"A philosopher once wrote you need three things to have a good life. One, a meaningful relationship, two, a decent job of work, and three, to make a difference." David Brent

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Guest Blog - Breaking into the Marketing Industry

This week' post  is from guest blogger Jos Canavan who details her take on the current job market. Jos is a Science graduate who is trying to break into the Marketing Communications, I hope you enjoy her informative post.

Jos' Post

Being a recent graduate, the flurry of media attention focusing on the dire state of the graduate job market is of great interest to me. Like Michael, I have turned to the blogging platform in order to keep myself motivated during my transition from student to employer, with my particular focus being on my desire to work in marketing communications. With a degree in Human Sciences, I can wholly empathise with the alleged setback of having studied a ‘non-specific’ subject, and am whole-heartedly out to prove that I am fully capable of realising my dreams.

As I mentioned, my chosen career is marketing communications. A lot of employers ask me, ‘Why marketing?’, and I guess from looking at my degree in Human Sciences it might seem a bit random. It can be frustrating to be overlooked based on my traditional academic background; recruitment agencies I have dealt with have mostly expected me to, in the very least, be dead set on healthcare PR or similar. But do all language graduates want to become translators? Do all geography graduates want to become weather presenters? This is how ridiculous it seems to me when it is assumed that I want to work in science. Because for a while now, I have been immersed in a desire to work in marketing.

Picture me: seventeen years old, young, impressionable, and with little to no real idea of what it truly takes to build a career, save for the ominous lure of ‘uni’. At the time I actually  happened to be working as a PR & Marketing Coordinator for a chiropractors, a role I had secured by luck based purely on my personality during interview; no mention of relevant experience was made. I had researched and applied for the job to save me from the uninspiring duties of my first job as a sales assistant, and although it was the first time I had heard the terms ‘PR’ and ‘marketing’, I soon grasped that this was something that interested me. But with a ‘career’ seemingly so far off, this mindset came to influence me in my next step in life. Sure, I thought I enjoyed marketing, but what if I came across something else that I’d like to do later on? In the same way that marketing had fallen into my lap, another job might easily come to appeal to me more. When the time came to decide what university course to apply for, I trusted in the notion that a degree - any degree - would fare me perfectly well when it came to pursuing a career. So I aimed for the most interesting-sounding course, with the added bonus of having studied at a leading institution as my safety net for when it came to starting work.

Perhaps it is merely that I’m now on the other side of the fence and can see the grass for myself, but I can’t help feeling that this was the trap that a lot of young people of around my age fell into. Whilst we were at uni, the trend seemed to change and, suddenly, it was somewhat less of a prestigious achievement to have degree in an academic subject. I think this is the hardest part of being an academic graduate trying to get into the marcomms industry – it is not uncommon to sometimes feel like all those years of hard work (and money I might add) might have been better spent doing a more vocational subject at a less distinguished institution.

**PLEASE NOTE: In no way do I mean to say that these unis are not ‘as good’ as esteemed institutions of academia; indeed, the universities I refer to are specialists in such subjects, offering students the best resources available to learn their trade – trust me, I know this. And I’m so jealous.**

I definitely think it’s true that a rather unspecific academic degree subject meant more a few years ago than it does now, and not just in relation to the marketing industry. The most frustrating thing is knowing that you are very capable to be very successful in a role, but miss out due to the competition. You can find yourself pouring your life and soul into an application for something you desperately want, knowing that you’d be able to succeed. But the reality is that it’s a tough old job market out there, now more than ever, and there are thousands of marcomms grads out there, who have dedicated their student life to creating campaigns (lucky things), and likely can’t picture themselves doing anything else. Meanwhile there’s us academics who must seem to be swooping in and stealing their opportunities. The experience card, however, does trump them all, and I’d be willing to bet my degree (though having written this post I’m not feeling sure about how much of a loss that would be) that an academic grad with a wealth of relevant experience would win out over a marcomms grad with no real-world experience. This notion is my beacon of hope!

Now that I’ve more than likely thoroughly depressed you, it’s time to tell you what you already know.

1.      Get experience;
2.      Read all you can about the industry and keep up to date;
3.      Believe in yourself, and others will too.

And definitely re-read Michael’s past posts for some more advice. If you’re interested in marketing, you might be interested in my personal blog, covering marketing campaigns and my high-life as a Human Sciences graduate trying to break into the industry http://jos-can.blogspot.com/

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