Thinking of going into marketing?

Prstudent Somehow through the years, I’ve befriended many people who teach a college course or two.  Which means I get to speak to many a college class. 

Recently I was asked to give a presentation about my career path and how to break into the business.

Here are some of the lessons I shared:

It won’t go as you expect.  One of the most valuable skills a marketer can have is the ability to dip, dodge, dart and dig.  Flexibility and the fortitude to endure constant change is a must.

It’s not about the money.  Sooner or later, almost everyone takes "the" job for money.  And quickly realizes what a huge mistake that is.  The job is grueling.  Do it because you love it.

Be memorable.  This is a business filled with smart, funny superstars.  You have to find a way to stand out.

Do whatever it takes to break in.  After the first job is on the resume, it gets much easier.  But that first one is a bear to get.

Look for opportunities others don’t want — clean up the biggest messes.  This is a great way to get noticed and demonstrate your passion for the business.

Always be the guy/gal on the bottom of the pyramid.  He who supports his teammates will ultimately shine.

Never work for a jerk.   Life is too short and there are too many good bosses out there.

Soak it all in.  This is probably one of the most amazing  eras of marketing — and you get to live it.  Revel in that.

Steven Silvers at Scatterbox had some advice for students as well

5 comments on “Thinking of going into marketing?

  1. Know what you’re good at.

    Be confident but be self critical. It’s better you can identify issues before someone else points them out.

    Seek learning.

    Do the other person’s job and find out what it’s like. (Be empathic from an insider position where possible)

    (As the saying goes).. If you don’t ask you don’t get. 🙂 Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    Promote other people. I was looking at a job description yesterday. I want work but I felt the job would better suit someone I know. I not only told this person about the advertisement but also sent a note to the advertiser promoting the person. (I’m not saying it’s a karma thing but sometimes it’s simply good to help others connect).

    Don’t walk into a job and within a day decide you know how things could be run better. Nothing puts other employees off more than someone who has only just arrived in the workplace letting them know how badly they are doing.

    Trust your instinct. Learn to listen to gut. It will rarely fail you.

    Keep abreast of people’s interests. Sorry guys, right now Facebook doesn’t do much for me BUT I do ‘get it’ and would happily cut sandwiches so you can all facebook your hearts out. a support team where you can!

    Be good to the cleaners and the reception staff.

    Never think your role is more important than the rest of your teams.

    Make sure you know *exactly* what it is the client is seeking. Ensure the client is very clear about what you intend to provide.

  2. Great list Drew, and great additions Susan. I’ll just add a few…

    1. Humility is more important than confidence.
    2. Stay true to your values.
    3. Build connections all over the place.
    4. Blog about marketing. (Or at least read the people who do.)
    5. Be honest. Always. If you think something could be done better, speak up. Healthy debate is a sign of a healthy company.

    There’s obviously a billion more, but we’ve gotta leave some room for the rest of the commenters, too 🙂

  3. Bill Zahren says:

    Excellent stuff. Ditto to everything above. Plus:

    1)Be quick to listen and slow to talk.

    2)Think long-term. Slow and steady does win the race. Showing up every day, day after day after day, puts you ahead of 72% of your competition. Learn patience.

    3)Care. People who care about things and other people eventual get rewarded.

    4)Don’t get distracted by the accessories — fancy titles, cell phones, company credit card, awesome wardrobe, status — be a freak for your craft (whatever it is). That’s what really matters and endures.

  4. Bill, I love “be a freak for your craft”.

    Ryan, you twanged one of my thoughts. You said:
    “5. Be honest. Always. If you think something could be done better, speak up. Healthy debate is a sign of a healthy company.”

    I had wanted to include a comment about honesty and I found it difficult. I absolutely, unreservedly agree with the thrust of your point 5, however, and I am sorry to say this, I have often found being honest winds up hurting the person expressing.

    I know Drew has given good examples of where honesty paid off for him in his career. I am a truth teller (and this doesn’t mean just point of view), but I have often paid for it.

  5. Great additions Susan, Ryan and Bill —

    It’s amazing that we all blundered into the business and survived. It’s such a maze of intellect, emotion and sweat. I always tell students — if you don’t really love it, do something else.

    It’s a tough career if you do love it. It’s a killer if you don’t crave the work.


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