3 Tried-and-True Methods Sure to Help College Students Get a Job In Marketing Before Graduation [part #2]

fargo inbound blogger davecscott

In part 2 of this blog series about how college students can get a job before graduation, I’ll share a few more tidbits.

I’ll also share some wisdom that doesn’t necessarily apply to the tactical pieces of marketing, but nuggets that are just as important for you, a college student, when looking for your first job, post-graduation ceremony.

Let’s get started.

Quick review

In email #1 of how NDSU or MSUM students can get a job before graduation, we touched on 3 points for college student to be aware of. 

  1. Know who you serve. Whether you’re blogging, creating email campaigns, or writing website copy, the end goal should always be to serve the consumer. They demand value, so give it to them with byte-sized chunks of educational, yet compelling content. 
  2. Blog. Employer’s and bosses want to see initiative. Any company looking to hire a college student that’s soon to graduate should be looking to see how creative and motivated they are. If you’re skill-set is the same as all your peers, life’s going to be hard for you. If you’re able to differentiate yourself through some sort of unique project, like blogging, then this is good because you’re able to show initiative which will help you ultimately land a gig. 
  3. Avoid the career-killing attitude of entitlement. Entitlement is when someone thinks they should “get” something when they haven’t worked for it. Entitlement is when you think that because you have a degree, you deserve something. Just because you have a 4 year degree, doesn’t mean a potential employer will give you the keys to the castle. You need to earn it. You have a tremendous amount to learn post-graduation and in your 20’s. The next few years of your post-graduation-life should be spent learning, listening and being patient. You won’t be a manager right away, and you won’t make $50k, $60k, or $100k right away. It’s also easy to be a martyr when this happens. Don’t fall into this trap. This is rooted in entitlement and this attitude will kill your newly budding job-adventure. See what Jon Acuff and Michael Hyatt have to say about entitlement here. 

Enough reviewing, here are 6 tidbits of wisdom that will help you land a job before you graduate from North Dakota State University or any college in America, for that matter.  

Tried-and-True Method #1: Learn about technology

Unless you move from Fargo to the Twin Cities and land a gig at Best Buy, Cargill, 3M, or Medtronic, you’ll undoubtedly be working for a small-to-medium-sized business (SMB).

What does this mean? It means that most SMB’s use website platforms, like WordPress, to run and launch their websites.

Learn about platforms like WordPress before you graduate. This will not only help you get a job as you’ll have some experience, but learning this skill-set will carry into other jobs you may have later. 

What sort of aspects of WordPress should you learn about?

  1. Learn how to build effective landing pages.
  2. Learn how to effectively use SEO plug-ins, like SEO Yoast, in order to get the best search value from your site. 
  3. Understand how to find and use WordPress themes that will get you the best user-experience possible. 
  4. Figure out how to impact the little things when building or updating a WordPress site like page titles, alt tags for images, tagging video’s that are linked to your site, and how to use forms applications, like Gravity forms.

(if you don’t know what the above mentioned terms mean, that’s okay. but you need to start researching them if you don’t. Use Google and the web to learn about them)

Other technology to learn would range from social media automation tools to SEO tools.

Get to know social media software like Sprout Social and HootSuite Pro. You’ll also want to understand more robust marketing automation software like Infusionsoft, Hubspot, and Act-On

What does marketing automation software do and why is it important?

When you cut your lawn, you can use scissors or a lawn-mower. Both will get the job done, but only one saves you time and makes the job more efficient. 

Marketing automation software is the lawn-mower of digital marketing activities, and learning about these technologies will make you a smarter marketer. 

Tried-and-True Method #2: Everything begins with copy

Copy, as in copywriting, should be a heavily stressed part of every marketing degree.

And I’m not talking about journalism, as in writing large, cumbersome paragraphs as seen in the Sunday newspaper.

I’m talking about web copy. Web copy is defined as copy that’s published on webpages, blogs, e-books, landing pages, social media accounts, etc. 

Everything starts with copy. 

Let’s take blogging as an example. There’s a science and an art in setting up the layout of an impressive company blog.

You need to consider how to write effective headlines, create calls-to-action that drive prospect and customer engagement, and how to develop blog topics that answer questions for prospects. 

That all starts with copy. Copy is anything in the form of written word that ultimately gets in front of your customers or prospective clients. 

Learn how to write and write well. Check out some resources here that will help you write amazing copy.

Tried-and-True Method #3: Play nice in the sandbox

When finally getting your first job out of college, whether the career field is marketing or not, you need to learn how to work with others. 

This may sound easy, but it’s not. It is very complicated. 

In working in a small business environment in Fargo, or working for a billion dollar company in Minneapolis, working with others can be challenging. You need to learn how to productively express yourself when frustrated, you need to know how to constructively work through conflict, and most importantly you need to learn to listen when working with others. 

Listening, truly listening, means not interrupting others and hearing what someone else is saying. This is a tremendously tough skill to learn, but learning it in your 20’s will save you all kinds of crazy-headaches when arriving in your 30’s and 40’s. 

Learn these 3 things when working with a team of people, and you’ll instantly catapult your career to new heights.  

Tried-and-True Method #4: Don’t gossip

I once worked in an environment where almost everyone gossiped. There was constant backstabbing, plenty of tittle-tattle, and more scandalmongers than a Hollywood tabloid. 

Few trusted each other, everyone was hypersensitive, and most were afraid of making mistakes. It was awful. 

There’s nothing worse than office gossip, and there’s nothing more hurtful than when you find out a co-worker, who’s trust you thought you’d gained, sacrifices your professional friendship for selfish reasons.

If you choose to be a “busybody”, do so at your own peril. Because once you break that bond of trust, it’s very hard to ever get it back. And when you have a professional reputation of distrust, it will follow you, and no one likes a gossip or a busybody. 

Rise above negativity, don’t talk about others behind their backs, and tackle issues that you have with others directly, by talking things out. You’ll be better off in the end, and certainly won’t burn any bridges either. 

Tried-and-True Method #5: Don’t quit

Many marketing professionals I know job hop. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, as have many others. When I see marketers that job hop, one thing comes to mind: Quitter.

Quitting doesn’t just apply to those in the marketing field, either.  It applies to everyone. 

Too many people in our modern-day-society choose to quit. They quit on life, they quit on their marriages, they quit on each other. It’s easy to quit…and it’s extremely lazy. 

When hard times come, in your new career journey, don’t quit. Keeping hustling, keep grinding, and do not give up.

Life in the working world will be very hard at times. You’ll encounter bosses who never compliment you, executives who micro-manage you, and work with customers who generally make life unbearable. 

But don’t give up. Don’t quit. Stick it out. As Jon Acuff says, Show up helpful. Show up grateful. Show up humble.”

Tried-and-True Method #6: Learn to sell

Whether you work for a non-profit, or a for profit company, you’re always selling.

You’re selling a product/service to your prospects, you’re potentially selling an idea to investors, you’re pitching a concept or a budget to your bosses, and you’re selling suggestions to your fellow peers.

Before you start selling, however, you need to have empathy. Empathy is when you put yourself in the shoes of the person to whom you’re selling. 

For example, if you’re selling to a prospect, imagine yourself in their situation. Maybe they’re hesitant to buy because they’ve been burned before and don’t want to commit.

Or maybe your boss can’t support your idea because he doesn’t have the budget to support it.

Or perhaps your co-worker can’t quite grasp your recommendation because they’re strapped for time, and their schedule is completely full.

Either way, have empathy. Your audience deserves to have you walk a mile in their shoes. That’s what makes someone great at sales. 

And always remember: don’t sell your product, rather solve peoples problems.

Punch fear in the face

Take each day one day at a time, and enjoy this season in your life, post-graduation.

And if you would, leave a comment below and share if you can relate to anything you just read.

How To Kill Boredom In Fargo Once And For All

fargo-blogger-dairy-queen-moorhead-fargo-davecscott

Boredom and bored. These words make me shutter.

These words make me tremble like the evil hyena’s, Ed and Shenzi, from the movie The Lion King, when they playfully tease one another by saying the name of Mufasa, the great Lion King.

As a young lad growing up, I learned that the “b” word was a swear word. And rightfully so.

I always felt that being bored is nothing more than a bad attitude or a mindset, which can easily be overcome. Overcome by activities like reading, going outdoors, and eating ice cream.

I’m grateful that my dad, grandparents, and especially my aunt, taught me the value of how to avoid this mindset.

Kicking the stupefied state of mind

When we made the decision to take the steps necessary to move from the Twin Cities to Fargo, we knew there would be cool things to enjoy, once we actually got to Fargo.

Cool stuff to do, like attending ballgames, blogging, enjoying miles of walking/biking trails, and loving good food.

And then there’s the pleasure of being able to savor ice cream at one of the most iconic ice cream shops in the entire country.

An ice cream shop that gets annual press from newspapers from around the country, for it’s menu items that are basically deemed criminal by the heads of it’s corporate franchise.

And this splendid place is right across the river from Fargo, in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Of all the awesome things we’ve experienced in the Fargo-area this summer, the old-fashioned Dairy Queen in Moorhead is the one place that’s helped keep our summer interesting for me and my family.

The excitement and mystique of being naughty

Ah, glorious Dairy Queen. I heart Dairy Queen.

This one place has brought me incredible joy while in Fargo this summer, ultimately helping me and my family avoid the blues that can come from the dog days of summer.

But eating frozen treats, at this historical Fargo-Moorhead eatery, is considered naughty in some circles.

This historic DQ, that’s been operating since 1949, (that’s 66 years) has been called rogue, been shunned, and has even been labeled as “criminal” by it’s own corporate mother-ship.

Eating ice cream, and other rare menu items that you cannot find at a typical Dairy Queen, almost makes you feel like you’re breaking the law, or committing an act of ‘naughtiness.’

And yet, there’s an excitement in doing something that’s right by supporting something that breaks the status quo. Like a protest against the “man” or by celebrating a cause that’s been long forgotten. There’s a thrilling sense of mystique that comes from dining at this DQ.

And to those of you who say I have an addiction to the infamous treats of this famous Minnesota franchise…well…you’re right. I do.

And if that makes me naughty, then I will proudly wear that badge.

How to avoid boredom once and for all

Earl Nightingale famously said “you’ll find boredom where there is the absence of a good idea.”

(you’re welcome for the free wisdom)

When you’re bored, you need to simply put on your thinking cap, write down some places to go, or consider the process of elimination in order to figure out something fun to do.

And when all else fails, there’s always Google, Tripadvisor, and Yelp to help you overcome daily apathy.

When you and your family are bored, how do you overcome this?

What are some great places in the Fargo-Moorhead area that can help keep the brain and body active?

How Moving to Fargo Wasn’t Actually the Hardest Part of Moving to Fargo

Downtown Fargo December 19, 2010. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Downtown Fargo December 19, 2010. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

(image credit: The Forum; Area Voices)

Giving up something you love is always hard.

Whether it’s something tangible such as a car, or a home, or something intangible like a relationship, or a career you love; sacrifice is always difficult.

So when my wife and I first started talking about moving from the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul to Fargo, we prepared ourselves for an emotional engagement, as this would be hard.

We experienced a perpetual wave of sadness as we moved, but the decision to pursue a change, the packing, and moving itself wasn’t the toughest part.

The struggle is simple to fix.

Two things that can erode any relationship are unmet expectations and poor communication.

So when my family and I began exploring our monumental move to Fargo, we started the process by reaching out to and communicating with all the companies that we’d need to engage as a part of our transition.

We started with the logical approach.

We began by communicating with a local bank in Fargo to get a mortgage lined-up, then a real estate office in Lakeville, in order to list and sell our home.

We then spent time talking with a home builder in the Fargo-Moorhead area and alerted all the service-based businesses that charged us monthly fees for services rendered like our mail carrier, the garbage collector, and the broadband provider.

Of all the businesses we had to interface with, the most important one was the most frustrating.

Our greatest source of stress was dealing with the title and closing company.

(I’m not going to name the title and closing company in a public blog because it’s super inappropriate. It doesn’t matter who the company was, rather how it was resolved)

From a missed deadlines, incorrect instruction, to a lack of clear direction, it was all a bit disappointing.  Despite the stress, we persevered, and ultimately it all worked out.

As you can see in our moving escapades to Fargo, taping boxes and lifting totes was the simplest part. It was communication with other companies that ultimately gave me gray hairs.

Inspired by our trials, I’ve created a list of three ‘must-haves’ as a part of effective communication that anyone can use in order to avoid typical moving blunders.

Effective communication must be H.O.T.

In order to create a positive communication climate in your personal and professional life, communication must be H.O.T.

H.O.T. stands for Honest, Open and Two-Way.

And in order to avoid verbal-judo from friends, family members, and business professionals, everyone should consider this methodology.

  1. You must be honest. (but be kind)

When communicating effectively there isn’t a perfect method to do it right, but you need to at least be willing to put your heart on the table, be transparent, and get naked.

Get naked? Yes, naked.

In his book Getting Naked, author Patrick Lencioni talks about being completely open and honest, despite your fears.

The three fears that keep people from being vulnerable are the fear of losing a relationship, the fear of being embarrassed, and the fear of feeling inferior.

For our mortgage title and closing company, I feel they were rushed and weren’t willing to be honest by over-communicating with me and my wife because they feared looking incompetent by over-communicating.

And it was this missed expectation that caused the relationship to erode.

Let me also say that you need to be kind when communicating. For example, if your co-worker is a rude jerk, don’t call them a rude jerk, even though it may be true. Pull them aside, have a private talk and let them know that when they act a certain way, it makes you (and others) feel hurt and unappreciated.

Be kind in how you talk with and communicate into other people’s lives.

  1. You must be open.

I feel this is the hardest part of the HOT methodology and it’s the toughest for me personally.

Being open means you need to be vulnerable. It means you must emotionally let another person in, while letting everything out. Being open means you need to not stuff your thoughts and feelings inside.

You need to open up and get everything out in your dialogue. The freedom you will experience by truly being naked as Lencioni coins it, will give you a remarkable emotional high.

Plus you’re learning through doing. This is called practice. You don’t learn new things or develop unless you actually take action through ‘doing.’

Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his NBA career, lost over 300 games, and was trusted to win the game by taking the last minute shot 26 times, while ultimately losing the game by missing those same 26 shots.

But Jordan practiced by taking shots, and missing them. Just like this metaphor, you need to practice being open and vulnerable, which takes courage to overcome the fear associated with the risk.

Be open, and keep aspiring to be open time after time so you become a better communicator.

  1. You must have two-way dialogue.

This is easier for me, but can be harder for others. Hard because having a two-way dialogue means you need to listen.

Having two-way dialogue means listening, while not interrupting others when they are being open and honest with you. If you want to see people shut down and disengage, then don’t allow them to have a two-way dialogue with you by interjecting every time you have a thought.

Interrupting others is not a skill or a character trait to be proud of. Interrupting others is a bad and hurtful habit.

Listening, however, is an art.

It takes patience, hard work and diligence. The best listeners are often times the best communicators.

In two-way dialogue you need to be heard, and be open as well as honest, but most importantly need to listen.

The rest of the story

The title and mortgage company could have done well to follow the HOT methodology.

That being said, none of us are perfect. Often times I’m the worst of offenders when it comes to communicating inadequately. But that shouldn’t excuse bad communication.

Communicating is often the toughest part of any relationship or circumstance, so why not become a communication-ninja, and do it well?

What do you need to do in order to improve your communication? Much like my weakness, when it comes to being open and not stuffing my emotions, what are your failings and how can you improve your communication craft?