Recently, a former university classmate asked me to give a speech to his students. They are about to finish their degree in marketing and he encouraged me to share my professional experience with them.
It was an honor and I felt very grateful for this opportunity, but at the same time, it was a big responsibility because I had to provide some guidance that would serve them for future employment.
Finally, I accepted the challenge and prepared a 19-minute speech explaining how to build a successful career in marketing without connections and no experience.
The speech was based on my personal journey that started 17 years ago in a small town in the south of Spain and ended in Taipei, where I work for international companies and run my own marketing and sales consultancy, Leads to Success.
Fortunately, the speech received very good feedback, and now, I would love to write in English the most important takeaways and share them with all of you. I hope it can help other students to build their careers in marketing as well.
Is marketing right for you?
My speech started with the following question: Why did you study marketing?
The goal of this question was to find the reasons that led them to study this wonderful career. It was a pure exercise of reflection to find their real interests and motivations.
What do they love to do? Have they found a career that will make them happy? The answer to these questions will lead them on the path to their professional career.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”Confucius
In my case, I chose advertising and public relations because I loved design, creativity, and communication. Once I got my degree, I knew I wanted to work in advertising and communication, so I started to find a job as a marketer.
How to find a job in marketing
To find a job is not an easy task, especially when you don’t have any experience or connections. My recommendation is to do some internships before you get your degree.
The benefits of doing internships are mainly three:
– Know if you like Marketing
– Identify the most in-demand professional profiles
– Gain some valuable experience
When I was studying at the University, I applied for an internship at a good company, but I was rejected. The employer told me that I didn’t have enough skills for that position.
Instead of getting annoyed, I learned the skills demanded and I applied for the same internship the following year. Finally, I got the internship.
Have you considered to do an internship during college? Many companies offer internships exclusively for students.
Some students told me that to find an internship is difficult. Then, I recommended finding a friend or acquaintance who may need their help.
I am sure that they will find someone, who needs to improve their current marketing strategy or build a consistent sales funnel.
They may not get paid, but they will be paid in experience and will help them to get a job after they get the degree.
“The expert in anything was once a beginner”Anonymous
Your first job will influence your future career
Your first company and your boss will set the direction for your future career. Therefore, you should think twice before you accept a job.
Do you like the business? Do the company’s values, mission and vision fit you? Do you like your future boss?
Consider if the job will help to build up your professional network and learn from your boss and co-workers.
Will the new job let you develop new, in-demand skills every year? Will it affect your ability to get the next job?
In my case, my first job, excluding my previous internships, was at Reebok. I worked in the marketing department and I was lucky to meet great workmates that taught me how to think smarter and work harder to pursue my goals.
It was just the beginning of my professional career. Later, I started to work as CMO in leading global companies where I had the opportunity to manage teams in different countries and implement ambitious marketing plans.
Know your strengths and weaknesses, and meet the market needs
You should conduct a personal analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses and a market analysis of the industry you want to work. No matter whether it is your first job or your fifth one, you must do it.
In the future, your professional career path will have many ups and downs and you need to figure out how to handle them. In 2013, I was working as CMO for the EMEA region of one of the largest telecom companies in the world.
Unfortunately, the subsidiary where I was working was sold, the company undertook a restructuring of the staff, and I was fired. It was a shocking moment. I was a C-level executive and suddenly I went to the front of the unemployment line.
For these challenging situations, I strongly recommend conducting a personal SWOT analysis. This self -analysis will help you to learn more about you and to find your life and career direction.
How to conduct a personal SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis is the bedrock of any career plan, because it is a great tool to identify your current situation and to define your ideal one.
You will analyze your strengths and weaknesses, find areas of improvement, and identify current opportunities and potential threats that may affect your career development.
When I was in between jobs, I did my personal SWOT analysis, and I decided to take a sabbatical year and study an International MBA. It was the best decision I have ever made.
I met many talented people, improved some critical soft and hard skills, gained a better understanding of how a company works; and I even developed an entrepreneurial mindset that helped me later to run my consultancy project.
How can you do your own personal SWOT analysis? Try to answer the following questions:
- What do you do better than your competitors?
- Are you part of a network none of your competitors is involved in? What connections do you have with powerful people?
- What personal resources do you possess?
- What do you love to do?
- Do you have competencies and skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for?
- What do other people see as your strengths?
- What achievements are you most proud of?
- What tasks and responsibilities do you dislike? What kind of work do you usually avoid because of a lack of confidence?
- Do you have any negative work habits?
- What are you bad in?
- What do you do worse than your competitors?
- Which of your personality traits hold you back?
- What can you improve? What should you hone and practice in order to find a job?
- Which factors affect your career development?
- What do other people see as your weaknesses?
- Is your industry or your profession booming?
- What kind of training programs are available? What kind of resources do you have?
- What external elements (technologies, contacts…) can help you to achieve your goals?
- Can you get a mentor to support you? Do you have a valuable network of contacts to help you?
- In which industry could you easily move? Which industry is in particular need of your type of profile?
- Can you create an opportunity by offering a solution to a problem?
- Are any of your competitors failing to do something important? Can you take advantage of it?
- Which obstacles are in your way to the job?
- Who are your competitors and what do they do better than you?
- What are the new technologies that you don’t master? Can technological changes threaten your position?
- Could any of your weaknesses lead to threats?
- What do you worry the most concerning the job search?
- What are the weaknesses of your profession concerning the job search?
- Is your job changing?
If the opportunity doesn’t exist, create it. Have you ever considered becoming an entrepreneur?
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”Peter Drucker
After I got my MBA with distinction, I moved to Taipei and I started from scratch. I built a valuable network of potential clients by visiting fairs, tradeshows, networking events and collaborating with local associations and magazines.
I started to help entrepreneurs and businessmen to build profitable sales funnels and make their companies stand out from competitors. We organized multiple events in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and I was even invited to participate as a keynote speaker in the largest cycling tradeshow in the world.
Previously, I had never arranged workshops, it was something new for me, but I loved it. Leads to Success, our marketing and sales consultancy was born.
Have you considered to run your own business?
Whether or not you have a job, you may be considering to run your own project. Think about one market need that is not covered yet and could have a considerable demand.
Build a minimum viable proposal, identify a minimum viable segment with a common and urgent need and test it with them.
If you start to receive good feedback, emails and inquiries, it is certainly a good sign. It could be the beginning of a new business opportunity.
10 tips to build a successful marketing career
To sum up, please keep these 10 tips to build a marketing career when you don’t have any connections or experience:
- Answer this question: Why do you like Marketing?
- Apply for some internships before you get your degree
- Choose very carefully your first job and your boss
- Conduct periodically a personal SWOT analysis
- Visualize the person you want to be then act, think and behave like it
- Choose people you really admire and take them as a role model
- Build a powerful network around you
- Help people when they ask
- Embrace lifelong learning
- If you want to become an entrepreneur, try to make a minimum viable service and test it
I hope these advices can help you to build a successful professional career. I wish you all the best.
Have you got other suggestions? Please, leave your comment below, it will help other readers.
P.S. Before you go, you may also be interested in the following articles:
POST WRITTEN BY
Jose Maria (Chema) Lopez
A Madrid Polytechnic University International MBA has worked as global marketing director in B2B and B2C international leading companies implementing global marketing and communication strategies to ensure business objectives and to optimize brands reputation and visibility on a global level.
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