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It begun in May, I was young, inexperienced, naïve. Today I leave a different person, like a wise owl, dissertation title in hand. If I think hard enough I can remember back to that first meeting….

Charlie "I'm taking my Attacat mug!"

I nervously walked into the Attacat office, the smell of soup in the air, it was lunchtime. I was greeted by three smiley young heads hiding behind their computer screens; I later got to know them as Chubby, Jo-lu and Jon. I shook hands with two gentlemen, Tim and Ben; I knew they were in charge. They led me to a small table, I got out my pencil case, and they were impressed. I completed a practical exercise and aptitude test all the while thinking how nice the soup smelt. Quickly after I was taken to the pub, sat down with a lemonade I was asked questions. Who was I, what I did, why I wanted this placement and most importantly, why I deserved it. I answered as best as I could, I talked… a lot, and then I was sent on my way. A week later I got a call, I’d got the placement. Today I leave with a completely new vocabulary, a new found appreciation for the internet and a comforting feeling that I did well, fit in. I’ve been asked to write a blog post on what I have learnt but the list is so long that I’m going to tell you my highlights…

My first couple of weeks were an insane overload of information – new names, new terms, new networks, basically a completely new language to learn. Before starting I knew that PPC stood for Pay Per Click and SEO stood for Search Engine Optimisation, but I couldn’t tell you what they were without confusing myself. I had a crash course in definitions and was promptly thrown into a pool of new social media. I became familiar with Twitter, learning to tweet along with the rest of the Attacats and gained some professional contacts on LinkedIn. I was then bought a website (yes – my own website) in which to document my rants, raves and confused thoughts – something I have enjoyed hugely and will be continuing on with. I was lucky enough to have started my placement alongside the Attacat team’s two newest members and was therefore able to jump into their training sessions where I was given a more paced explanation of what Attacat did. We started with keywords.

Now you can have a look at my keyword blog posts to see where the enjoyment came from in this lesson. The search volume for some specific word and word sequences is utterly hilarious. But seriously, it was fascinating to learn the importance of choosing the right keywords, whether they should be broad or exactly matched and what should be the negative keywords. It’s fundamentally the first step to optimising anything to do with marketing your business. It was incredible to learn the competition behind ‘bidding’ for these keywords and how keeping an open mind can be the difference between being at the top of the page and being on the tenth.

I used this knowledge to push myself into SEO. Jon spent a gruelling amount of time coaching me on every aspect of this, my high pitched questions in his ear every other minute. But I have to say, without him I wouldn’t understand the difference between organic, natural and paid listings – no matter how simple it might sound. As we continued the keyword research I learnt more and more about SEO, again surprised at the complexity of it, the size of competition and the amount of thought and sense that is involved when designing a website. I spent a lot of ‘Timmy Time’ asking questions, how and why are they at the top, who decides and why aren’t the others? I learnt that every business is different; that you have to be sneaky and clever at the same time. I have learnt what makes a good website and I definitely know what makes a bad one. I have laughed at websites, cocked my eyebrow and sniggered.

Then I got the chance to look at some AdWords campaigns – laughing again as I did. The office took pleasure in emailing me their favourites, good or bad. This lead to some Facebook advertising and campaigns and how good it was to have a position presence within social media, and visa versa. Then I was given some copyrighting to do – this is where I really felt a spark. Writing something and having it published on a legitimate company’s website was more exciting than it should have been. I enjoyed the research involved, the ability to choose tone and the creativity involved with creating your own content. The majority of the last month of my placement has been spent writing potential copy for client websites, spending my time getting to know the company, learning the way they speak and talk to their customers and knowing how to speak like them whilst including everything that needs to be said. I have never enjoyed proof-reading but after this experience I have learnt the importance of it and will be seeing it in a different light in my fourth year of university – 15,000 word dissertation and all that.

I couldn’t have asked for more, the Attacat team have adopted me like a pet. Ok not a pet, as a foster child and reared me, burped me and taught me their language.

Here are some things I won’t forget

  • Coffee break and the observation of Hannah loosing TWICE
  • Tim’s desperate attempts to cheat at coffee break because he can’t last until 11am without a cuppa
  • The several Macaroni and cheeses from Hectors – the last one being the best quite conveniently
  • Joel and Jon’s computer voice wars ‘Do you have an iphone 4?’
  • The can of fosters I got after work on my second day
  • Johan’s rants about our university lecturers and how I always agree
  • Ben’s super-mix of ‘No win, no fee – but what does it mean?’
  • Eating way too many jaffa cakes
  • Lamp sharing with David
  • Hannah’s one coffee/tea rule (and what happens when she’s naughty – hulk moment I tell you)

Most of all I’ve managed to learn a completely new discipline in under three months, found a voice in my blog and met some really clever people, I’ve even managed to see this small company grown two new legs.

Thank you again to the Wonderful Attacat team – Tim, Ben, Hannah, Jon, Joel, David and Johan.

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