The year was the dreaded 2020. It was a hot May afternoon, as my dad and I sipped some cold mango juice while watching TV. “COVID-19 lockdown Day 57. The death toll is rising. Who’s to blame?” shouts a TV reporter. Sigh!
I headed to my room and switched on my laptop to check my college’s notice board for exam dates. “No updates,” read the page.
“It’s high time. I can’t just sit around, waiting to graduate. I have a lot of time to kill. I might as well head to Linkedin and do a quick internship search,” I told myself. I went on to LinkedIn and looked for social media internships. I came across some ten odd openings, and applied to all (desperate times call for desperate measures.)
Two days passed by, and I received a call from the HR specialist at Pepper Content. A few minutes into the call, she set up an interview with Rishabh Shekhar, the co-founder.
The interview rounds (the first with Rishabh and the second with both co-founders Rishabh and Anirudh) went rather smoothly. I thought I was passionate about content creation, but after meeting them, I realized I needed more; that I had a long way to go. To build a unique and successful business out of content was admirable. So, Pepper felt like a great fit for me.
I was hired, and I started on June 1, 2020.
In addition to my professional experience, what worked for me was all the free time during the lockdown. I was consistently creating original memes and humorous content on my own Instagram and Twitter profiles, which Anirudh and Rishabh noticed and appreciated. Also, I was primarily a copywriter, followed by a social media enthusiast, which worked in my favor all the more.
For any creator/social media person reading this: a personal brand on social media, no matter how small, helps you get a foot in the door. It reflects your creativity and passion for social media. Simply being good at social media will never help. Try and hone your copywriting, strategy, and design skills as well.
A Unique Experience
My day-to-day tasks as an intern involved creating and sharing content on Pepper’s social media channels: Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. Figuring out the target audience, understanding the co-founders’ vision, and building a community of freelancers from the ground up was a great experience.
Earlier, I had been a social media intern at a large-sized global company, but my tasks largely remained the same from day one till the final hour. And all the plans and campaigns required multiple levels of approval, which only slowed things down (this is something you don’t want in a fast-paced industry).
At Pepper, I learned that social media is so much more than just creating and sharing posts. It’s about sharing quality, value-add content and building a community. It’s about doing things in a way that gives people a reason to look forward to your posts.
Here’s why this internship was different.
1. Trust: I was given the responsibility to handle all the platforms, and look after content creation and distribution, right from day one.
2. Challenge: We built a large audience on all platforms from scratch.
3. Creative freedom: I was allowed to showcase my best creative self, experiment, as well as succeed and fail. Unlike in other organizations, I was allowed to own what I did.
4. Mentorship: Rishabh and Anirudh may have been 20-year-olds, but talking to them daily felt like they were in it to win it. They used to have daily calls to map out goals, help me understand their vision, and guide me to becoming better.
At the end of my second month with Pepper, I received a call from Anirudh. He said, “We all love your work. Would you like to work with us full-time?” It was my first ever full-time job offer (as a Social Media Associate). I was elated. I immediately felt more responsible.
Here’s what helped me convert my internship into a full-time job:
1. Responsibility and accountability
Gone are the days when interns were only supposed to shadow their managers, do just what was told, and refrain from sharing opinions. My internship at Pepper taught me how to take ownership of my tasks and complete them on time. This does not mean interns have to jump the gun. But easing your manager’s workload by going the extra mile is always a plus. In case you get stuck somewhere, there’s no harm in asking for help.
2. A solid work ethic
In my two months as an intern, I attended each and every meeting I was invited to, asked for feedback every week, was always professional with my colleagues, and never failed to meet deadlines. (If I struggled with a task or required more time, I simply asked for it, and Rishabh was always kind enough to allow it.)
3. Consistency at all times
I delivered creative ideas consistently, which made me a great asset to the social media team. But how did I manage that?
- Keeping a check on what the best brands/competitors were doing on social media, and taking inspiration from it
- Following relevant Reddit channels and Twitter accounts
- Thinking from the audience’s perspective, i.e., trying to solve a problem and creating relatable content around it
No freelancer likes too many changes
No freelancer likes delayed payments
No freelancer likes vague briefs.
No freelancer likes paying taxes.
I have churned out 100s of content pieces around just these four problem statements. I was able to do this, because Pepper is already solving such problems for our creators through high-tech solutions.
I may have become a manager now, but deep down, I am still that intern who revisits a Reel every few minutes to check new views and comments, who rewrites a caption multiple times because “it doesn’t click,” and who is overjoyed whenever someone leaves a positive comment under a post.
So, What Has Changed?
A lot, actually. We are now a bigger team with bigger goals. Now when we look at a campaign, our goal goes beyond social media marketing: there’s content marketing, growth marketing, community marketing, email marketing, and performance marketing too. And they are all linked. I won’t bore you with the specifics; if you’re really keen, you’ll learn it along the way.
However, what remains constant through it all is that our social media is still a work in progress and that there are exciting challenges to overcome and genuine problems to solve. And that’s what makes Pepper Content special and dynamic. When I applied for that internship two years ago, I didn’t know I would come this far in such a short time. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Each day at Pepper is fueled with exciting challenges and growth. If you believe in the power of content as much as we do, we’d love to hear from you. Click here.
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