Skills to Prove and Projects to Make

I’m about to wrap up on the first month of Praxis. I can’t believe how fast the past four weeks have gone by. So much has happened and changed in such a short amount of time. I have been introduced to incredible people and resources. I’ve been challenged creatively by:
Learning how to build a website.
Creating weekly videos to document my progress.
Reading articles about career planning and building.

And in this last week, I’ve decided the role I’m going to shoot for and run after for the next year (and perhaps longer).
That role is marketing.

There were four different roles I could have chosen from. This past week, I read role type descriptions, watched videos about each role and startups, and by the end of this week, my head was spinning a little. There were so many pros and cons to each individual role. I decided to break down each role mentally and decide why or why not I wanted to go with each. Here was my analysis:

The role types:
Technical: working with tech in roles like programming, data analysis, and IT helpdesk/service.
As soon as I read that description, I knew I would hate it. I would never work well in roles like that. All of those things sound exactly like what would make me hate my life.
Computers and I have a complicated relationship best described as “I will deal with you because I have to, not because I want to, and you better do what I want.”
Not the best relationship. I certainly don’t want to sit down and deal with our problems and work them out. I’d much rather leave the inner workings of a computer on the back burner, well out of reach, for those who enjoy that sort of thing. I’m tech savvy enough to get by without trying to figure out why programs work the way they do.
So on the bright side: I was able to narrow down to three types pretty quickly.

Operations: analyze, understand, build, measure, optimize, and improve the systems on which all parts of the business run.

This actually sounded pretty interesting at first. I’m good at organizing, figuring out how to solve problems and create systems to make sure everything runs efficiently. What that looks like in actuality could be roles like payroll processing, planning company events, or bookkeeping.

On the one hand, I felt like I could be good at that. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that kind of work. However, I decided against it because:
It would be playing to my strengths to the point that I’d worry about not learning new skills. I’m sure I would learn in an operations role. But the fact of the matter is I wanted a role that I’m not fantastic in but could be able to learn, grow and change from. Operations would be good, but I don’t think I would be content or happy in it, despite being good at it. I want a challenge, and operations wouldn’t be challenging enough for my liking.

Sales and Marketing: I was torn between these two roles for a bit. Both sounded appealing. I knew that interacting with customers in the way that sales and marketing do would be how I’d like to be in a company. But I was torn on what aspect. Sales is more about the relationship you have with the customer, informing them and keeping them as customers. Marketing is more about how to grab those customers’ attention in the first place to get them to your company.

I decided on marketing, honestly because the descriptions of what I would be doing was more appealing. I knew sales and marketing would both be challenging but fulfilling roles, and that I would gain skills I could take anywhere else I go. Marketing grabbed my attention because I feel it would play more to my personality and strengths, and naturally improve on my weaknesses better than sales would.
Now that I have decided on my role, my next step in my Praxis journey is to complete a project to enhance my portfolio.
I want to showcase to companies a few of my skills through this project. Here are just a few I want to show:

Analytical Thinking: I can read statistics and not get bored. I want to understand why something is successful, or why it isn’t. The analytical side of marketing doesn’t faze me and in fact is one of the things that excites me about the role. I will have the ability to take my analytical, logical thinking style to the next level and improve it on a regular basis.

Attention to Detail: there is a lot of tinkering involved in marketing. Lots of small things have to be changed to enhance the overall product. This is something I am good at. I have a natural ability to fix problems. I can see the little issues, and think of ways to fix them. I want to use my project this month to showcase that.

Quick Learner: With this project, I want to showcase how I can learn quickly. I will be working as an apprentice at a startup in just half a year, so this is a skill I will need. I want to learn what I can about marketing through this project so I can hit the ground running at a startup five months from now.

Compelling Communication: I know how to communicate well with others. I know how to show an idea, explain it well, and complete it. I will show this in my project by constantly updating on my blog all of the tangible things I’ve been accomplishing with the project all through next month.

With these four goals in mind, I set out to figure out a project. Praxis laid out some basic ideas, and I picked the five I like the best. I will be doing one of these projects next month, and I will write a blog post next week about which one I choose and my outline for it.

Potential project ideas:

Project #1: Build a landing page for a business partner’s product and make a screen sharing video about why I decided to design it the way I did, and how I plan to test if it works. This project would help me with all four of my skills.

Project #2: Find an ad done by a startup, and interview that company’s head of marketing, asking about the process behind creating the ad. Do that 5 times and turn it into an eBook. This is my favorite of the project ideas so far, and probably the one I will be going with. It uses all of my skills, and gives me insight into real marketing, and also has a creative side.

Project #3: Learn a popular email marketing tool like MailChimp and create 5 explainer videos on how to make a drip campaign. This would be a fantastic project because I would gain valuable marketing experience and create some videos, which is also my passion.

Project #4: Picking out my favorite products and deconstructing their marketing funnel. Look at their website and social media channels, sign up for their email list, and every other form of marketing they have. Take notes along the way and write about what you find. I love the idea of diving deeper behind brands I support and figuring out why their company works so well.

Project #5: Pick 3 brands and follow them on every social media channel they are on. Analyze how they are using each channel differently, and why it does or doesn’t work. Break it down in a blog post or video. This is similar to project 4, but a little broader. It would enhance all of my skills.

The best thing I’ve found with projecting these five different project ideas:
While I will only be doing one of these projects next month, I now have the ideas for other projects. I can always come back to this. I’m thinking of ways to understand marketing. I’m finding projects that strengthen that understanding.

And that makes me really happy.

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