I WANT YOUR JOB: Sophie Back
Meet Sophie a third-year Bachelor of Arts/Commerce student, business extraordinaire, fashion killa and all round cool chick. She’s currently the Acting Head of People and Culture at the Sydney HQ of a social media agency that has offices all over the world, which is kind of a big deal for a 21 year old. I caught up with her to find out what her role entails.
So what does ‘Head of People & Culture’ mean?
People and culture is kind of like monitoring the atmosphere within the workplace – fostering creativity, development, growth, as well as recruiting and managing people within the workplace once we’ve hired them. It’s important, I guess, because the company is growing so quickly. I was doing some numbers today and I think we’ve hired 18 people within the last 12 months, adding on to the 27 we already had. So that’s a lot of growth in a year.
How did you get started at your agency?
I was just applying for a whole bunch of internships online. Eventually, I got an interview with this agency and got the job. I have no idea how! I had zero qualifications or experience… I was an intern for three months in content management – writing copy and stuff – and when my internship finished I started helping out part-time as an assistant in People & Culture. And then the Head of People & Culture left, so here I am!
Just to clarify – what does a social media agency actually do?
It’s kind of like social media advertising. We run campaigns but we also do the day-to-day content and community management for brands, engaging with their communities online. It’s not just posting on Facebook; it’s coordinating large-scale campaigns using social media and real-world experiential campaigns. We did a campaign for Adidas recently with posters, where you had to rip the posters to get a pair of shoes hidden behind them. Stuff like that.
Cool! So when you started, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do and where you wanted to go?
Not really. I had planned on doing a different internship every summer until I finished my degree because I had no idea what I want to do. But that kind of went out the window when they offered me a job… I was a sucker for the money.
You obviously did something right as an intern, to get a sweet job at the end. How did you make yourself stand out?
I guess I was really organised and I quite interested in the work. I generally did a bit more research into what I was working on in my own time. I also came from a different background to the other interns. While they were mostly studying media and marketing, I was more interested in science and philosophy and I think that made a difference.
Do you think your Arts/Commerce degree is helping you at all?
It might have helped me get the internship but everything after that has been a learning experience in the role. I’m taking a commercial law subject this semester, which is definitely somewhat helpful, but I haven’t really used anything else.
Best thing about your job?
The people I work with. They’re all really fun and creative, and it’s not a stifled workplace at all. Everyone gets to completely themselves – and be outrageous and inappropriate and funny and loud whenever they want.
Worst thing about your job?
Paperwork. I’ve been doing a lot of visa applications lately and the paperwork for that is a mountain high. And dealing with lawyers… Paperwork and dealing with lawyers. Ugh. But it feels really amazing when you get someone’s visa approved.
Any plans for the future?
I’d like to study overseas for about a year, which will probably mean quitting my job unless I study where I can work in one of their international offices. So, New York, Munich, Sao Paulo, London, Shanghai, Milan, Paris…
Wow, any of those places would be incredible.
Yeah! But I’d like to just let go of everything for a bit; I’ve worked so much since I’ve been at uni and I’m in a job which is probably more serious than it needs to be for a 21 year old. I want to pop off for a year and have no responsibilities. Plus when I finish my degree I’ll probably start the same thing over again – but that’s a while off.
Just to finish, do you have any tips for people interested in a similar career path?
Doing internships I guess. People tend to look down on internships a bit but if you find a company that’s growing quickly it can be quite exciting… I mean, I enjoyed the internship even though I never really planned on getting into the business. It’s almost like a start up, it’s so young – and it’s great working in an environment where everyone’s really passionate and the people who’ve been in it from the beginning are encouraging a really strong work ethic. It’s been a great opportunity to kind of leech off of other people’s motivation and creativity.
By Maddison Costello