Internship

Raida Saeed | Medicine to Marketing | Internship Experience

I still remember that moment when I felt that Sabbar transitioned from being a “short and sweet experience’ to a “life-long career”. I was then more than half-way through my 6-months Marketing Internship, and I realized that Sabbar has greatly influenced my professional and personal life. I felt that it would be foolish of me to let go of such opportunity, and I wanted more. 

In college, I was on my way to check all the boxes required to get accepted to medical schools. Volunteering in a clinic ✔. Writing my personal statement ✔.  Registering for the exam ✔. I wanted a meaningful career; one that will allow me to be of use and create a positive impact on people’s lives. However, I was conflicted. I’ve always enjoyed creative projects like graphic design and writing. And in my last year of college, the eagerness to channel this creative energy somewhere became too great. I knew a career in medicine would be incredibly consuming, and there will be little time & energy left for these passions. I was extremely torn, but I decided to delay applying to medical schools until I “figure it out”.

After graduating with a B.S. in Nutrition, I started exploring job opportunities in multiple fields with the goal of finding where my passion lies even if it doesn’t completely follow a logical path. Sabbar had a saying on the website that states “lost and need a career shift? Apply now to our Internship Program!”. That saying truly resonated with me, and so I applied. After a month of what seemed like an intense application process, I finally got accepted as a very enthusiastic but completely clueless Marketing Intern 🤗

Turns out a cactus gives more than needles 🌵

Working directly with Sara Alshimemri, the previous Marketing Manager, and Mohamed Taha, the CEO, taught me so many lessons that would need a whole Philosophy-book’s-worth-of-pages to get through. But here, I will summarize:

As an intern, I started working with Sara, and I thought my work will be limited to trivial projects. However, my first task was editing our website’s content and structure. The imposter in me was incredibly hesitant to start with this project, and it felt odd yet refreshing being trusted with such a task in my first day at the job 😅 Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the challenge. The path to completing the task was unclear, which was the main point of being given such responsibility. This taught me how to take ownership over my work and spend time to get it up to the quality I want. 

Throughout my work in Marketing, I explored different areas of the field. I was able to work on creating customer & policy communication, newsletters, social media strategy, content, and design, as well as performing marketing automation and B2B campaigns, and setting brand tone and customer happiness standards. It felt like each week had a theme, which allowed me to appreciate Marketing in its glory.

Marketing as a creative outlet ⭐

By doing social media design, I learned how to use tools such as Adobe Illustrator to create fun & educational illustrations and designs. Not only that, but I also learned how to apply those design skills more practically to deliver the right and important information. 

Similarly, working on social media content helped me explore engaging types of writing, which was different from the academic and research writing that I am familiar with. I enjoyed expressing myself in my designs and taking on the challenge of using visuals & social media as incredible educational & entertaining communication tools. 

Marketing as a problem-solving tool 🔨

Working on creating content for policy communication & the app added an extra layer of complexity. It allowed me to think of the process strategically and not merely a tool used for entertainment purposes. At one point, me and my team were struggling with customer tickets. We were unsure why customers were unhappy with the process explained in the app. Then, we made the decision to replace a word in the app with another, which resulted in a reduction in the number of tickets and a much better customer satisfaction rate. This instance made me acknowledge the power of words and appreciate the art of content creation! 

Marketing as a revenue-generating machine 💰

I also had the chance to experiment with different marketing techniques to help generate qualified leads for the company. I was given the responsibility to generate my own hypotheses and spend ad money accordingly to test out these hypotheses. This gave me a hands-on learning experience to understand how Twitter Ads work, and allowed me to analyze our audience and their behavior and values, which helped tremendously in communicating with them later on.

I can’t offer gold, but I can pass on the CEO’s wisdom to you 💎

After finishing my internship, I then transitioned to working with Mohamed as a full-time Marketing Specialist (yay 🎉). His management style was different from Sara’s. Mohamed constantly throws me in the ocean without any aid, and if I’m lucky, I would get a diving mask 🤿. This was rough; almost as rough as the ocean, but Mohamed’s way of teaching was surprisingly super valuable. 

One of the first pieces of advice that Mohamed gave me was to make mistakes. As a life-long perfectionist, mistakes = shame in my book, but to Mohamed, mistakes = growth. By pushing me to take risks, break things, and fix them, I learned how to get out of my comfort zone and try completely uncertain yet exciting things. Instead of drowning in guilt and allowing it to consume me, seeing mistakes as an opportunity for growth helped me take bigger risks and create even a bigger impact. 

Not only that, but to me, sending in work that’s below 99% of my quality standards was a taboo. I’ve struggled my entire life with the fear of failure, which usually adds unnecessary stress to any simple task, and it could prevent me from finishing tasks on time (i.e. this blogpost). But by pushing me to meet deadlines, Mohamed made me realize that spending hours upon hours focusing on the tiny, little, trivial, miniscule details of a task wouldn’t actually bring real return 🤯. By directing our energy and effort to the big picture, we can totally get away with awesome work at 80% quality!

My Advice to Me 😌

If I could go back and have a candid conversation with my past self upon joining Sabbar, I would tell her: 

  • When they say you will work on real-world problems, they mean REAL REAL. Be prepared to take on the responsibility! 
  • Yes, it’s going to be super hectic. And Yes, you should absolutely still dedicate time for learning on your own to catalyze your growth. 
  • Self care. You will need it. Do it.
  • Sabbar is no test. It’s a lifestyle. You don’t shove information in your brain to be dumped and disposed of the next morning. The learning is directly applied and the skills are never lost. 
  • You will work because what you do matters to you, and because you believe in the intrinsic value of it. The impact will be greater than you think, and your work will be bigger than you.

Although my experience at Sabbar was challenging, and at times, very daunting, it taught me lessons worth a lifetime of experience. At some point the challenge was too great that it felt like I’m operating during an earthquake, but somehow I was thriving. I lost safety by being constantly pushed out of my comfort zone, but I gained the freedom to explore. Sabbar not only gave me a safe space to be authentically myself, but also empowered me to take control, be proactive, and make mistakes. It’s evident that I had an untraditional path to Marketing, but I finally felt like I found the way. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and for everyone who was involved in my growth 🙌