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.

3 Tried-and-True Methods Sure to Help College Students Get a Job In Marketing Before Graduation [part #1]

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(credit: shutterstock)

I see a growing trend in college grads, specifically those who are pursuing a degree in marketing, PR, or communications.

That trend is this: most college graduates do not possess the applicable digital marketing skill-sets that allow them to positively impact potential businesses that wish to hire them.

And that’s certainly not the fault of college students.

After all, most North Dakota State University (NDSU) or Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) students enter their college years expecting to get an education that allows them to find success and happiness, along with a few Bison games in between. 

More importantly, as a graduate or soon-to-be grad, you would hope that your Alma mater has prepared you for the coming work-world, so that you can tackle earth-shattering marketing campaigns, graphic design and PR strategies. 

But the learning curve is steep, and students simply are not being trained in many of the strategic and tactical aspects of digital marketing.

Some of the most basic core competencies are being missed.

An aptitude for things like web-copywriting ability, (not to be confused with journalism) email marketing expertise, basic knowledge of blogging, and how to create measurable marketing strategies are being buried under a mound of expensive books and old-school teachings that aren’t relevant.

Enough is enough

I’m passionate about helping college students.

And it’s time that those in the professional working world step up to help the future generations of marketers tell better stories, that ultimately help businesses grow. 

In light of this revelation, (not a recent revelation by any means) I’ve decided to help any college student that wants to get a job after college.

If you’re a marketing major, communications major or journalism major at North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, or Concordia College, then this blog piece is for you and I’d like to offer a lifeline. 

If you’re REALLY serious about getting a job after college, I’m even willing to help.

Email me (dave.s@bngteam.com) and I’ll email you all kinds of great resources, knowledge and wisdom in the marketing industry, that can help you get a job faster and make you a better marketer and writer.

Onto the three ways you, as a college student, can land your first gig out of college…

Tried-and-True Method #1: Prospects and customers, not you, demand value

The first step in getting a job in marketing before your graduate is to understand who you serve.

You need to know why businesses and organizations function and how marketing is a part of this equation.

Organizations, whether it be for-profit businesses or non-profits, function because they have clients and customers that demand something. 

It doesn’t matter if the business is B2B, B2C, or non-profit, they all exist to serve a customer. 

Customers and clients of your future employer(s) are demanding you to educate them, and inform them. Customers and consumers of your future employer ultimately find value from whatever it is you happen to be schlepping.

The product or service that you’re offering must give prospective customers/clients some sort of return on investment (ROI), which is the definition of value.

As a writer, marketer, content creator, your job is not to create awesome social media campaigns or storyboard the next viral YouTube video.

Your job is to create web-based content that creates value for customers and prospective clients, thus creating revenue and sales opportunities for the company.

The marketing campaigns you develop are simply a tactic to accomplish this, and embracing this mindset of serving the customer first is paramount in your career path. Own it.

Tried-and-True Method #2: Take initiative

How does a college grad create value for my future employer?

By showing initiative, that’s how. One awesome way to show that you’re taking initiative is by by creating online content that customers and prospects will love.

One excellent tactic that helps businesses engage customers is with a blog.

I would encourage every single college student to unabashedly dive into blogging. 

Blogging, when done right, can educate buyers, build trust, and drive traffic to a businesses website. Blogging is not expensive, rather simple to learn, and a great way to engage prospects and potential buyers. 

Here are some amazing stats about blogging from, Lee Odden, author of Optimize and CEO of Minneapolis-based marketing agency TopRank Marketing.

  • 76% of B2B marketing leaders use blogging as a marketing tactic.
  • 62% of B2B marketers rate blogs as effective.
  • B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
  • Blogs have been rated as the 4th most trusted source for accurate online information.
  • The only thing blogging costs you: your time.

As a college student, blogging, and showing that you blog consistently, shows employer’s that you’re passionate about your craft, and that you are purposeful with the knowledge that you’ve learned.

It will immediately differentiate you as a job candidate.

Tried-and-True Method #3: Check your attitude

One of the worse elements of a bad attitude is entitlement. The character flaw will kill your career, fast. 

This one thing won’t necessarily help you land your first gig, but will derail it.

Keep this in mind: most professionals don’t really find a career rhythm until their 30’s, most of your wealth will come in your 40’s, and you’ll spend the first 5 years or so working on tasks that aren’t awe-inspiring, but very necessary.

And you’re also not entitled to anything, nor do you deserve anything. You are not going to make $50k a year, right away, nor will you have job security or awesome benefits provided to you.

Early on in your marketing career you’ll be challenged with what will seem like crappy, menial tasks. Projects like organizing tradeshows, writing printed collateral for crusty sales-guys, and dealing with a myriad of tasks that seem silly at the time.

But these tasks are not silly, rather a very normal part of your development process.

Even though entitlement doesn’t have much to do with skill-set, it is super important as its part of your overall mindset.

Mindset is much more important than skill-set, and way more critical to your career path, so be sure to constantly check your attitude and mindset to make sure entitlement doesn’t take root.

Punch fear in the face

In anticipation of your famed graduation day, you’ll undoubtedly be hit with a tidal wave of fear and emotions…especially if you don’t have a job lined up.

This is normal. It’s happened to all of us before. So remember to breath. You will survive and you will eventually get a job.

Take each day one day at a time, and enjoy this season in your young life…and remember to get busy blogging.

How To Kill Boredom In Fargo Once And For All

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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?

Five not-wrong-but-annoying-things you can do on Twitter

I’m addicted to Twitter.

It’s short, sweet, to the point and relevant! It’s such a great way to communicate.

But man is it frustrating when I login to my Twitter account only to see some of my followers completely hijack my Twitter feed because they choose to post random things 50 times in a row.

Here’s an example: you check Twitter and see 50 posts…from the same person.

Annoying. So what does this do?

It ends up flooding my Twitter feed from anything relevant and good.

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I’ve got a solution. I’ve created a guide that you can follow, with five technically not wrong — but annoying — things you can do on Twitter that cause the world to shift out of alignment. These five things are practices you should avoid.

  1. When posting throughout the day, don’t Tweet 50 Tweets all at once. By randomly and strategically Tweeting throughout the day, you’ll gather more followers because you won’t annoy the masses. You’ll get more traction — in terms of relevance — and engage more people.
  2. Tweets with food pics. Okay, this is just gross. I’m guilty of it, just like many Twitter addicts. Enough said.
  3. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. If you follow a Twitter account that looks naughty and share their content, you could potentially look silly. If it looks subjective, then it probably is. Plus, no one likes to get a call or email from your social media manager asking, “did you know that you shared a inappropriate photo of Kim Kardashian…again?” Avoid those touchy conversations.
  4. Political Tweets. Be kind here. If you’re complaining about various political candidates via Twitter and it’s perceived as negative, then it’s negative. No one likes a “Negative Nelly” or a “Debbie Downer.” Be kind, be high level and be encouraging.
  5. Be creative and original. Don’t post the same stuff all the time. Tweet about a run or walk or a great coffee shop meeting. Engage people on Twitter with what you’re passionate about. Don’t Tweet the same stuff all the time.