The SocialMadeSimple Show- Episode: 3 with Connor Hickey
Connor Hickey, a student at Elon University, joined SocialMadeSimple as a Marketing Intern for the summer of 2020. In this interview, he sits down with Business Development Associate, Ryan Chiasson, to discuss his experience with SocialMadeSimple.
“I can talk face to face with the CEO of the company as an intern, and he wants to listen to what I have to say.“
Ryan: Welcome back to the third episode of The SocialMadeSimple Show! For this episode, we decided to do something a little different: we have one of the interns from this summer that was at SocialMadeSimple, Connor Hickey. Connor, thanks for joining us today.
Connor: Hey Ryan, thanks for having me!
Transition: The SocialMadeSimple Show
Ryan: The way that we’ve kicked off every show, it’s always great to kind of get a little bit more background information on you and just how you started working at SocialMadeSimple.
Connor: Yeah totally! Maybe not as much background needed for me as the people with longer careers who have been on the podcast, like David and Corey, but I go to school right now. I’m entering my Junior year at Elon University, down in North Carolina. Down there, I’m studying finance with a leadership minor. When I got started at SocialMadeSimple, I actually knew David’s son, Dan, who works at the company now in business development. I used to live down the street from him and we used to play ball all the time- he’s a little bit older than me. So I had that connection there and, you know, not a lot of opportunities kind of arose this summer, with COVID and whatnot happening. I reached out to David and he was kind enough to give me the opportunity, so I’ve been working at SocialMadeSimple all summer and it’s been awesome.
Ryan: Yeah, the current work environment is, you know, crazy, just in a word. You were the first person that we actually took on remotely- the first new hire that went remotely- so tell us a little bit more just about how you became acclimated to the company.
Connor: Yeah for sure. So it is definitely interesting, you know, working from home and I get to meet everybody but it’s not quite the same meeting everybody over a Zoom call versus what it would be in person. You know, the process actually went super smoothly! It took me a couple of days to kind of get used to the different programs and apps, and whatnot, that the company uses; but once I got settled in, everything was pretty smooth sailing from there. I think you’re absolutely right, it is very different, you know, being onboarded from afar versus actually being there in the company, but you guys did a great job.
Ryan: Yeah, I promise I’m way cooler in person than I am over Zoom.
Transition: Life of an Intern at SocialMadeSimple
Connor: So I think my official role when I first came into the internship was under our marketing director, Taylor Sack. So he deals with, you know, a lot of different stuff: He goes into a lot of the ‘Facebook ads’ side of what we do, but he also produces content for the company; and a lot of it. That’s actually really important because, you know, obviously, we do tons of content for our clients, for other companies, but in order to get those clients we actually have to do a lot of our own marketing as well; which is something that sometimes people might overlook. So he has a lot on his plate and he has a lot of stuff that he has to get done. So I was initially kind of brought on board to help and help limit his workload a little bit so maybe he could focus on some of his own goals in the marketing space.
From there, it kind of branched out and I ended up doing, you know, a little bit of everything. So I worked with you and Dan, here-and-there, in sales stuff, writing emails and whatnot. I worked with some of the people of the content team throughout. Then also working hand-in-hand with David and Corey on projects was super cool because that’s not something you get often in an internship role. You know, getting to work with people who literally run the company. This is something that I actually wrote about in one of my blogs: oftentimes, when you think about an internship, the stigma behind it is that you’re gonna be doing a lot of tedious work and a lot of monotonous stuff that nobody else really wants to do or has time for, like sheets and little tasks like that.
You know, I can’t say that that’s not what I was expecting, but I came in and that’s not what it was at all. I really got to branch out into the work that not only was different than just the monotonous stuff but work that I also wanted to do; which was super cool. And that’s something that I was told like the first week that I joined the company as well which was, “You tell us- how are you going to add the most value to the company? Because that’s not only how you’re gonna bring,”- sorry- “How are you going to get the most value out of your experience here? Because not only is that going to be most beneficial for the long run and your business experience, but it’s also what’s going to help the company the most”, is what David, our CEO, told me. I think he’s absolutely right by that, you know. By kind of giving me the freedom to do stuff that I found interesting and helpful, really motivated me to work hard on the stuff that I was doing, and to add actual value. I thought that was super cool and really important for my experience this summer.
Ryan: Yeah absolutely! One thing that everyone understands at Social (SocialMadeSimple) is just that when it comes down to it, they want you to love what you do. Because they understand that when you like going into work every day, that you’re gonna do great work; and you’re going to work hard. I would say that’s through-and-through for everybody on our team.
Transition: Writing & Publishing Blogs
Connor: So the blogs kind of fall into that category of content that we produce, where part of it is marketing material you know it’s cool if you know we can include blogs informational stuff in emails that we send out; stuff like that. It’s also just kind of informational too. Writing blogs are cool processes for me because, in order to actually write a good blog, you have to have an understanding of what you’re writing about. You can’t just read one article and become an expert where you can write your own blog. You kind of have to pull from different sources and get different points of view on things and so that process is actually really cool for me. Not only was I producing something that was, you know, tangible and usable and that I can point to say, ‘that’s cool, I made that,” but you actually get to learn a lot about what you’re writing about, and a lot of is really useful stuff when it comes to the world of digital marketing. So that was really a cool learning experience for me.
Transition: First Impressions of SocialMadeSimple
Ryan: What was your first impression in your first week kind of coming in and working with everybody? I know that you touched upon you know, ‘yeah they say that I’m gonna be able to do the work that I want to do but probably monotonous’, but what was your actual first impression?
Connor: Yeah I mean the overall dynamic of the company and the company culture when I first got here, it’s very laid back. You know, it doesn’t have a corporate feel at all, despite how professional the work that actually gets done is, which is actually really cool and a unique culture for a workplace. Obviously, like I said, it’s different being on a Zoom call as I’m sure that the company culture and that bonding is even stronger when everybody’s working together in a workplace. I could tell right away that everybody’s collaborating on stuff, everybody’s getting along, and it really shows. You really can tell there’s a lot of crossover between what people do in the company, from what I’ve noticed. It’s not like you have a specific role and you’re just like a cog and that’s all you do, is that role; there’s a ton of overlap. It’s super cool because that leads to knowing you have to communicate. Not only do people have to communicate and that leads to, you know, development, collaboration, and whatnot, but people seem like they enjoy doing it too. And it’s awesome to kind of see the output when you get multiple voices in on different projects and I think it’s a really cool environment to be in.
Transition: Adding Value in Daily Meetings
Ryan: And you know just from being in our sales and marketing meetings every morning, which I definitely want to get to as well, did you feel a lot of pressure going into those? Just to preface for everybody else we have sales and marketing meetings every morning, it’s: myself, Dan Black, who is one of our other business development guys, Ana, who is one of our other interns, and then typically David our CEO, and sometimes Corey, our COO. Did you feel a lot of pressure going into that and kind of just reporting your day to day to the CEO?
Connor: I mean at first, yeah yeah honestly; but it’s also for the best too. It’s almost good that you’re gonna be reporting to the CEO of the company every day, and super cool because you get used to it and it makes your work feel more meaningful- more important, especially as an intern. When the CEO of the company asks you every Monday morning meeting, you know, “What are your goals for the week, and what processes do you think that we can all do better in and that we can improve upon?”. At first, when he asked stuff like that, I kind of figured it was an exercise to get employees thinking about ways that they can personally be more productive. After a couple of weeks, I realized that he’s actually taking notes about everything that we say. Taking detailed notes about literally everything we say and all the ideas that we share, and even the interns. What we say and what we share with him actually matters in the sense that he’s listening and cares about what you have to say, whether you’re new at the company or whether you’ve been here for 20 years. He cares about what you have to say and it’s really important for fostering a productive work environment and that company culture like I was saying. So that was a really cool experience to just be able to not only share my day-to-day, but be able to give feedback about what I thought, and actually have it taken and understood.
Transition: Working with Our Marketing Manager: Taylor Sack
Ryan: One of the people that I forgot to mention it’s also in those meetings is Taylor. You and I both know that without Taylor, a lot of our systems would not go and Dan and I would not be able to reach out to as many new customer accounts as we typically do. So I know you touched on it, but how was it working with Taylor?
Connor: Yeah I mean Taylor is awesome and I don’t think people quite understand how much he really does and how much he has on his plate for the day-to-day. He does a lot and what he does is super important, so to be able to kind of free up his time a little bit and help out with some of his projects was awesome; and he was super easy to work with. He would check up on me, but it was never “this needs to be done by then”, he gave me the liberty of doing the work that I thought was beneficial for me and for the company, on my own time. Like I said before, being given that sort of liberty to do those projects and work on it at my own pace fosters production, and I thought that it made me work even harder for him than maybe I would have for a different marketing manager elsewhere. So we’ve really gotten close over the past few months and people should really appreciate the work that he puts in.
Ryan: Yeah absolutely- I know I do sure. He’s definitely one of the people in the company that I look at and it’s like- I wouldn’t say a competition but- I would say it’s like a healthy admiration. Just like, ‘Wow that guy has a lot on his plate… I should be able to get through everything else I have on mine’.
Transition: Lightning Round
Ryan: To go on a different route from our other interviews, we wanted to introduce the lightning round questions! And some of these are even your ideas so I’m very curious to hear some of your answers. I don’t know if I’ll time you, but I’ll definitely cut you off if I feel like it’s an elongated answer. To go off of 3:
- If you were to choose between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear winning a fight, who do you think would win?
Connor: I think undoubtedly you have to go with the grizzly bear. It’s bigger, faster, stronger, it’s got knives on its hands, it has 4 hands instead of 2, I think I’d take the grizzly bear 10 times out of 10 on that one.
Ryan: I’d have to give some thought into that one but I’ll take your word for it you seem like you really thought about it.
- What do you feel like is one of the best pieces of advice that you’ve gotten while working at SocialMadeSimple?
Connor: I think during the first week, Taylor told me to just be confident with not only the feedback that you’re giving, but also with the work that you’re doing and the input that you have on meetings and conversations. You know, obviously, it takes a little bit to kind of gain that confidence to be able to say what I think and my feedback on stuff; but once I started giving feedback on things, I thought it was really good because I was able to give genuine feedback and have conversations with Taylor about things that we are working on, I would bounce ideas off of him, he would bounce ideas off of me, and it really just created a great dynamic where we both kind of worked on things together, and get each other’s feedback. So I would say, be confident with what you’re saying, especially when it comes to feedback.
Ryan: Yeah- absolutely.
- How do you hope to apply the knowledge that you’ve learned here going forward?
Connor: Yes that’s another tough one. I would say that what you guys do at SocialMadeSimple obviously is tailored specifically and the systems are designed towards social media marketing but it doesn’t only apply to the social marketing world. Having a good appearance on social media and being able to understand how Google ads and Facebook ads and how these different programs work, even on a general basis, is super important because it applies to every company. So especially if I continue in this space, but even if I don’t, this is all great stuff to know how to do on a technical level.
In addition to that, I know I’ve said it a couple of times in this interview, but company culture. Just being able to have an open discussion with whoever you’re talking to. You know, I can talk face to face with the CEO of the company as an intern, and he wants to listen to what I say and I think that’s an awesome dynamic that more companies should kind of implement. You know if I’m ever somewhere in the future where I had a similar dynamic, you know, it is just an awesome experience to get and I hope that I’ll end up someplace that has a company culture as awesome as SMS (SocialMadeSimple) does.
Ryan: Awesome! Well thank you again for joining us today- I think that’s all the time we have. For all the folks at home, feel free to check us out and socialmadesimple.com and you can check out the resource center and some of the blogs that Connor has written this summer on various topics.
If you have any questions you can always schedule a call with the business development team, like myself, but until then, we will see you next time!