In the spirit of last month’s Student Day, I wanted to offer some advice to the next generation of students coming into the marketing industry. During my opening address at Student Day, I commented that I had wished there was a similar event around the time I graduated from university. Instead, I had to learn through trial and error and from some wise mentors. As they say, with age comes wisdom, and hopefully some of these tips can help set your career on the right track.
1. Never stop learning
It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 55, learning is a key component to personal and professional growth. Whether you are learning presentation techniques, how to use a new platform or leadership training, setting aside regular time for learning will greatly help in your career journey. A few times when I’ve felt ‘stuck’ in my career, I’ve taken classes towards a new diploma/certificate program. This always led to new opportunities and helped me take another step forward in my career.
2. Find a mentor
Whenever I’ve started at a new company, I’ve always sought out a senior leader who I could reach out to for advice and strategy. These internal mentors can not only offer advice but can also become champion of your career advancement.
It’s also very valuable to search for mentors outside of your organization. Look for a person who is well respected within your industry or someone who holds a position you would like to aspire to. If you reach out to these people, they will often be happy to offer some time to help. Managing life and a career can be challenging and it’s always good to have someone who can offer perspective and positive advice.
3. Build a network
Some advice my parents gave me when I was starting out was to build a healthy network of contacts. The more people you know, the more opportunities will be available to you. These opportunities could be a new job, a business venture or being connected with a person you can learn from.
An example of this advice in practice is the first time I lost my job. I was out of work for 6 months, during which time, I made a concentrated effort to build my network. The next time I was out of work, I found a new role instantly. It’s important to keep your network active— schedule lunch meetings with old colleagues, text, or call old contacts to see how they are doing. The love you get is always equal to the love you give.
4. Avoid stagnation
If you get to a point where you can’t foresee any career growth and you’ve stopped learning new skills, it’s time to move on. Over time, your job becomes easier, you really like your coworkers and you feel comfortable; however, this stagnation can really affect your career growth. When you get to this point, go back to school, learn some new skills and look for that new opportunity.
5. Cut your teeth at an agency
Even if your end goal is to go into sales, it’s always a good idea to start your career at an agency. This will allow you to learn all of the different roles within an agency, media planning, KPIs and how all of the different publishers and platforms fit into an advertisers’ strategy. Having this experience can give you a huge leg up when transitioning to sales.
6. Find that sweet spot
There are some really great companies in the marketing industry but there are also lots of terrible ones. When you do find that perfect job that’s challenging, has a fantastic work environment and great pay, make sure to savour the moment.
7. Get involved
If you really want to boost your career, I can’t stress the importance of taking part in industry events. Whether it’s attending conferences, volunteering on an industry committee or playing in a sports league, these learning and networking opportunities will pay dividends down the road. My time at the AdClub has not only allowed me to learn about so many different areas of the marketing industry, but also make many close friends. If you would like some ideas on how to get more involved with the advertising industry, please feel free to reach out on LinkedIn. I’m happy to share some ideas and point you in the right direction!