Yesterday, I met with a young man who will be graduating from college in March. Lots of people have taken the time to meet with me in my career, so I like to “pay it forward” when I get the opportunity.
He’s getting a degree in business administration and would like to work in online marketing. Below is a rough summary of what I told him:
• If you want to work in online marketing, then you need to read The Cluetrain Manifesto.
• Start to make a “mental map” of local marketing types of companies because there is a whole range of them from agencies (of all sizes: Wonderman, Filter, Wexley, Cadence Preferred) affiliate networks to (e.g. HasOffers) to software providers (e.g. SEOmoz, SimplyMeasured).
I am aware that in this economy it’s hard for young college graduates to get a job. Relationships make the world go around, so if an employer can put a name with a face, you’re much more likely to get a job. I know it’s hard to be young and a newbie, but gather the courage to simply walk up and say, “Hi, my name is ________. I’m a student at the UW. What does your company do?”
• When thinking about where you want to work out of school, keep in mind that your first job is just more education. It’s like you went to college for four years where you learned a lot. Now, you’re going to go to work for four years and learn even more. It’s like graduate school, except for they pay you.
Except for it’s not completely like school because nobody is giving you assignments and telling you what to learn. You’re the one responsible for going above and beyond your job to learn.
• I was asked, “should I learn some programming, even though I don’t plan to have a job doing that?” Yes, absolutely. If you plan to work in anything online, marketing, customer service, whatever, then the means by which your work is going to manifest in the world is through technology. The more you can learn about how it works, they better you’ll be able to do your job.
For example, imagine an architect who didn’t have a clue how buildings were built. Compare them to an architect that does. Which architect do you think will create designs that are more realistic? Which one will create ridiculous arches and stuff that cost a lot to construct and are impossible to maintain?
Does this mean you need to be come a pro? No. Take a class at the campus computing center, or SVC, or online. Just get a feel for how it’s done, so that when you are talking about technology at work, then you’ll have some context.
That’s the advice I gave. What would you have offered? I look forward to your thoughts in the comments.