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Im finally in a position to talk about an exciting new project I've been working on. Fresh Egg are about to launch an exciting new training programme for people who want to gain a professional insight of practical Search Engine Optimisation, The SEO Intern Training Programme.
There's nothing particularly new or exciting about SEO training itself. Lots of companies have offered various training models for many years. People who wish to learn the basics of SEO have been able take remote learning courses, or attend workshops, for many years. But this project is exciting because it is different.
Ours isn't some out-of-context course. In our programme, the trainee comes to work with and for us, tutored and guided by both myself and the SEO Director of Fresh Egg, Lee Colbran. Our SEO training provides actual professional SEO practice in real life client campaigns.
Attendees of the Fresh Egg SEO Internship Training not only gain access to the experience of two fine and long established SEO professionals, they also gain experience all of their own. Real world experience of the practice and business of providing SEO and SEM services. No made-up exercises. No artificial scenarios. We are offering genuine, commercial Search Engine Marketing business experience.
Search engine marketing is in very hot, and ever-increasing, demand. The growing demand far outstrips the rate at which newcomers to Search Engine Optimisation can teach themselves the craft. There is already a serious shortage of skilled persons - a skills gap, and far too little has been done to address this by our industry at large.
Last year I saw many vacancies for SEO and SEM related jobs that went unanswered, (in some cases unanswered for more than 6 months), despite some offering some pretty attractive salaries (one of which was over £110,000 salary, almost $200,000 US dollars per year, with performance bonuses on top). Even many of the prestigious SEO companies I have dealt with and spoken to over the past year have mentioned on numerous occasions how hard they are finding it to recruit good staff.
I have to admit that I have not experienced that shortage personally. The recruitment tasks that I have needed to do in the past couple of years have gone very well. But I am not at all complacent about this issue. This shortage of skilled staff has reached many companies that I respect, and will reach me too, sooner or later, unless something is done.
I am fully committed to the belief that it is up to us, within the industry, to stop relying on the growth of natural talent to hire, and instead start to nurture and develop the future pool of talent. It is time to stop relying on windfall talent for the future. It is time for serious and innovative training programmes to narrow the skills gap. I believe that the SEO Internship Programme is just such an innovation.
There are two different programmes that we are opening with. The first of these is what I see as our 'Standard SEO Internship' training programme.
Places on this course cost the intern £500 per week, meaning that the full 2 week course costs a total of £1,000. This fee provides the intern with bed and breakfast accommodation from Sunday night to Friday morning (we assume most trainees would return home for the weekend).
Interns must pass through our selection process. Our selection process helps us to ensure that this opportunity is given to the candidates who can gain the most from it. It helps us to maximise the benefit that these training opportunities present.
Each day of the ten working days of this course, the accepted Intern begins by having one of the practices of the SEO business explained in detail. He is then able to put this knowledge into practice immediately in a genuine professional project.
The specific areas of training we propose are:
Our second offering is the Intern Scholarship Program. This course is given free and is paid off by being a full one-month placement (meaning they pay the cost in sweat equity). The Scholarship does not typically include accommodation, and is usually offered to more local candidates than the standard SEO Internship. This product is intended to create local excellence (and thus a superb potential future recruitment pool).
The selection process for scholarships is just as exacting as for the internships, perhaps even more so. Preference is given to candidates who are local, and may even represent potential staff at a future time. It is an amazing opportunity for an applicant to be able to spend a month with the guidance and mentorship of top SEO professionals, and to gain a month of work experience in a leading SEO company.
The same topics and areas of SEO knowledge are provided as with our standard Internship, but a far greater amount of experience is gained in the additional time. There are no fees for this training, but accommodation is not provided, and trainees on the SEO Scholarship programme can expect hard work for their month, ensuring truly realistic experience is gained in addition to the mentoring and knowledge.
We are launching these training programmes almost immediately, and are now ready to accept applications for the first Internships or Scholarships to run sometime in October. We already have 2 bookings for November, but I'll leave that story for their own news scoop.
For readers who know my background, I'm sure you can appreciate my excitement. I have spent a decade supporting and mentoring new talent in forums and via private communications. My years as an unpaid administrator at Cre8asite, trying to help webmasters, marketers and new SEOs get the same passion for SEO that I have, make this feel like the culmination of my efforts, and my joy in teaching.
This project genuinely excites me. It seems so obvious now that training needs to incorporate the genuine work experience that employers and clients demand. I feel that this venture opens a world of opportunities. Do you feel it too?