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I’ve always believed that working for free is a great path to getting paid.
It was more of a hunch than a fact but it made perfect sense. In a tough economy, employers are hesitant to hire people without experience but if you can’t get a job how are you supposed to gain experience? Unfortunately this is the standard runaround that many people experience.
When I was recently contacted by a Media Cause volunteer to say that he wouldn’t be able to continue his internship, I was ecstatic. Of course, we will miss his assistance but hearing that we helped someone land a job is a much bigger reward.
Without further ado I’d like to introduce William Rypcinski to tell his story.
“Work for a Good Cause While Helping Yourself: How Media Cause Helped Me Land My Dream Job.”
By William Rypcinski, Intern at Media Cause
Let me start out by saying I am very pleased with the internship program at Media Cause. I’ll start by giving my background situation, how I found Media Cause, and then explain exactly how Media Cause helped me.
I’ve been a Finance Manager for about 10 years and lost my job last year (2011). It’s obviously a tough time to be unemployed. I think everyone is aware of that so there’s no need to go into detail about the economy, even though I love to talk about it, as I’m a recent MBA. Nonetheless, the loss of my job was both a curse and a blessing. You see, I hated my job. I loved the people and the good cause for which I worked, but it was the actual work, itself, is what I could not stand.
Part of the reason for earning my MBA was to change careers, but by spontaneously losing my job, my career search became accelerated my search, of course. Before my tenure as a Finance Manager, I worked in digital advertising, which I loved, but it was more than 10 years ago. Unfortunately for me, I had entered the field of digital advertising right before the peak of the Dotcom collapse. When I was laid off, I could not find work as an online media planner anywhere, so I was jolted to enter another career.
Let’s fast forward back to the current era – the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. I wanted to get back into interactive advertising, but I faced a huge barrier. I’ve been out of the game for over a decade and technology and best practices have dramatically changed. Google wasn’t even around when I was a planner! I’ve searched media planner-type jobs posted online and the vast majority required experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What the heck is SEO and how do I learn it? That’s basically where I started. I frantically applied to for positions I wanted but never got a response, most likely because I had no SEO experience. I was an unsuccessful “resume mill.”
This is where Media Cause came in. I responded to an SEO internship position that was posted on Craigslist. This position was unpaid, but the posting implied that it was willing to take on interns with little or no SEO experience. I applied with a polished resume and cover letter and heard back from Eric Facas, the President of Media Cause. I was a good fit for Media Cause and it seemed they would be a good fit for me. I realized that the experience would be valuable. In addition, I would be working for a good cause. I think the perfect intern candidate for Media Cause is anyone who is genuinely interested in SEO and willing to make the commitment.
After completion of the curriculum, the intern is permitted to start taking on challenges, by helping a non-profits. I chose to help http://www.hephzibahhome.org with their SEO problem. With what I have learned in the reading/homework portion of the internship I wrote up a draft of recommendations for Hephzibah Home, a non-profit children’s association in Oak Park, IL. I really spent a long time on it and took the project very seriously.
With the help of Luis Alejos, Community Manager for Media Cause, I was able to find a great mentor. That’s another benefit of Media Cause – their arsenal of experienced mentors around the world. I don’t know if I was lucky to get such a great mentor, or if it is simply the high standards of Media Cause, but I must give a profusion of credit to my mentor, Woj K. from Kwasi Studios in Australia. He helped me a lot with design/code necessary for a good SEO optimization. I don’t have a design background, so Woj’s recommendations and coaching helped me tremendously. He spent a lot of time with me with my project and he was always quick with email communication, as is the staff at Media Cause. The challenges at Media Cause are flexible (in time; due dates) for both the intern and the mentor, as all the work is done remotely. With that said, I was applying for jobs while I worked on this SEO challenge. About halfway though that challenge, I started to land several interviews, due to my ability to now speak SEO. My most notable interview was at a company called Skype. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? I didn’t get that job, but I think this example demonstrates how powerful the Media Cause internship is. I knew nothing of SEO a few months earlier, but I landed an interview for an SEO-heavy job at Skype.
By the end of my first challenge, I felt proud of the good work I did for Hephzibah Home, again a great cause in social welfare. I was also lucky to have a great client there, so I threw in some extra marketing/social media recommendations from what I’ve learned in business school. It was out of scope to do those tasks, but I felt committed to help the Home in any way I could. Jennifer S. from Hephzibah Home actually gave me a great recommendation when I eventually found that company that was a perfect fit for me. My new job has elements of SEO & social media and I didn’t have anyone else who could speak on behalf of my experience in those specific areas. Thanks to Jennifer’s recommendation and the Media Cause experience, I will now be working for EXL Media in the Lake Tahoe area, doing marketing analytics work as well as media buying and other tasks. Not only is the job a great fit for me, but also it’s in Lake Tahoe! I’m an avid snowboarder, so with that said, this combination of job scope and location makes it a dream job for me. I’m still in San Francisco as I write this blog, but I can’t wait to move to Lake Tahoe and begin my new career.
Thank you, Media Cause and an extra “super thanks” to Eric, Luis, Woj, and Jennifer.