I haven’t gone to any marketing or advertising school and, still, I work in the field. Sure, I’m currently getting an M.A. in Advertising but that’s more because of the need of completing my studies (Thanks, dear Bologna system), than because of the desire to learn something.
I firmly believe that everything must be done in its own time, just as school must be done at the right time. But I do not think that there is a school in Romania today that can prepare the next marketers for working in a company or advertisers for working in an advertising agency.
The theoretical part that is taught in school should be designed for the market and more people working in the industry should share their experiences with students.
I’m writing this post for all of you students (whether in year 1, 2, 3 or master) and future students of marketing, advertising and communications who want to work in this beautiful, sometimes ugly, but challenging industry.
These are the tips that I would have wanted to get before I started college.
1. Read more than you’re required to
The first book that made me fall for marketing was “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. Then I searched more about the author and I found his blog. Since then, I can say that I regularly read every article of his, I’ve read almost all of his books, and the ones I didn’t get to read, I listened via audiobooks.
Some teachers think your purpose in life is to be a student and to “eat” everything they put on the table.
I say you should read more books than they require from you.
Refuse to read the bad, outdated books that make no sense in the industry anymore.
I know that there are still teachers who make their students read their book from the ’80s, believing that it is the Bible that the youngsters must know by heart.
Read anywhere, anytime. Read while on the bus, in the bathroom or when you are at your boring teacher’s class.
2. Get involved in extracurricular projects
No manager will care about the projects you made for your teachers, how nice you wrote that essay or your last exam grades. We all know how projects are made, we all know how grades are given and we all know how schools works these days.
The difference between one student and another will always be the extra curricular project, whether you’re involved in an association or in other projects as a volunteer.
Get involved in projects and work for what you want to be recognized for.
So, if you want to work in social media, then get involved in an association and manage their social media accounts. Or if you want to work in design, then get involved in the design department of an association or another company receiving interns where you can really learn something (be careful not to intern with companies where all you have to do is enter some data that the secretary’s not in the mood to do herself or stamp some documents).
3. Work for your own dreams and not for your parents’ dreams
Some parents still have this problem; they want to make their children live their dream.
If the parents wanted to be managers or executives in a company, then they send their offspring to the Faculty of Management cause that’s where they’ll make him an executive. Or if they send him to Advertising, they believe that after they finish school they will already see their child’s commercials while watching The Voice.
No, my dear students, don’t live your parents ‘ dreams.
Make your own dreams and work for them.
Even if that means only eating bread for a week, even if it means staying in a one bedroom apartment with other two people so you can work for a start-up or any other project/dream in which you believe.
Ohhh, and I almost forgot! Don’t work for your personal branding. This “I’m building my personal branding” thing is just a big pile of crap.
Your work is the one that defines your personal branding.
4. Relationships are more important than money
When I had my first class in College, the teacher gave us a tip that to this day I still remember.
“I wish you all end up having a wallet full of business cards. Because relationships are far more important than money. “
And that idea stayed with me until this day.
Make few friends, but many acquaintances! Work on projects and build relationships on trust, work, sweat and the desire to do something different than everyone else. Work together and don’t be loners. Don’t let pride and selfishness build a wall between each other.
Take advantage of every day, every hour and every project that you do together. Why? Because it’s very possible that in the future you’ll be colleagues or end up working together on different projects in a company.
5. Work for a portfolio, and not for a Resume
“Show me your work and I’ll know who you are.”
Work for a portfolio, and not for a resume.
You will always draw attention when you take a portfolio to an employer. And who said that designers or photographs are the only ones that must have a portfolio? Do you think that marketers don’t have portfolios, don’t have a document filled with campaigns and results that they have achieved? Believe me, they do have.
So start building your portfolio right now, during your studies.
Sweat for that portfolio and get tired for it. Build it in such a way that you will be proud of it. And when someone asks you “What can you brag with?” you can show them a portfolio instead of that European CV that you learned how to do it in high school.
6. Start a blog and write constantly on it
The time to start a blog is now or never.
Whether you do it in .wordpress, whether you invest $50 in domain and hosting (here you’ll show me that you are really interested in what you’re doing), write about what you like. You can write about the industry, about student life, about your interests, about everything.
See your blog as a side-project and invest in it.
And so what if you have colleagues who will laugh at you for being that guy that writes on a blog? No problem. We’ll see at the end of the school years who will be the one laughing, because you will already be recognized by people from the local industry, while they’ll still be anonymous.
Write about your experiences. Talk about what you like and what you don’t like. Get involved in projects and write free about what defines you.
Ohhh … you want to get involved in campaigns and make money? Then be a professional and do what you need to do. Read blogs and write on the blog. Go to events and talk with bloggers. Ask for opinions and advice.
Show me that you are different from others because you have managed to build a project from scratch.
The idea is simple; don’t sleep on one ear, believing that a Marketing of Advertising Faculty will get you a job.
If you are passionate about this industry, then you will work more than you are asked to and the results will show it.
Student Photo | Shutterstock