Interview – Ananth Karthik (MME- 2016)
State and explain your current profile. Please elaborate on your previous profiles as well.
Since the start of my career, my profile revolved around marketing content writing and partly other modes of business-consumer interaction. Basically, understanding the tone of the audience the brand wishes to cater to, identifying the right online channels they are active in, and executing content strategies in sync with their needs.
Identifying the type of content the brand’s audience consumes, creation, and execution. To elaborate, digital communication (online branding content for various digital channels such as social media, online, search, emails, etc), growth strategy and content analysis. Others include helping the inside sales teams in formulating the sales pitches and business proposals, internal communication, and communication assistance for consumer support teams.
Currently, I am with a cancer-care startup, working alongside to bridge the gap between cancer patients and the timely treatment they deserve, through a virtual platform. I help them boost their organic engagement in the fore-mentioned roles.
When did you realize that you would not be proceeding with your career in any way related to your undergraduate stream?
If we look at things in a broader sense, engineering is just a small part of the business landscape, and there is much more in it. I was working actively with lots of clubs within NITT (like Festember events, Frappe, NITTfest organising committee, Feeds and inter-departmental occasions), which gave me a glimpse of a broader landscape. This gave me a thought that digital content would be the key as more and more companies are moving to rely on online/digital channels. Digital content is a profile irrespective of any industry and is of a broad scope (unlike engineering), and hence I had planned to explore different industries and the role of digital content in business-audience interaction.
How did the process of finding companies for internships catering to your goals go about and how far was it reliable?
The process was smooth and easy. Unlike within college, the competition is pretty widespread. NIT-Trichy has its own unique tag among companies and are given wide attention and utmost preference. Not just in engineering, but we are believed to cope up in any field or profile we are let in.
Did you find any entity in college that was allied to your passion?
The widespread exposure to clubs and teams within our college is a boon, and whatever your passion is, when you are into a professional exposure, you will align with it.
What kind of insights were you required to acquire and be proficient in to excel at your profession?
The kind of popularity our college has among the businesses (from tier 1s to startups), helped me understand the market landscape. I started with a small role in digital marketing and moved to possibly every industry out there. It also helped me understand how a business or a brand operates within an industry, and where I would align or fit the best.
Every one of us is capable of it, as we have that basic aptitude which can help us easily pick up and excel at the profession we choose.
What kind of skills did you acquire in your college days that you can now apply in your field of profession?
Courage to see beyond just the internal placements, and the basic interest in interacting with people were the skills the college gave me. Professional exposure is the key, the more you explore the market landscape, the more you know the opportunities, helping you streamline your career path.
Do you feel the engineering curriculum misses a bridge between designing a product and delivering the product to the market?
To an extent, yes. Though we have few management subjects like financial management, industrial economics and marketing management, the college should encourage more activities like that of E-Cell. Apart from just entrepreneurship, a pre-professional encouragement, I feel, should be there.
What is your take on freelancing as a professional career?
It is good, but not at the initial times of our professional career. An experience of, say 5 years, would give us ample knowledge of our field, help earn good visibility in the market, and let us demand our value to the businesses.
Human resources teams in all high-scaled organisations will be in a constant hunt for good talent. More the time you spend in your profile, more is the chance for you to get noticed, and start a stable freelancing career.
Freelancing will also need practice in delivering within the committed timeline, as this is one of the major hindrances we tend to face. Once these are taken into account, freelancing is then a gift, helping us work from wherever we are.
What kind of tools and skills would you suggest to someone who’s keen on pursuing a career similar to yours?
For any profile relating to marketing or product, basic aptitude abilities, understanding of simple analytical tools like google analytics, excel or data studio and basic coding languages would be sufficient. Graphic design tools like adobe photoshop, illustrator and after effects are also in good demand.
To start with as a fresher, your confidence in explaining “how you are a fast learner and can benefit the brand or the business in a longer-term” would just be enough. This would encourage the business to upskill you with relevant tools and knowledge, and gear you to perform.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
I work at a startup funded by some of the world’s biggest venture capitals (there are loads of such startups, and it is easy to join one). A typical day at work would be overseeing the current online marketing performance, interacting with the business heads with new suggestions on boosting the brand reach, and see the company grow as I do.
Is a corporate setup conducive to help you learn and grow on the job? If yes, how does it do so?
I don’t think so. Say you are working with a product team of a corporate, taking care of UI (User Interface) of a specific product. In spite of you doing an outstanding job, and being an important reason in making the product a success, you will hardly be noticed. The corporate tree has multiple branches, which will take a lifetime to climb up.
Instead, fore-seeing a startup that has ample scope to grow up and joining it would be good. Every hard work you do will directly impact the progress of the company. Easier recognition, and faster growth.
Corporate setup is good if you see a takeaway for a short tenure. I wouldn’t recommend it for longer terms.
What is the competition for places like in a target-oriented setup?
Highly manageable, if your interest lies within the scope.
What kind of growth do you see in your field? Anything exciting that could come up?
Ample. Digital communication is just starting to become the major mode of communicating with their audience, and in the future, it is set to be the core marketing scope of a business.
What are some things you’ve gotten to know of, that you wish that you’d known back in college, in retrospect?
The position I am in now, is because of what I had learnt there. None.
Could you tell us more about off-campus placements since students don’t usually explore this route?
It is very true that lots of us are worried about the on-campus placements, but things are more open-to-explore outside. The work landscape has changed, businesses have evolved from corporate culture to a welcoming startup culture.
On-campus placements carry specific, closed opportunities that fit amongst a dense competition like that of us. Off-campus companies offer wide acceptance of talent, and in fact, few companies guide you throughout your professional career. www.angel.co is a potential portal to look for good funded and new technology startups.
Is there something the T and P cell can do which does not come under its umbrella currently, but is important?
Yes. I would ask our college’s T and P cell to update final year students with the market and scope of the emerging industries, and roles that are in high demand. Also, the mode to approach a business should be informed – how should you interact, what should you interact, your tone and more with a business.
Any advice that you’d like to give to college students?
The things we learn in college are just the start. There are ample roles and industries to explore in the market, and the landscape is as huge as the ocean. As a student of one of the best institutions in the country, every business (from a corporate to a startup) will have a special preference for us and the opportunities are endless. Hunt for some hot funded startups, and start approaching. Businesses like it when you show particular interest towards them, rather than applying just like another job. Be expressive offline (interaction), and active online (build profiles in media such as LinkedIn and start networking with new, widespread connections).
For further queries, he can be contacted at Mail and LinkedIn.