I see posts all the time about “making it” in marketing. For me, “making it” meant getting paid to do something professionally that I really enjoy. The first job where I “made it” was at Crane Renovation Group as a Digital Marketing Manager. I love stats, I’m super competitive, it was a great fit. Now, at McGraw-Hill Education, I get paid to tweet and pin stuff; it doesn’t get better than that. Here’s my guide for how to “make it” in digital marketing.
If you don’t learn anything else, learn Excel.
This is applicable for every marketing job that uses a computer, but advanced (or even just competent) at Microsoft Excel goes a long way in setting you apart. Excel is the one tool that every service/platform/software/SaaS has in common. Know conditional formatting, v-lookups, filtering, and pivot tables. Boolean logic in Excel goes a long way in creative problem solving.
Make your own website and build a portfolio.
Buy a domain, buy hosting, and build your own website (WordPress is good for this). Make it look pretty. Accidentally break it and fix it. You’ll learn a lot and have a cool place to call your own. If you do something awesome at work and succeed, throw it on your portfolio (if your employer is cool with it).
Learn an applicable skill and get really good at it.
For me, the first thing I really got good at was WordPress. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I knew WordPress inside and out. My skills and freelance work landed me my first internship, so I could get some professional/real experience.
Expand based on what you’re good at.
During that time, my volunteer work and involvement led me down the social media path, which helped out tremendously for my second internship (which later led to a fulltime offer). Along with WordPress came experience in HTML/CSS (which was amazing once I actually understood how the code interaction works) and experience with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is an easy, trump-card skill to learn.
Experiment a bit with your own website, then pass their certification exam. I knew GA for a while before I was certified, but the certification is a FREE thing you can throw on your resume.
Don’t wait, start your internships early (like your freshman year of college)
During college, I completed four internships and one part-time job:
- 1st internship: web design @ SiteInSight (quit abruptly in second year due to burnout).
- 2nd internship: web design/seo/logistics @ Copperhead Clothing (actually concurrent with the 1st).
- 3rd internship: social media and content @ McGraw-Hill Education (landed 2nd FT job).
- 4th internship: all digital marketing @ Crane Renovation Group (landed 1st FT job).
The experience and networking you get from interning is invaluable. You get what amounts to a free pass to hone your skills, build your portfolio, and grow your network.
Network with your peers, your bosses, your boss’ bosses, and their bosses.
This does not mean simply hitting connect in LinkedIn. Make a good impression on them, keep in touch with email or social media (outside of LinkedIn). Get to actually know them. Even the loosest connection can lead to big time offers down the line. Your networking is your foot in the door.
BONUS: If you get the opportunity to learn Salesforce, do it!
Salesforce is the gold standard for customer relationship management SaaS’ at the moment. Being good at Salesforce is arguably the best skill you can put on your resume.