Getting Work Experience in the Marketing Sector
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For many employers, knowledge is not enough; experience is essential too. The marketing sector is no exception to this, and rightly so.
As a marketer, you’re going to carry a generous dose of responsibility when it comes to how a company or brand communicates in a specific tone of voice, how it interacts with its customers and generally portrays itself to its audience. Knowing about the job can’t carry you through that – to really thrive, you need to have been behind the scenes in at least a very similar role.
Marketing is highly competitive and thousands of people study it each year; getting some experience will give you an edge when it comes to applying for graduate roles, especially if you're able to land yourself a marketing internship or placement.
Most universities will help you arrange a placement year, so attend any gatherings that they put on about applying. Placement are either a mandatory part of your course, or an optional module. If the latter scenario rears its head, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
Being on placement allows you to put your knowledge into practice and get first-hand advice and guidance from people who are performing in the role day in, day out. That kind of involvement is invaluable.
Contact your placement office or speak with a lecturer if you want to find out if this is something you can get involved in.
These can be the most secure options as they also provide a wage, albeit a far more basic rate of pay than a fully-fledged position. There are also a wide range of businesses that offer internships, from supermarkets to banks to manufacturers.
This means you will need to conduct thorough research to clue yourself up about the nature of the business, and ensure you're up-to-date on what they’re currently involved in. Look at their past and current marketing campaigns, compare and contrast, and see if there are any consistent threads running through.
Be aware of the aforementioned rates of pay for these schemes. If you’re a graduate looking for something to support you, the salary offered by a large number of internships may not be sufficient to cover your monthly bills and expenses.
Getting that role that may finally be your break into the marketing sector could be your dream come true, but don’t take anything at the expense of stability and financial security.
Volunteering and speculative applications
Both of these require a touch more sacrifice on your part, in terms of remuneration or time, but voluntary work could be a precious boost to your CV.
Volunteering is not only a great way to gain insight to the marketing sector, it also demonstrates a keen interest and shows prospective recruiters that you have a real passion for the industry.
Speculative applications, contrary to the usual breed, don’t follow on from an advertised vacancy. Rather, you are approaching a business to advertise yourself and persuade them to put you into a potential role that is either upcoming or made especially for you.
This kind of approach relies heavily on your own knowledge and understanding of the business to which you’re applying, and how the kind of role you’re seeking would fit into their structure. It sounds intimidating, but what have you got to lose?
What can I do in the meantime?
Keep yourself constantly abreast of the industry. Follow blogs, social media channels and news sources, and know the latest trends and ideas. Use this knowledge and understanding to formulate your own ideas about the kinds of marketing campaigns you would formulate for a business or company and how you could implement them.
Build a presence online. Start a blog, maintain it regularly, and use social media in a clean, professional manner. Be aware of how your online activity can be a big help or a fatal hindrance to any future employers searching for you. Platforms such as LinkedIn can be fantastic for seeing what’s currently getting marketers talking.
Volunteer to do work for local businesses or charities. If you see that their Facebook page could do with a little tweaking or improving, offer your services and ask if you could contribute some time to help out.
Finally, keep a clear plan of what paths are available to you and how you want to progress. Look out for opportunities to grow and prove yourself and remember just how competitive the sector is. You’re going to face stiff competition, but show your willingness to learn and grow and prove that you’ve got the aptitude to adapt to new ideas.
Ethan Lee writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit their website.