Anne Holland

SherpaBlog: Notes from My Speech to College Seniors – How to Break into the Internet Marketing Field

November 5th, 2007

Last month, I was honored to be invited by my alma mater, Connecticut College, to speak on a panel about Internet-related careers.

If you have a young adult in your family or circle, they may find this advice useful, too.

-> Jobs for Math Lovers

Heavens! Internet marketing departments want you, need you, yearn for you. According to new MarketingSherpa data, search marketing campaign analysts are 63% harder to hire than other skilled employees.

Plus, just look at how many jobs are posted on the boards at the Web Analytics Association. Acres of opportunity and for great companies, too. If you enjoy analyzing the reasons behind stats, you’re in clover.

Best link:

-> Jobs for Good Writers

Loads of opportunity here, too. If you enjoy figuring out what makes other people tick (perhaps you studied psychology or acting) and you can write concisely, weighing every word, definitely consider a copywriting career.

MarketingSherpa research indicates copy testing is one of the top three most powerful ways to improve results for email marketing, search marketing and Web-based campaigns. The Internet may be powered by technology, but marketing success is still largely powered by words.

However, if you’re more of a super-intelligent research nut with a little ADD (you like to figure out new things, explain them to other people and then move on to the next topic), you should consider becoming a white paper specialist. Most business technology and many business services companies publish a steady stream of new white papers all year long to educate the marketplace, impress via thought leadership and garner business leads.

A typical white paper is four to seven pages long (no big deal for the right researcher/writer, but daunting for the poor B-to-B marketer who has no time.) You can freelance or work full time.

Lastly, if you dreamed of being a journalist who writes brilliant articles but worries the print magazine and newspaper world is on the wane, never fear. Nearly every company publishes an email newsletter (and often a blog) these days, and they all need writers and editors. Business is booming.

Top two links for online writing careers:

Media Bistro – for copywriters and email newsletter writers:

Journalism Jobs – for white paper and online journalism jobs:

-> Jobs for Marketing Managers

Were you the middle child or, perhaps, an instinctive diplomat between warring parties? Are you highly organized and able to keep a dozen plates spinning in the air at once? Those skills put together can equal the perfect talent for Internet marketing management.

You’ll spend half your time handling internal politics between the marketing department and everyone else (especially IT, sales, legal and the CFO.) The rest of the time you’ll be in a whirlwind of activity, coordinating the countless details to launch campaigns. Everything, of course, on Internet time! (I hope you like to caffeinate.)

Best link for marketing management jobs (online and off):

… and, finally, two key tips:

Tip #1. Get your Web face in order

As hopefully your college career counselor has warned you, Internet marketing-related employers will expect you to have a Web presence of your own. Perhaps it’s a blog, a MySpace account, an expanded Facebook profile or even some YouTube videos.

The key is that you’ve already acted visibly on your interest in the field.

Be aware, however, that those same employers will absolutely review your Web presence when they make a decision about hiring (or even interviewing) you. If you have wild photos from the last beer blast posted there, or anything else that might be considered improper for a professional, consider deleting that stuff pronto.

Tip #2. Use online networking

The real world is not a perfect meritocracy. Personal connections matter, especially when you are starting your career and don’t have much of a proven track record. If you know someone who knows someone, it gets your foot in the door.

Even if your parents or older siblings may not be in the field of your choice, you never know who their connections may know. Best advice — ask them to join a free professional networking site, such as LinkedIn, as soon as possible and work it for you. That whole Kevin Bacon factor can be incredibly powerful.

Also, search sites like LinkedIn and Facebook using your college name — are there any alumni in the companies where you want to work? For example, Google Vice President Tim Armstrong, who was also on the panel, said he has hired plenty of fellow alums from our college. My company, MarketingSherpa, is also always happy to consider a Conn College alum for our own constantly-growing list of openings.

The funny thing is, very few alumni ever reach out to either of us. It’s an underused network.

So go for it and good luck!

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