Dear Marketing & Business Graduates of 2011,
I had the honor of attending (well crashing) a local university’s AMA chapter ‘Meet the Pros’ event earlier this week, and got to speak directly with a few of you. I’ll be honest and admit that I am a horrible networker and desperately need to improve, so my ‘attendance’ was for somewhat selfish reasons. My goal was to casually force myself to network, and, if I was lucky, find a potential intern for the upcoming year. I was presently surprised.
What I found most interesting in speaking with you all was the sparkle in your eyes when we started discussing details about today’s marketing technology. Your desire to learn and prepare for the ‘real world’ is undoubtedly genuine. I enjoyed watching several of you have those ‘A-ha’ moments when discussing what I, as an employer, am looking for and what will help you stand out in the sea of resumes come May.
So, to be fair, I’m writing to share that same advice with all of you future graduates that I did not have the privilege to speak with.
In short and to put it in words I hope you can relate to….’Companies only want employees with great skills’ [think Napoleon Dynamite].
If you consider that you are all essentially getting the same education, what are you doing to make yourself a better candidate than the person who sat next to you in your 400-Level Marketing Strategy class?
Yes, internships are invaluable, but come May I’m not going to know whether your internship truly challenged you and made you a better marketer, or if you were put in a back room to do filing and payroll tasks.
What I want to see are knowledge and skills with the tools of today’s marketer. It’s great that you know what Twitter is and list it on your resume, but be able to talk to me about how you’ve used it and the tools you’ve used. You may not have used it for business, but that’s a great conversation piece for you to engage me with in the interview.
But my number one piece of advice for you is to go try things yourself. Go get ‘great skills’ on your own.
Build a website. With tools today like WordPress, you can put one up over the weekend without having to know a single line of code. Install Google Analytics (its free & easy) and try to drive some traffic to it. I don’t care if you make money or if it is just your resume on the web; just be able to talk about your experience and show that you have some familiarity with those tools.
Go watch the free tutorials on Google Analytics and AdWords. There is tons of reading, but the short videos showing what things are and how things work will put you head and shoulder above the rest of classmates.
But that’s just the beginning. There is a wealth of free knowledge online that can take your classroom education to the next level. I promise you that with these types of things on your resume and being able to intelligently talk about those tools, you’re ‘great skills’ will undoubtedly stand out come May.
Thanks for letting me network, and if you mention this post in an interview with me, I guarantee you a second interview.