So you’ve completed your degree in marketing. Congratulations! You’re now an expert in all things marketing.
Unfortunately, your path to a successful marketing career doesn’t end with a degree—or even your first offer letter. You’ve tapped into the fundamentals, but in actuality you’ve only just begun.
Above all else, be humble
The key element to your success in any career is humility. Let this principle guide you as you’re just starting out. Understand that there is plenty for you to learn as you enter each new role. If you’re unsure what it takes to be humble, here’s a Washington Post article documenting recent research that indicates why humble people are becoming more powerful leaders.
Don’t be a one-trick pony
Become a generalist. Generalists have occupied a variety of seats in the digital ecosystem. A willingness to understand the pieces that add up to a whole digital machine can make you an invaluable player. It also displays a willingness to learn, which can be your biggest differentiator in a sea of young marketers.
Once you can think holistically and understand that the specifics of any channel are about driving outcomes for the business, you can drive better outcomes for future clients and stakeholders.
Never stop learning
Be eternally curious. About everything. Know that the fundamentals you learned as an undergrad are a great foundation for your career, but that successful marketing strategies and tactics are always evolving. Stay up to date on social media trends and technology. Follow your favorite brands on social channels. Ask yourself what they’re doing differently. Think objectively about the accounts you follow. What are trade publications saying about them?
Learn more about how consumers’ brains work by picking up books like Buyology by Martin Lindstrom or All Marketers Tell Stories by Seth Godin. This kind of writing taps into the human psyche to understand why consumers buy the way they do, what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to authentic marketing.
You’re your first product
Perhaps you haven’t snagged your first gig and you’re wondering how to showcase your skills without a client, product, or brand. Start by marketing yourself. Start with a blog, e-commerce store, or YouTube channel. Pick up some social media techniques or SEO skills. Whatever it is, break out of your comfort zone and be willing to put yourself out there.
Whether you’ve cut your teeth and you’ve discovered your knack, or found that you enjoy strategy and also have a penchant for design, write up your own job description. Create a place for yourself in the company that makes you a lynchpin, offering what others can’t.
Master the art of emotional intelligence
More often that not, we place a higher value on IQ than EQ. EQ, an acronym for emotional intelligence, is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Whether you’re in public relations, advertising, or out in the field, nearly every discipline of marketing requires some sort of human interaction, making EQ crucial to personal and professional success.
Network, network, network
Oftentimes, marketing can be a game of not what you know, but who. Join a marketers’ meetup in your area. Rub elbows with the people in (and outside of) your field. Connect with people on LinkedIn. Find someone with a career path similar to the one you want to be on and ask questions. You’ll hit walls, but eventually someone will accept your request to connect—someone will take the time to answer your questions.
Get a life
And lastly, don’t forget to have a life. The more engaged you are in the world around you, the more easily you’ll be able to draw interesting consumer insights—from dinner with friends, a run through the park, or a live music show. An employee that displays work-life balance can introduce interesting insights that can benefit the company, the client, or the work. You never know when that hobby, trip, or book you share with others is going to come in handy.