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Stepping Stones: A Marketing Student’s Co-op Experience


April 2021 – by Areej Khokhar


This month’s PICCO perspective is written by co-op student, Areej Khokhar. Areej joins us in her 4th year of her Marketing program from the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, Toronto—a program that teaches students to interpret and respond to client needs by analyzing trends, competitive activity, and other factors to develop strategies.


Read on as Areej shares her experience working with PICCO.

Caption: Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto, Ontario—one of Canada’s leading business schools that brings together people from diverse communities, professions, and experiences to collaborate in new ways (Source: ryerson.ca).


Student Profile

For my second work term, I chose to work with PICCO because I was interested in learning about an engineering firm and what their purpose is. I began my position as a Marketing Administrator at PICCO Engineering in January 2021, for a duration of four months. I became interested in marketing in my first year where I took an introductory marketing course and was introduced to topics such as financial marketing, the marketing matrix, environmental scanning, and STP (segmenting, targeting, and positioning). However, what I found most interesting about marketing is how it is the art of storytelling. I chose this career path because it allows me to be both creative and analytical.

Caption: Areej enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures and food. She traveled to seven countries including France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, England, and Pakistan.


When I'm not engaged in my studies, some of my personal interests include traveling, baking, arts and crafts, dancing, and spending time with my loved ones.

It was interesting to see first-hand, the process of the company rebranding; where PICCO Group of Companies has two distinct entities: PICCO Engineering Limited and PICCO Structures Ltd. From a marketing perspective, this has been one of the most exciting parts of my journey!

Experience is the Best Teacher

Many exciting opportunities for personal growth and professional development presented themselves as I learned about the variety of stone materials, how structural engineers build facades, and how it impacts residential engineering and different building types. Working with Sarah Picco, Marketing Coordinator, my primary responsibilities included: managing social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn)—creating posts and capturing analytics’ performing administrative tasks, and conducting research and setting up Google alerts to build stronger project profiles.


What’s unique about this work term is that I started at “PICCO Engineering”—and now we are PICCO Group of Companies! It was interesting to see first-hand, the process of the company rebranding; where PICCO Group of Companies has two distinct entities: PICCO Engineering Limited and PICCO Structures Ltd. From a marketing perspective, this has been one of the most exciting parts of my journey, having the opportunity to experience how—and why—the company transitioned to a new website domain, as well as the design process of refreshing their logo identity.

Caption: Learning a new skill using Adobe InDesign to create ad layouts and digital graphic covers for podcasts, news articles, and blogs.


Applying a Learning Curve One of my highlights was designing a magazine advertisement published in The Natural Stone Institute's March issue of The Cutting Edge. I was introduced to new software, InDesign, which is a page design and layout application from Adobe's Creative Cloud suite. As a first-time user, I was self-directed to online learning—using Youtube tutorials and other sources of information to help understand the main functions of the software. I successfully applied my learning to different projects which included designing covers for the news section of the website and formatting CVs. Overall, I developed a new skill in this role that is valuable to supporting marketing outputs and is a hands-on skill that will be applicable in the future, too!


Caption: Applying marketing skills to planning and publishing content using a social media management tool.


Another accomplishment was developing a one-year social media marketing plan using Planable, a social media collaboration, and management tool. This was the first time I was introduced to Planable, which enables you to connect various social media accounts and utilize a dashboard to plan, organize, write copy, and schedule posts. It provides greater flexibility to update posts as per a dynamic work environment and changing needs. I had the opportunity to view and select images and videos from various projects that would be shared and published on PICCO’s social media platforms.


As a student, I often use MS Word for assignments and projects; however, I only applied basic functions such as formatting text and paragraphs, inserting endnotes, adding a header/footer. In my role as a Marketing Administrator, I explored additional, intermediate features of Word such as inserting content using quick parts, formatting and editing restrictions, and content locking. I applied this to creating and formatting official form templates, on brand, for the two (stone and structural) entities to implement internally, and present a consistent look and feel when communicating with clients.


Adapting to Achieve My Goals

One of my personal goals in this program was to strengthen my communication skills. In a remote work environment, communication is essential as a co-op student. Since the pandemic hit, I experienced both a remote work environment and a remote semester of classes. At the beginning of this work term, I knew I had to ask questions and seek clarification where needed, as it would be an integral part of my learning experience. To integrate into PICCO’s virtual work environment, I used Microsoft Teams as a communication tool and leveraged various methods of communication such as messages, video calling, and voice call with screen sharing. Overall, adapting to a remote work environment meant managing my time and myself.


I am proud I was able to step outside my comfort zone and lead one of our monthly marketing meetings with the Senior Leadership Team. Although I am a quiet individual, I identified my own strengths and weaknesses and transformed this into a SMART goal. There were many opportunities where I worked cross-functionally with my colleagues in the engineering and human resources departments. As a Marketing Administrator, I enhanced my communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.


Overall, through my experience, I learned a few things I will take with me and apply to my next work experience:

  • Be prepared to learn—as a co-op student, it is important to start each day with an open mind and take on challenges.

  • Be open to feedback—throughout my work term, I received feedback on my work which helped me with goal setting and improving my performance.

  • Be confident—leading a meeting and being in a remote work environment can be challenging, however, the people around us always want us to succeed!

My time with the PICCO Group of Companies has been educational and fun! I didn’t know what to expect when I started. I was feeling mixed emotions, nervousness, and excitement to learn. However, I gained confidence, developed new skills, and learned that marketing can be applied to many different creative aspects of the business. Thank you to Sarah, and Creative Director, Karen, for your guidance, professional mentoring, and support in making this a memorable experience.

 

Blog written by: Areej Khokhar

Marketing Administrator Co-op Student at PICCO


Areej is a 4th-year co-op student majoring in Marketing in the Business Management Program at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. She worked as a Marketing Administrator during her co-op work term from January to April 2021.


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