Dinesh on his recent trip to Iran
Dinesh, 28, graduated in 2014 with Latin Honours from an undergraduate degree program in Communication at University of Buffalo-SIM GE. An aspiring Magazine Editor, he dabbled in various internships while studying before landing himself a full-time job as an SEO (Search Engine Optimizer) Executive at PurpleClick. Join us as we have a Heart To Heart Talk with Dinesh to find out how he excelled in his role at PurpleClick.
How and Why did you start interning before you graduated?
My school, UB, encourages internships on top of regular school curriculum - giving students time off to do internships and other work. I started freelance work as a copywriter on my second year of uni, servicing clients such as Lufthansa airlines, Millennium & Copthorne Hotel group and more.
I wanted to pursue my childhood aspiration to one day become an Editor of a prestigious magazine so I also took on a few internships within the industry, including Esquire Singapore. Then I quickly realized the harsh realities of a struggling industry. To progress in the age-old industry of publishing, it would require plenty of sacrifices—something I was not ready for at that point of time.
So I had to deliberate with myself. "How else can I use my skillset to do something I still enjoy?" That is how I set out to explore my options. I took on about 5 internships before landing the job of an SEO Executive in PurpleClick—one of which was an internship at PurpleClick.
What made you decide on taking on so many internships? Did you ever consider going into a full-time role?
By taking on different internships, I got the opportunity to try out different roles for shorter periods of time. I was offered a full-time position in a magazine but had to turn it down because it was not right for me.
Apart from internships, I was also freelancing at a local events company. They offered me a full-time role after I graduated and I figured I might as well get a steady income while I try to find my niche.
How did you eventually start out with PurpleClick?
After about a year, I left the events job and started traveling for leisure for another year while doing freelance work to pay bills. To be honest, I cannot recall how I found PurpleClick or how did PurpleClick find me. I can only remember the call from PurpleClick’s HR asking me to come down for an interview. The location at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee (office location then) was the main attraction for me!
In the course of the interview, the conversation went from a freelance opening to a ‘are you interested in SEO?’
I was at a stage where I was frustrated with clients not paying (for my freelance work) and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly. So the HR’s proposal of an internship to with the potential of converting into a full-time role sounded just about right for me.
What was it that drew you to the role/company?
My first impression of PurpleClick was made by the HR.
She gave me a structured insight into operations at PurpleClick. She had a plan and seemed to have my best interest at heart. She was sincere and transparent. She took the time to share with me the realities of the market for a copywriter to start as an SEO. She was also fair in her renumeration to me as an intern without discounting my experience as a freelance copywriter.
Meeting my teammate and manager during the interview process was another plus point. For someone who is starting out their career, a mentor is critical. It was refreshing to have 2 people who were willing to guide and share their knowledge with me. So it was natural for me to accept the offer. I didn’t have that doing freelance work.
Just two months into the internship, you were offered a full-time role as an SEO Executive. Were you anticipating it?
I was anticipating that they will offer the full-time role but I didn’t expect it to be that fast. My teammate, who was formally from Google, had high hopes that I would do well in SEO from the beginning. So it was encouraging to be recognized so quickly.
Ah. So it wasn’t a conscious decision to take on a position in SEO. What then made it a right fit for you?
The position fits my personal qualities very well. I prefer the unconventional path and the autonomy that I’m given. And SEO makes it a fit. My day-to-day tasks allows me try and test, to go with my gut feeling, to fill a need when I see it.
What excites you in your current role?
#1 Finding a Purpose in the Company. The role of an SEO changes ever so often that you don’t ever find yourself doing the same thing over and over again. It is very different now from when I first started. So you have to keep abreast or you risk stagnating. That constant demand to learn and grow excites me.
#2 Communicating the Relevance of SEO to people who are very used to traditional advertising or native advertising like Pay-Per-Click. They are aware that SEO exists but there isn’t an advocate that says ‘Hey client, 80% of your website traffic is coming from organic search. Why not invest in that?”
#3 Picking your Battles. What matters at PurpleClick is how you deliver your job. Servicing clients with a heart is something we pride ourselves in but the challenge is actually doing it everytime. I’ve learnt a lot from observing other PurpleClickers.
What would you say makes a good SEO personnel?
An SEO is one who sets the path, he doesn’t follow the trail. He/she makes the trail for robots to follow X
#1 Willingness to take risks. When people are Zigging, you must be daring to try Zagging. #zigzag
#2 Communication Skills. First of all, your clients and colleagues may never fully understand what you actually do. So you need to simplify your explanations to make the job easier for your clients and colleagues.
#3 Adaptability. On top of the constantly changing rules of SEO, you need to be flexible in your job. Yes you may have all these grands plans of following steps 1-2-3-4-5 but you need to be prepared to go to step 5 first and work your way backwards; or jumble the order altogether and still reach your objective.
What is one piece of advise you would give to any fresh graduates?
Start early, talk to companies, get internships. As many as possible. Don’t reject anything outright. If it doesn’t work out then bow out respectfully. You never know what you don’t know and different people progress differently in their careers. So don’t compare yourself with anyone. Instead think about how each opportunity is going to bring you to the next.
What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone looking to join an agency?
Come in with that mindset that you are not going to change the world, but you can change the circle of people around you. Agency work embodies Murphy’s law. Expect to learn a lot about exercising patience when everything goes wrong.
If you’re joining PurpleClick, come in expecting to get a great breadth of exposure because PurpleClick’s clientele is quite impressive and we are an award-winning yet accessible agency.
How would you sum up your time with PurpleClick thus far?
I may have to progress to other jobs in my career at some point, but PurpleClick will forever be that one job that I have an emotional investment in.
I may have to progress to other jobs in my career at some point, but PurpleClick will forever be that one job that I have an emotional investment in. Ask anybody who is an ex-Purpleclicker. That identity is something that sticks, and will follow you everywhere. You kind of inherit it.
Dinesh has evolved from a freelance copywriter to a passionate advocate of SEO. He has grown from an intern to the go-to person for PurpleClick's clients seeking SEO success. A position in SEO is structured yet so dynamic that it opens up avenues for professional development as well as personal discovery.
Question is: Do you Dare Zag when the rules are to Zig? #ZigZag
If you're a rebel at heart yet thrive in a system of structure unbeknowst to most, compel us with your most impressive resume via firstname.lastname@example.org