Why does it seem so hard for recent graduates to find a job after college, let alone one that they look forward to each and every day? Some young adults graduate from college and assume that since they’ve received their degree they can now go right out and land their dream job. Wrong.
This idea may have been true decades ago, but unfortunately it’s 2016 and as the number of college graduates continues to rise, the competition in the workplace seems to grow more intense every day. The advice that can be hard to grasp for any recent college graduate (or young adult in their early 20s) is that no one owes you anything — if you really want something, you have to earn it.
How I Got My Job at a Premiere Marketing Agency — Straight Out of College!
My name’s Carol, I’m a Project Manager here at Vital and I went through this struggle as well. In March of 2015, I was a senior at the University of New Hampshire. I discovered Vital for the first time while sitting in my Marketing and Advertising Club at UNH.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Our club had invited a speaker to come tell us a little bit about the real world of marketing. And the speaker just so happened to be Zac Gregg, co-founder and Managing Partner of Vital. In addition to telling us more about his company, Zac offered up a proposition that instantly caught my interest, as well as many of my fellow club members.
“The first student who receives their Inbound Marketing Certification from HubSpot will essentially have a position as a paid intern with my digital marketing agency.”
Unfortunately for me, Zac’s offer came during a club meeting right smack dab in the middle of midterm week, which is right before spring break —a stressful time for college students with exams to cram for and projects to finish before vacation. But rather than let school or work stress me out, I decided to make getting my certification and winning that internship a top priority.
I spent hours studying for HubSpot’s Inbound Certification test, which required a 75% or above to pass. I’ll be honest: the test was tedious and took a couple of retries, but I knew that an internship at Vital would be just the type of experience that would put me on the right track to pursue my dream career. The test taught me all about the buyer’s journey, how to efficiently generate leads and so much more about this new form of marketing known as “inbound.”
I remember Zac being surprised that I was able to complete and pass a test that required hours of course completions and studying in just a couple of days. But it worked. He followed through with his promise and invited me to come in to interview for the internship.
Looking back, the experience was a little nerve-wracking, as I was interviewed by the director of accounts, the HR director and Zac himself. I was asked the typical questions about my past work experience, why I think I am qualified, what is my availability and all that jazz. One of the most challenging questions touched on why I was interested in Vital and what I thought about their process.
Fortunately, I had done my homework, so I able to impress my future co-workers by speaking intelligently about the key departments at Vital and their role within the company. Vital may have done their research on me but I also did my research on Vital — and it paid off. I got the internship!
My First Day at a Digital Marketing Agency
My paid internship at Vital lasted three months, but I’ll never forget my first day. Boy, was I nervous. I had a slight idea of what to expect once I entered that orange-themed office, and my expectations were instantly exceeded. Not only was I welcomed by everyone, but the project managers quickly took me under their wings and let me get my hands dirty assisting with client calls, development site planning and website builds.
Throughout my internship I challenged myself to take advantage of every single opportunity presented and to ask plenty of questions. I was always excited about each and every task I was given no matter whether it was site testing, or taking notes during client meetings because I knew I had to prove myself. And as it turns out, a little motivation and drive goes a long way. It didn’t take long for my nickname “positive Carol” to spread beyond the project management office.
This motivated spirit proved to make all the difference. When my internship was up, I was offered a position with Vital that didn’t entirely exist yet, but I had proven myself and they wanted me to continue to learn and grow with them. I was excited to be part of a company that cared so much about their employees.
Moving on Up
My new role at Vital was Digital Marketing Associate, a role that essentially meant helping with all project-based agency work. It was a role that involved a lot more responsibility than that of an intern. The opportunity was a year-long trial position in which I would learn as much as I could, work hard to prove my value and hopefully earn a longer-term role at the company. I eagerly took on any task thrown my way — from managing projects on my own and developing relationships with clients to launching websites. My hard work was rewarded when, after only nine months, I was promoted again to Project Manager.
I know many recent grads have a tough time even deciding what they want to do for a profession. Many are quick to accept any job offer that comes their way post graduation, perhaps assuming that their dream job may require too much prior experience. Looking back at this experience, I can honestly say it’s worth it to be patient — with yourself and your job — because it’s much more rewarding to earn something than to be given a hand-out.
So that’s my story! That’s exactly how I landed this job I love so much. And here are the lessons I learned while working my way up in the world:
Top 5 Tips on How To Land a Job in Marketing — Straight Out of College
1. Make an effort to get to know anyone and everyone.
Network everywhere you go. Make an effort to spark up a conversation with everyone around you. This makes work a pleasant experience to come into every day and you never know what you may learn from someone new! If you’re still in college, do what I did and join your Marketing & Advertising Club. If your college doesn’t have one. Create one. Be eager and hungry, because college will end faster than you think.
2. Always say yes to an opportunity to prove yourself…figure out the details later.
Don’t be afraid to say yes to more responsibility early on in your professional career. Whether it’s attending work conferences, going to professional meetings or taking on various projects, these types of opportunities allow you to prove yourself. Even if the opportunity doesn’t relate directly to your job title, you should always take advantage of it because you never know what you may learn. I encountered this not only when I took Zac’s challenge (and knocked it out of the park), but I also did this throughout my internship at Vital.
3. Never be afraid to ask questions.
I cannot emphasize this one enough: Always strive to learn more. Here’s a great example: When I first started working at Vital, people around the office kept referring to these things called“CTAs.” I had no idea what they were or what they did, but I knew it was more important to expand my knowledge than to worry about posing a “dumb question” — so I just asked. Asking questions demonstrates that you are curious and eager to learn.
4. Find a mentor.
Find someone you look up to — someone with whom you feel comfortable asking questions, and listening to the answers. This person can be either a fellow colleague in the office, a professional in the industry or even a former professor. When I first came to Vital, another project manager, Lauren, taught me everything there was to know about WordPress. She was a treasure trove of knowledge. But in addition to her professional guidance, Lauren and I also shared the ability to laugh at ourselves (and a love for cookies), and she was one of the people who instantly made me feel like part of the team.
5. Never settle for a job.
You are going to spend at least 40 hours every week at your job, doing challenging work, working with a variety of people — so make sure you love it. You should never sacrifice your personal and professional satisfaction for a paycheck. This is one of the most common mistakes people make after college graduation. You cannot expect instant gratification (especially when it comes to earning a decent salary). Good things take time and hard work.
Hopefully, following these guidelines will help put you on the path toward finding your dream job. Meanwhile, if you enjoy working hard and aiming high, check out our careers page. You never know where you may find a potentially life-changing opportunity.