One of the key business pillars here at Talking Tables is mentoring. Investing in internal mentoring allows the team to develop new and existing skills and for new ideas to emerge, as well as building an enthusiastic and dedicated company. We are also committed to mentoring and guiding individuals who are just starting out in their careers. This week Beth chatted with Hannah, who started out as an intern at Talking Tables, and has recently extended her stay having proven herself an asset to the team!
- How did you first hear about Talking Tables and why did you want to join the company as an intern?
Hannah: I first heard about Talking Tables through a family member. My aunt works in recruitment and they had hired people for Talking Tables before. I had to go on a work placement as part of one of my university modules and at this point I was thinking I may want to go into marketing, so my Aunt suggested Talking Tables – she thought I would be a good fit so I got in touch and was offered the work experience. Then once I graduated and was applying for internships and roles I kept comparing them to Talking Tables, so I sent Clare an email as I saw that they had intern opportunities on the website. I think the reason I applied as an intern again was because my degree wasn’t actually in marketing and I found that often places I was applying for were asking for direct marketing experience, so I thought an internship would allow me to pick up skills and also to try different areas of the business. As you know there are a thousand different branches to marketing, whether it’s the social media or the website so I thought interning would be great to allow me to dip my toe in different areas and see which I liked best.
Beth: Definitely. I know lots of people who came out of university and decided on something as definitely what they wanted to go into, having never actually experienced it and they then got themselves into a job which they were kind of stuck in but realised they don’t actually enjoy at all. Then it’s years down the line and they feel this need to change their career because it wasn’t what they expected. So I agree I think internships are a really great way to gain that knowledge and experience and see if it’s the right fit.
Hannah: Yes and I also think people quite often forget that when you interview for a role it’s not just the role it’s also whether the company is right for you - it’s just as important.
Beth: Exactly, two places can offer the same thing as a role and a business but no two companies are the same. So it’s good you had already had this initial taster of Talking Tables and knew you wanted to come back, and fit in well. Which is a testament to the company!
Hannah: Yes and even before I’d done the internship I used some Talking Tables products and had seen them in stores, so it was really nice that I could already relate to the company.
- What were your first impressions of Talking Tables when you joined?
Hannah: So the first thing that really hit me about Talking Tables was the sense of family and culture of the company. I found everyone was so friendly, whether at lunchtime or just around the office and people were really keen to ask me what I wanted to learn and how they could help, even if they weren’t directly in the marketing department – people from the content team or sales team offered to go through what they do, which is amazing because everyone is so busy and they proactively wanted to help me learn.
I was also really impressed by the office environment. For example with birthdays and company socials, or team building aspects – you can see that the company is so willing to put in the time, money and effort to make it a positive work experience. There’s all sorts of clubs, like book club or yoga. When I speak to friends about this many have said that their company would never do things like that.
Beth: Definitely. Prior to joining Talking Tables I had a few jobs and certainly those companies never put the time and effort into the culture of the business to ensure the team feel valued and content. Here it’s not just a case of ‘you’re here to work, then go home’.
Hannah: I also sat in a product development meeting the other day with the product team and even though we are in separate departments every aspect of the business is linked together. It is important to be part of the wider team and understand what is going on, like the full team zoom calls each day.
Beth: Yes understanding the link between each area is so important. When I joined everyone made such an effort to make me aware of what they all do and how they all link, and in turn that helps you with your own work because you understand the process much more.
Hannah: I always say to people that Talking Tables is like a ‘big-small’ company, in that it’s big enough that you can get stuck into big projects and you can see the impact of your work. But it’s still small enough that you feel like a valued member of the team, whereas in other roles I’ve had if you asked for a reference they’d give a generic ‘yes they worked here at this time’ because they don’t actually know the person.
Beth: Agreed, and I think there is a lot of time and consideration put into who is employed at Talking Tables, because they want the type of people who will also fit into the overall culture.
- How have you found the mentoring overall, and is it what you expected?
Hannah: I’ve found the mentoring on the whole to be really helpful as I’m just taking my first steps into the marketing world. Helen, who has been a key mentor for me, has really pushed me to have my own say and put forward suggestions, so even as an intern everyone has been really keen to hear my opinion which is great. I love that I have been given the trust and responsibility to own my own projects and not just do typical work experience style jobs.
B: Absolutely - in previous places I’ve worked the interns don’t necessarily get involved in the main work projects as you have – you’re a fully-fledged member of the team!
H: Yes I’ve been fully throw in, but I’m really glad I’m doing work that has value rather than menial tasks. Helen has been great at helping me manage my workload in that sense and pushed me to be vocal about what other areas I wanted to gain experience in, for instance I’d like to work with Ed to understand more about the web and Google analytics side of things. I was also not initially working on the Amazon projects and now I am which has been really insightful, and Amazon is only going to get bigger so it’s a good skillset to have.
B: Exactly and if you were to go somewhere else and say you’ve worked with Amazon they’d be really impressed.
H: Yeah it’s great to add to my CV!
- Has your time at Talking Tables helped to shape your understanding of business and what you’d like to do as a career?
H: Well I was delighted that after my internship I was offered the opportunity to extend my time at Talking Tables to a full time 6 month contract. I’m really grateful for having these opportunities to work in different areas of the business – it’s given me a much broader understanding of what goes into running a successful business and overall business structure. There’s also the international aspect as well which I’ve learnt so much about!
In terms of career this has made me realise that I do really enjoy marketing, which is a relief because when I left university I initially felt really overwhelmed. Through your education everything is mostly set out for you and then you finish uni and suddenly you’re in the real world and have to make big decisions, so having this time at Talking Tables has really shaped my understanding of what it is I enjoy and want to take forward.