that I will take, in a more general sense, from this week: the attitude of the employees here. They enter their workplace ready to work hard, with a smile on their faces and that is extremely encouraging to see, especially for someone who believed all nine-to-five workers hated their jobs!

It goes without saying that I am extremely grateful for everyone in the office and at International Compliance Training for accommodating and welcoming me for my work experience week. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself over the last week and have gained an insightful, eye opening and invaluable experience, which I am sure will stay with and benefit me later in my working life. 


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