An Internship at a Data Centre – My Experiences, Lessons Learnt and Advice
Having recently completed an internship at LDeX, I was approached with the interesting idea of writing a blog about it. I was intrigued by the prospect of sharing my experiences with readers who may be interested in a career in a data centre, or even those who are just curious as to what an internship in this industry entails.
An internship provides a gateway into one’s chosen field, with opportunities to gain experience and transferable skills along the way. Internships are therefore often in high demand, particularly within competitive sectors such as IT. I have written this blog to give readers an insight into my time as a Marketing & Communications intern at a data centre.
Having completed a degree in Business & Information Management, an internship with LDeX seemed the perfect opportunity to take my interest in technology and digital marketing that one step further. My degree had given me a theoretical understanding of today’s world of business and technology, but I wanted to put this knowledge to practical use. My time with LDeX so far has been significant for me in not only gaining valuable data centre and B2B marketing experience, but also experience in working within a professional business environment.
Developing technical acumen
One of my main goals in undertaking this internship was to develop a strong level of knowledge and understanding of the technical details surrounding data centre facilities and the relevant technologies. What I found very beneficial early on in my role was that I was not expected to join the company as a tech expert, but rather as someone with an interest in the field and a keen desire to learn.
My internship began with researching the colocation industry. This became an ongoing task that was expected of me on a regular basis, as I was required to learn more about the industry in relation to our various projects and tasks. Researching the business involves understanding the operational aspects of colocation, and keeping track of industry trends.
I was also given a full tour of the LDeX facilities, which helped me to understand how the data centre operates. This included a thorough explanation of such key aspects as: client racks and power usage; cooling and fire suppression systems; security measures; and satellite and connectivity services. Learning about data centres was crucial as I needed to be aware of the key factors that shape and drive the industry in order to help market and promote the company.
As part of our marketing campaigns, I would conduct research into certain sectors and companies that we were looking to target, such as tech start-ups and media. Effective market research is key to making these campaigns successful, as it helps the marketing team to better understand the verticals being targeted. For us, this meant identifying why such businesses would require LDeX’s colocation and/or satellite services. During my ongoing research of the data centre industry, I was also responsible for regularly producing a competitor analysis for my colleagues, highlighting recent news and competitor activities. This was useful for keeping track of what is happening in the industry and what other colocation providers are doing.
Creating online content is important as it helps you communicate your message to your target audience through various mediums and in creative ways. My role involved researching and suggesting content ideas, which would then be shared with the team during meetings. When reading the latest tech news, I would identify current trends and recent events within the industry that the LDeX staff could perhaps write a blog about and comment on. I also participated in team brainstorms to come up with innovative ways of getting our message out to the market, such as the use of videos and infographics.
Team work and meetings
Team meetings take place regularly in order to give everyone in the LDeX team a high-level overview of what is happening in the organisation and in the market, and how campaigns can be strategically aligned in relation to market trends and buyer/vendor cycles to generate leads. This is done to keep the team updated on all projects and to give each member the opportunity to share ideas and add value to business strategies. These meetings helped to strengthen communication between my colleagues and I. They also allowed me to contribute to discussions of our overall strategies through sharing ideas and other key information.
Social media and customer service
A significant part of my role was to interact with key stakeholders and to help reinforce the LDeX brand. The use of social media is useful in this respect as it can be used as a channel of communication with online social communities. I assisted the marketing manager with social media activities, and I handled these duties myself whenever she was away.
I also used an online chat tool on the LDeX website to provide customer service for visitors, and to deal with various queries from information requests to rack pricing quotes. The initial point of contact between companies and consumers often take place on the website, so therefore providing exceptional customer service via web chat is essential in creating a good first impression and converting website visitors into leads.
Digital marketing tools and software
With my main interest in marketing leaning more towards the technical and analytical side, I was keen on developing skills in using digital marketing tools and techniques during my internship. For example, I used Google Analytics to compile weekly reports containing statistics and analysis of website usage and performance. These reports are useful in determining what has been driving visitors to the site and analysing fluctuations in traffic. Another example is the use of Google Webmaster tools to monitor SEO performance. I would compile regular SEO reports that show such key data as the positions of certain LDeX URLs and their respective search queries in the Google search engine.
Over the course of the internship, I had numerous opportunities to attend various events during the internship, which were new and pleasant experiences for me. I especially enjoyed attending technology-related events and expositions such as Data Centre World & Cloud Expo 2014, where I had the chance to learn more about the data centre and IT/cloud industries through attending seminars hosted at the events and by networking with industry experts and professionals.
By visiting stands and speaking with exhibitors at these events, I gained great insight into the companies and services that are out there. This helped me to develop a deeper understanding of how LDeX could market and strategically position itself in relation to competitors and existing services. These events also gave me experience in communicating and networking with professionals.
My internship taught me a lot from an interpersonal and practical level. It had helped me to develop valuable experience of the data centre industry and working in a technology-oriented business environment. I have now been given opportunities to stay on with LDeX to work in the colocation and networking side of the business. This has greatly expanded my skills on a more technical level, and has helped to satisfy my thirst for knowledge.
If I had to give a few points of advice from my experiences and the lessons I learnt to future data centre interns, they would be the following:
- Research the company and the industry, and learn as much as you can about it – it will help you perform better as an intern to know about the business and how it operates.
- Demonstrate enthusiasm during tasks and a keen interest in the field of work.
- Be confident and sociable with your work colleagues – do not just shy away, but try make an effort to speak up and contribute during meetings if you have an idea or concern.
- Be willing to accept any task given, whether desirable or not – as an intern, you are there to learn as much as you can through various types of tasks and duties, so learn to be patient.
- As well as showing willingness to do different tasks, do not be afraid to be assertive and express your desire to focus on certain activities or areas – you will naturally want to gain skills and experience in tasks that match your interests, background and ambitions. Therefore, make sure you let the management team know what you want to do so that something can be sorted out for you. Otherwise you will feel like you are stuck doing tasks that are mostly irrelevant and unhelpful to you.
Sazmul Shikdar, Intern at LDeX Group