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Careers

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UNSW: Alumni Interview with Laura Prael, LEP Digital Founder

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The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Alumni Team recently interviewed our Founder & Director, Laura, on how her Masters degree shaped her career today.

UNSW: Tell us about your current role.

Laura: I own and run a fast-paced digital marketing agency called LEP Digital based in Gosford on the Central Coast. I manage an in-house team of three and several contractors to deliver compelling content to our clients locally, nationally and internationally. We offer services including copywriting and editing, website planning, search engine optimisation and search engine marketing, video production and social media marketing.

UNSW: What does your typical day look like?

Laura: Like most millennials, I wake up to my phone at around 7am and check emails in bed. I then respond to social media comments and read the news over a home-made soy latte. I walk to the office around 8:30am. We usually have a quick team meeting to set up our priorities for the day. Often this is interrupted by urgent client requests, trips to the café for meetings or lunch at the local Japanese haunt – where bento boxes are non-negotiable.

Read the full interview

Grad out of water: 4 tips for the nervous newbie

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In a survey conducted by Graduate Careers Australia in 2017, 72% of recent graduates found full-time work immediately after graduation. So, if you’ve recently graduated, it’s more than likely that you’ll be in a full-time role by the end of the year. “Hooray,” you might say to yourself. Followed by “crap” as the anxiety kicks in.

Starting your first job can seem a lot like learning to swim — you’re thrashing about, taking short breaths, and feeling out in the cold. It certainly felt like this for me when I landed a role as a Digital Marketing Assistant at LEP Digital, a digital marketing agency, in January. Hell, I’ve only just had my graduation ceremony at UNSW! In my first week in my first real world job, I realised that it was time to trade in splashing around in the kiddies pool and head straight to the diving board. Having just passed my probationary period with flying colours, I’m here to share some practical strategies for keeping your head above water in those daunting first few weeks.

Learn to let go

As a University student, there’s a fixed to-do list that’s designed by someone else. If you were anything like me as a student, you worked in a linear fashion: typing away tirelessly on one project until it was done before moving onto the next. There was no deviation from this method: mixing my Marketing courses with my International Relations topics made my brain go fuzzy. Here in the real world, that fixed to-do list needs to be A LOT more flexible. Working in agency-side, for example, it will be regular occurrence to receive time-sensitive tasks that weren’t on your schedule for that day or that week. No day is the same, and you need to prepare yourself for the unexpected.

In the wise words of Mariah Carey, “letting go ain’t easy”, but in a fast-paced business, it’s crucial to learn how to manage competing deadlines and tasks. My tip? Assess your deadlines, create a list, and rank tasks in order of importance.

Don’t forget to do a little happy dance when you eventually tick that job off your list, but be prepared for it to pop up again, or be replaced by a bigger and more time consuming task. Worklife in an agency means new tasks coming in all the time, meeting with new clients from new industries, and a very movable to-do list. It’s both scary and exciting, but soon enough it’ll become second nature for you.

Asking questions is golden

You’ve probably heard the saying “silence is golden”, right? Sure, that may be true if you’re a run-off-your-feet Mum with three children under the age of four, but from the perspective of a graduate in the workforce, I challenge this notion. Asking questions is critical to gaining the knowledge you need to do the job you were hired to do.

Now, when I say this, I don’t mean you have to ask about everything all the time. Here at LEP Digital, one of our values is to “always learn”. This means being proactive about finding solutions to problems, which is an important skill if you want to succeed. In my industry, it’s also important to keep up with changing aspects of the digital marketing world. So, continuously learning helpful tips and tricks from relevant and credible sources, including your colleagues, is essential.

When asking for help, taking the right approach can define you as an employee who has the ability to work independently and rest on their own knowledge, but is humble enough to turn to their superiors for wisdom. Use the knowledge you have to source ideas and potential answers to your questions, so when you do you bring it to your boss, they see initiative and drive.

And remember, Google is your friend. It has been with you throughout your entire University journey and it still is. Google won’t leave you. Google understands. Treat your brain like a sponge and it will have positive effects on the quality of your work in the future.

Don’t expect perfection, but strive for it

… and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach it. Instead, accept that you tried your best and now have new knowledge on what not to do next time. Working life is about producing your best work to benefit yourself and the company you work for. Always put your best foot forward, but understand the balance between creating awesome content, and pushing yourself too far.

And, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Getting constructive feedback is a great way to learn new insights and skills and make better connections with your team. You don’t always have to go to your boss; I’ve picked up some great skills from my team simply because they’ve been working longer than I have.

Take time

This tip seems very simple and self-explanatory, but you’ll be surprised at how many students (*cough* me *cough) underestimate how long it truly takes to learn and master something. Resilience and patience are your greatest tools in this case. It takes time to understand concepts and practise in getting them just right. Remember that you’re allowed to have some leeway. Even the best movies on Netflix need some buffering time. #wisdom

Is the workforce for you? (Short answer: Yes!)

Like anything in life, the process of becoming accustomed to something takes time. Take it all in your stride and learn as much as you can. University seemed like the be all and end all during your 3am energy drink induced writing extravaganza, and now it’s merely a set of memories in photo albums and a constant reminder to not mix tequila and vodka ever, ever again.

You’ll always have good days and bad days at work, but the end result is definitely worth it. Think of the open days off, the path to financial freedom, and the goals you can meet now that you don’t have study looming over your head. My goals of getting a new car and buying 100 tacos are so close, I can just taste the bills from the mechanic and the spicy chipotle. Starting your career fosters your independence and ultimately sets you up for a rewarding life. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

Have a little faith and enjoy the journey, you’ll be planning your weekend by Wednesday just like the rest of us in no time (kidding, sorta).

Are you looking for your big break?

Are you interested in getting a taste of sweet-sweet post University life? LEP Digital is looking for a creative, digitally-savvy and eager student completing their final year of study in Marketing, Communications or a similar course. The position will be one day a week for three to six months, with the opportunity of a role at the end (#omg). This internship isn’t about coffee runs and thumb twiddling. Instead, you’ll be engaging in brand and market research and planning, creative writing, social media scheduling and more. Expect regular team lunches, actual conversations by the water cooler, a bunch of new skills to take with you into the workforce, and the odd corny joke or two from some awesome co-workers… (if I do say so myself.)

If this sounds like the gig for you, we’d love to hear from you. Shoot through an email with your resume and cover letter to hello@lep.digital and wait for the intern(al) magic to happen.

We can’t wait to meet you grasshopper. Sensei (and former fellow panicked student) out.

Using a laptop with coffee image

A Girl in Progress: 7 Ways To Turn Your Freelance Side Hustle Into An Empire

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“When I started freelancing three years ago, I viewed it as a way to supplement my full-time income to pay off a mortgage that I couldn’t afford. Welcome to adulthood! Of course, I had distant dreams of freelancing full-time with all the benefits that came with it: Sleep-ins, wearing pajamas all day and being within reaching distance to snacks. But mostly I dreamt about having the freedom to work when, how and where I wanted.

I was naive. I’d never run a business before (besides charging my parents to watch me put on plays, or taking a cut on trips to the canteen for my friends). So, with that, I made plenty of mistakes early on. I did a lot of work for free, I didn’t value my time as much as I should, and I didn’t spend enough time honing my craft or building my business. My enemy was time, mixed with a heaped cup of self-doubt. Eventually, the demands on my time caught up with me: I was anxious, sleepless, and weak. Freelancing sounds like fun right? Don’t worry—things get better from here on out.”

Want to know how to navigate the tricky waters of freelance to arrive on the island of business?

 

Our Director, Laura, gives us seven tips on how to turn a freelance side hustle into an empire.

Thank you to A Girl in Progress for this feature. Read more…

Kate Hudson on stage image

Business Chicks that lunch… with Kate Hudson!

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(Photo courtesy of Business Chicks)

 

“Now more than even it’s about the community of women supporting other women.” – Kate Hudson, Business Chicks Sydney Lunch

At LEP Digital, we’re a bunch of kickass, goal driven and all round awesome #businesschicks. So naturally, we had to attend a recent Business Chicks event on Tuesday 20 Feb. Sponsored by Forever New, we were treated to a beautiful lunch with… wait for it… Kate Hudson. Kate. Hudson. Yep, you read it right. A room full of empowering women, wining and dining, all whilst hearing from the legendary Kate about her life, her business and her new book Pretty Fun. Jealous?

If you’ve been living under a rock, or you aren’t a fan of classic Hollywood romcoms, (yes, we are and we aren’t ashamed), you wouldn’t know that Kate Hudson is a successful US actor, having performed in such movies as, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Almost Famous and Bride Wars. Aside from starring in award winning films, having some seriously famous parents (we see you Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell), being a mum of two boys, she’s also a successful businesswoman and founder of, Fabletics. Phew!

We sent along a couple of our team members to join the #girlboss fun. We’d thought it would be awesome to share with you a little bit of what they got up to.

LEP Team at Business Chicks Lunch with Kate Hudson

“More champagne?” Cheers!

The afternoon began with over 1,700 business chicks (and a handful of dudes) travelling from all over Sydney to get together, network and sip on pink champagne. Seated at a table with some seriously successful women, the LEP team connected with like minded professionals over a beautiful three course lunch. (We may have told our boss we were at a meeting discussing “strategic synergistic business solutions.” Sorry not sorry.)

LEP Team waiting at lunch image

Waiting in anticipation…

When Kate was introduced by Emma Isaacs, the CEO of Business Chicks Global, she was just as bright, engaging and funny as she is in her films. She glowed and you could truly feel her energy throughout the room. She was extraordinarily adorable, and it made us love her even more than before.

Kate Hudson and Emma Isaacs Business Chicks image

Picture perfect! Kate Hudson and Emma Isaacs (Photo courtesy of Business Chicks)

Kate revealed to Emma and all of us, her future plans for movies (We’ve got intel!), discussed her family, what it was like growing up with famous parents and revealed to the room, what success really means to her. She explained that she was driven by a goal, “but never the idea of success” and noted that “nothing ever threw [her] off [her] goals.”

Kate Hudson on stage image

Looking lovely, Kate! (Photo courtesy of Business Chicks)

For us women, we work across a range of competitive industries, and are still feeling gender pressures across the board. We’re all aware of the gender pay gap, inequality in the workplace, and the struggle of raising families whilst maintaining successful careers. So naturally, it can be tough to remain driven, especially when faced with setbacks and unexpected failures. Kate confessed that she’d also felt this pressure too.

“Growing up with four brothers, I had to prove myself. With all the testosterone in the house, it gave me a competitive edge.”

It was also around this time that Kate shared her thoughts around the topical ‘Time’s Up’ and ‘#MeToo’ movements.

“It’s an overall presence of women being stronger and saying ‘I’ve had enough of being put in this corner’ whether it be domestic abuse or in the workplace. We’ve had enough; let’s learn from our history and move forward to create an opportunity for men to raise their consciousness and now meet us on a different level.”

It was really inspiring to see Kate backing the movement and highlighting the importance of women supporting other women.

Kate Hudson on stage at Business Chicks lunch image

Kate on a different type of big screen.

Kate also shared the succession of her ‘athleisure’ clothing brand, Fabletics, which she started with her business partners in 2013. She explained that whilst it did begin as a startup, impressively, within four years of operation, they had opened 22 stand alone stores, hired over 600 employees, gained 4.4 million Facebook followers, and attracted over 750 thousand Instagram followers. She revealed that Fabletics turns over a whopping 250 million dollars annually. #majorbusinessgoals

As humble as can be, Kate admitted that she wasn’t prepared for the rapid growth and that it truly took her by surprise.

“I did go into it thinking ‘ok, let’s kill it’, but I didn’t think we’d be where we are after four years.”

At LEP Digital, we all know how hard it can be working in rapidly paced environments. Sometimes it feels like our to-do list is never ending, and trying to achieve mega-goals can be so exhausting. We get stressed out, we lose our notepads and, worst of all, we run out of wine! (WHY!?) So it was refreshing to know that even big Hollywood stars like Kate are faced with daily struggles.

“I think every woman in every walk of life, especially when you have kids and complicated relationships and you’re working, has those moments when you think you’re failing at everything and trying to keep everything afloat.”

Finally, Kate revealed the importance of keeping afloat and staying calm when these internal “AHHH!” moments occur. She believes that it’s in these moments, that one must pause and reflect, without pointing the finger or blaming others.

“You have to go, how did I get myself here and how do I make this better for everyone?”

It was encouraging when Kate admitted that she had made mistakes in her career, business and personal life. Thankfully though, she doesn’t regret a single one. (Well that’s lucky, because we’ve made more than a few!) Kate’s a “glass half full kinda gal.” She encouraged the crowd to see the bigger picture, let things go and not sweat the small stuff.

“I have the optimistic gene. Life is so fleeting and short, and I just want to have a great time doing it.”

Well said, sister. We left the lunch feeling wildly optimistic and inspired. We had a full belly, a full heart, a mind full of new ideas, and to be frank, we were a little bit tipsy.

Kate believed she can, and she did. And, to be honest, so will we.