A few months ago something new happened at my startup, I got the first ever person to work for My Day To-Do i.e. I found a marketing intern. Interestingly enough as it turned out it would also be the first ever person that I would ‘let go’. However I had hired two marketing interns and while I had to let one go, the other one stayed and I was very happy with how he had performed. In this blogpost, I will share my story of what happened with the first intern as well as describe in detail about how I managed the other intern’s time.

Background to getting help

I have already talked about (here) how as of this year my startup  (My Day To-Do) is finally out of my apartment and into the Catapult co-working space at UNSW. Combine that with the limitation of me trying to do and manage every single aspect of my business, I thought why not get some help? Marketing is one of the weakest aspects of my business, I mean seriously, I am a man with  a background in Computer Science research i.e. both my degrees have a Computer Science research component leading to published research. Hence no matter how much I try to convince myself or anyone else, there’s NO WAY I can be very good at marketing. Therefore I embarked on my multi-stage journey on a quest to find a marketing intern.

Stage 1: Resume acquisition

The Catapult co-working space program is associated with the MCIC at UNSW as a result of which I found myself at a meetup involving both MCIC and Catapult startup people. At the meetup, I met a startup founder who mentioned that she had received a few applications for a marketing intern position at her startup of which she could only hire one and was happy to pass on the other resumes.

Stage 2: First Contact (with applicants)

I received  two resumes from the aforementioned fellow entrepreneur and I sent them both an email requesting a time to meet. I also included links to my previous blogposts on marketing (FB Marketing 1 & 2 and Bing Ads) to give them an idea of the sort of marketing that has happened at My Day To-Do up to this point.

Stage 3: The interviews

The one thing I realised during both these interviews was that, they were both quite young or more like I was getting old!

Interview One

Ok this was a girl (let’s just call her Jane Doe) and the one thing that was clear was that she had not read my blogposts on the marketing done, well at least not all of it. She acted as best as she could to indicate that she had read the blogposts, by pointing out a few things that would you know if you had read the first two lines and maybe the last paragraph or less of one of the blogposts. Plus the other thing was that I felt that she’s hiding some info or she’s not telling me the full story. Going against my better judgement and the needs of the company, I thought ‘ahh she’s a young girl, why not give her a chance? so she can get some experience’ even though her skills were not what the company needed.

Interview Two

This was a bloke (guy) and more importantly a Chinese bloke, the nationality really matters in the context of the marketing at My Day To-Do. One the skill requirements that I had asked for in the job ad was the knowledge of how to use Chinese Social Media. During the interview it was pretty clear that he had read all my blogposts on marketing. He said ‘yes all those many likes you got in your first Facebook page promotion campaign were suspicious  but you clear that up in your second post…’ yes the way he was talking it was clear that he had done some background study.

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Internship

I setup a meeting with both the interns to discuss their work timings and everything, this was around April, so I asked them both to start their internship after the Easter break.

 

At this meeting the first candidate, Jane Doe told me different things about her schedule and time  i.e. information that she choose to hide during the first interview. Anyway she said she would need a two weeks off when she’s preparing for her the end of semester exams but she would make up for that time during the semester break. I obviously had no problem with it.
The other thing about Jane Doe was that, every time I asked her as to how she was spending her free time, the reply I would get is studying or working or something. e.g. ‘What are you doing during Easter break?’ “I will just be studying for my end of semester exams”. Seriously? A young girl going to university overseas is always studying or working? I do not buy it.
In comparison when I would ask the Chinese bloke as to what he’s doing during the Easter break? His reply: “My friends and I are going on a road trip”. That’s actually a better answer, to me that makes perfect sense, but then again I thought everyone is different and Jane Doe may just be spending her time studying.

Stage 4: A New Dawn

….and the day came when the first intern started working at My Day To-Do and this was well and truly A New Dawn for My Day To-Do! It was the first time someone other than me was working for it. It was also a day when I was trying to finish this urgent update for the Lite version.

The first day was for Jane Doe and she came in and as soon as she came in she told me that once she finishes exams she’s got her tickets to travel overseas the same day (or next day). I asked her, ok why did you not share this before? to which she replied ‘I thought that this was a six week internship, so I thought I would do it, but I can work during my holidays from overseas’ I told her let me finish working on this update, it would only take an hour or two and then I will let  you know. I gave it some thought and I told her not to worry about doing the internship. I simply cannot have that, I mean her story changes each time and there’s no way I was buying into her ‘working’ during her holidays while overseas. She may either working during her holidays or not? The thought of her not working and me having to keep sending emails asking for the status of her work, meant that she could not stay.

The first day of the Chinese bloke was pretty good, like I mentioned before he’s honest blokes and one of those ‘what you see is what you get’ people, no unwanted unpredictability. Character aside, his knowledge of Chinese social media was just what My Day To-Do needed.

Stage 5: Time management

My priority was to make the best use of the intern’s time i.e. between the two of us, he’s an expert at Marketing. I have come across a lot of startups recently and I did not want to follow their approach to managing an intern’s time. Most of the startups gave their interns tasks that ranged very mundane, to time consuming, repetitive tasks that the founders did not want to do. Look I am sure those startup founders were justified in their decision to give their interns the tasks they did, however at this stage My Day To-Do is a very small startup and any individual choosing to contribute to it is highly appreciated. I mean, an intern is someone who’s not highly paid and in case of My Day To-Do, the intern’s knowledge of Chinese social media was extremely important for me. Hence I had no problems getting him coffee or for that matter doing some of the mundane tasks myself so he could just focus on his marketing.

Also one of the mistakes that I was really hoping to avoid was that of my former manager. At some point in life I was working with a manager who was one of the nicest people I have ever met but lacked some basic people (or management) skills. All I got from him was negative feedback, after the company had isolated me and put me on a new project, I obviously was not very good at that project when I first started (I had to learn 6 new technologies on a very large ‘non-linear’ project) but I did improve over time. However I only received negative feedback and eventually I quit, after which the manager told me ‘you improved quite a bit over time’!!!

I tried my best to avoid doing that with the intern i.e. when I would give him some negative feedback I was conclude the meeting by telling him about all the things that he did well.

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Summary

So how did I manage my intern’s time? well, I tried to keep the repetitive tasks away from him, I did most of them and I tried my best to leave him with all the important tasks. I assigned the following projects to him

  1. Improve the ASO – I wrote a blogpost to explain ASO to him
  2. Localise the app
  3. Find potential testers, give out promo codes for the app and get feedback
  4. Investigate how to create and manage Baidu Ad campaign for the app from Australia
  5. Provide an opinion or input on the new app features

Each of the above tasks had a set of points which were essentially pointers to get him started on the task. As much as I wanted My Day To-Do to benefit during his internship, it was important for me to make sure that he gains the maximum knowledge during his time with My Day To-Do, so he’s ready for what lies ahead of him in the job market after his internship.

Stage 6: End of an era (achievements)

So the last day of his internship came and I could tell that he was very happy to have been a part of My Day To-Do, I too was very happy with his performance! My Day To-Do made some significant progress during his internship i.e.

  1. Improvement in My Day To-Do ASO: Initial ASO for My Day To-Do was done by me using Google translate and just randomly thinking of words, but thanks to the intern, ASO for the app was significant improved
  2. A boost to the download numbers: I have spoken about this in one of my previous posts (namely Marketing to Chinese Consumers) but My Day To-Do experienced significant growth or an ‘organic growth’ in downloads. We have no idea what caused this
    1. Improved ASO?
    2. My blogging?
    3. Talking about My Day To-Do on Chinese social media?
    4. It could be a number of things, we just don’t know what?
  3. An insight into how users feel about using My Day To-Do (via a small Focus group)
  4. The first detailed negative feedback from a journalist (I see this as progress)
    1. One of this tasks was to contact journalists to review the app
  5. A better direction for the what the future holds for My Day To-Do, etc

Some problems were either solved or found temporary solutions but My Day To-Do has a newer set of problems to solve, with the main one being, FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR CHINESE USERS. Seriously I cannot stress this enough of how much of a priority it is for us to know our Chinese market. I mean a lot of people have downloaded My Day To-Do Lite and given our Analytics software Firebase is blocked in China, we do not know what is it that our users like about our app.

Ohh and one more thing…

My Day To-Do now has a page on Baike, you can check it out here. So what is it? well, Baike in Mandarin means Encyclopedia and given that Wikipedia is blocked in China, Baike – which is a part of their most used search engine: Baidu, is the Wikipedia replacement for Chinese people. For this, I did not know about it nor did I give the intern any instructions to do so, this was his own personal initiative. I could not be happier, I really appreciate him making the effort to do this.

Conclusion

…and we come to the end of this post so how do I feel about it all? Well, I am very happy with his internship and I am please with all the work that the intern did. I mean the intern who stayed on, as far as the other one, well there was no way I was going to tolerate such behaviour. She needs to realise that with or without her My Day To-Do as a startup would continue functioning. I rather do everything myself than having someone who I cannot trust. I realised that she was not worth the effort and hence she had no chance of staying on at My Day To-Do.

As far as the intern who did stay, well I did reward him by giving him very interesting work, making him a part of the entire process and getting him coffee 🙂

Going forward I am looking for some more interns or come work at My Day To-Do, one of the main skills we need right now is that of a design intern. My Day To-Do’s functional design could really use some design flair and polish.

As usual, if you find any of my posts useful support us by  buying or even trying one of our products and leave us a review on the app store.

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