Saturday, April 05, 2008

Bridging the Gap between College and Career

Yesterday I met with a young woman who graduated with a degree in Marketing, but was still working the job that helped her pay her way through college at a bar.

Not the best work experience to help land the 9-5 job...

One of the tricks to getting a job is to help the potential employer figure out how they could use you in the business.

Here were my suggestions for her:

1) Find a place that you love & volunteer to help with their marketing: it might be your local YWCA, your church, or a local sports facility where you play basketball, volleyball or soccer. Somewhere you have a relationship.

2) Find some marketing plan templates on the internet and take a stab at writing their marketing plan. It doesn't have to be perfect, but start doing a marketing plan. Print it out to bring to your interviews...

3) Go back to your old school work and find some survey that you did. Market research, even something simple like a short survey is part of marketing. Improve on it. If you got it back from your professor with corrections, fix them. Print the survey out and bring itwith you to an interview as a "show & tell" piece. Did you get the results and compile them into a summary? Bring the summary too. Or do a survey for your volunteer marketing project.

4) Did you have an internship? If so, think of 3 things you learned. Write those down on a notecard and commit them to memory. You're going to mention those things in your cover letter and your interview. Just 3 sentences or so, nothing too elaborate.

5) Go buy an inexpensive portfolio to showcase your work. Print out a press release you wrote. Did it get published? Insert both the press release and the clipping in your portfolio. Marketing students typically don't do portfolios, but having a show and tell to present to a potential employer is powerful. Don't obsess about it... get one done. Continue to improve on it every time you do something new or better. But get it started now.

6) Ever do a powerpoint you were proud of? Print that out... You'd be surprised at the number of employers who need people who can deal with powerpoint in creating sales presentations. When you show the powerpoint, just casually mention that you know how to deal with masters, title masters, inserting charts, tables, and compressing photos so that it's not too large to email. If you know how to insert videos and flash, all the better. Don't know how to do powerpoint? Check out these basic and more advanced tutorials and practice. Visit Presentation Zen on a regular basis to get inspired and learn more.

7)Have you ever created a schedule and a budget? Make sure you do for your volunteer project listed in number one. Include approval dates in the schedule. You can do it in weeks, you don't have to put actual dates in the schedule... and the budget can be approximate.

8) Ever set up for a trade show? Write down what you took, how you set up, where you went, types of people you interacted with, how that helped the organization. If not a trade show, a consumer fair, an expo, an exhibit, etc. Have photos? All the better. Print it out and put it in your portfolio to help you with the show and tell. Event marketing, grand openings, open house, even a booth at a career fair... these all represent the company or organization to the public and often entry level marketing people are the ones who can help coordinate something like this.

9) Visit and look at the possibilities. Pick three to apply for...

10)Bring one or two copies of your resume to every interview. Even (or especially) the informational interviews. It's your packaging. You are the product. People can't just look into your face and realize what you can do, want to do, did and have the potential to do. A resume helps.

-- Of course I also told her to visit this blog. Hope this helps her and the other recent grads who are job hunting or want to be job hunting but don't know where to start.

In fact, if you are a blogger, or like to blog... you may be the one to help the company or organization get started on their own epublished newsletter (aka blog). Don't discount that! Many companies are trying to figure out how to get into the web 2.0 but it's like a different language to them and feels weird. Who knows. Just 15 years ago no companies very few companies had a website. Just 10 years ago Google was born. Just 5 years ago blogs took off... or was that 2 years ago?!

Good luck and keep your chin up!!

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