According to recent research, only 27% of college graduates are working in a job that relates to their major. I am part of the rogue 73%.
I, like many others of my generation, have had a rather crooked and sideways career path. I have a Bachelors Degree in Animal Science and have worked as a barista, laboratory technician, lifeguard, IVF specialist and now in Digital marketing. Closely related, right?
Why did I do this? Why did I learn new job skills when I already had a good education to start a career? Because the thing that was missing in my career was excitement and curiosity. Don’t get me wrong, I weighed the pros and cons. Science was great, but it’s not exactly the ideal career for an adventurous and free-spirited twenty-something. I needed something that was changing every day, structured yet unstructured, something that I could run with and turn into an adventure. Enter; marketing.
So how did I manage to change my career to digital marketing? The answer is different for everyone. However, I may be able to give some insight.
1. Do something. Anything. Make your own personal project.
You like photography? Take product images and send them to a brand. Like writing? Start a blog. Passionate about social media? Practice your skills and make your social media profile something that is drool-worthy. The point is just start and go do it.
I took my curiosity with photography and social media and started to look for opportunities in those areas. I ended up landing an unpaid internship with a local outdoors clothing company creating and posing on their social media. Foot in the door: check.
2. Put yourself out there and build your network.
So now that you’ve started figuring out what you like and honing your skills, you’ll need an opportunity. Go to networking events and meet-ups in your area. You can find them on sites like Eventbrite, by following newsletters from relevant groups and through word-of-mouth. Two local groups I follow are SLC SEM and Silicon Slopes.
Another thing I did was I reach out on LinkedIn and in my social circles to people who were doing what I wanted to do and asked how they got there. Surprisingly (not), people like to talk about themselves. And they also like to help other people. You most likely have a network of people you know in marketing—all you have to do is seek them out!
3. Work for FREE
More times than not your first opportunity will be an unpaid internship. Mine was. And that’s OK. Get your foot in the door and then you can take down the house. How did I do it? Well, I knew I wanted to work in the ski industry so I went to one of the local aprés ski spots during an event and spoke to the brand that was hosting. I told them what I wanted to do, and asked if they had any internship opportunities. Naturally, people love free labor, so I was in. It wasn’t glamorous. I didn’t get paid, but I learned a lot and made connections. Taking the first step is scary but worth it.
4. Be relevant.
Now you finally have experience! Keep that motivation going. Digital marketing is a very fast-paced industry with changes happening faster than you can keep up with. As you look for your next opportunity, stay in touch with whats going on in the elusive digital marketing space. There are an infinite number of resources you can follow. Here are a few subjects and blogs that we really enjoy:
5. Work hard. Be eager.
There is an abundance of opportunity in the world of digital marketing and it is only growing. As a newer industry, there is always a lot to learn. Stand out by always going the extra mile and working hard until you reach your goal. Digital marketers can be a tenacious bunch so be ready to jump in.
6. Build your personal brand.
Prove that you know what you are doing with a strong online presence. Can a job recruiter find you on LinkedIn? You don’t need to have 10,000 followers but it is important to see that you are active on social media and other digital platforms. Follow brands, agencies and companies that you would want to work for. Agencies especially will post blogs and other relevant content to help keep you in the know. You may even find your next opportunity here at Fluid.
Digital marketers are the cool kind of nerds and are thirsty for knowledge. Before you start your search you can give yourself a leg up by learning online. There are several free online resources, and even more that you have to pay for. Start by with checking out Google Analytics which has numerous certification programs spanning many marketing channels. Analytics are the heartbeat of digital marketing, so learn how to take a pulse before diving in.
8. Be tenacious.
You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to know how to make something happen. Don’t know the answer? Research. Other solutions aren’t working? Get the creativity going and come up with a new plan. Foresee the problems you could have, and mitigate them before they have a chance. Always be proactive and looking at what threats could arrive in the future.
9. Know what is around you
Research what is around you. Most companies now use digital marketing in their overall strategy, leaving you room to swoop right in and land that job. In addition to companies, take a look at advertising agencies. Working at an agency is a great start to a digital marketing career. You will work with all kinds of clients in different industries and utilize a variety of digital marketing tactics. Agencies have the tools, resources and experience to take a digital marketing fledgling (you) and grow them into a full-on digital marketing powerhouse.