Hey LOAMG Community,
My name is Jennifer and I currently work as a Customer Marketing and Experience Associate at a Fortune 500 company in the energy industry. I manage email marketing campaigns, use copywriting to increase brand awareness and expand our customer base, and analyze customer survey insights to identify opportunities for improving the overall customer experience journey. I’ve been in this role for almost one year and have learned so much about the energy industry, regulations, and connecting with customers through digital channels.
I didn’t always want to work in Marketing. To be honest, my initial career goal was to go into fashion design, but after exploring career options as a Fashion Merchandising major, I wasn’t convinced that going down that path would yield the best job prospects for me–so, I had to pivot. Instead, I looked into business schools and decided that marketing was an industry in which I could learn transferable skills and utilize my creativity (best of both worlds!)
Who doesn’t want to land their dream job right after graduation? Like many other students, I remember stressing about whether or not I’d be hired for a marketing job right after finishing college. I graduated from Rutgers University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and English. Ideally, I wanted to work in the city at a marketing agency, but it didn’t turn out that way. The journey to securing my first marketing role was two years in the making and a pretty unconventional one at that.
My first internship was as a part-time Public Relations intern with a health insurance company. At the same time, I was working at another part-time internship at a non-profit organization as a Marketing intern. Now, here’s the kicker after graduating, I accepted a role as a Customer Service Intern at a different health insurance company which, interestingly enough, turned into a full-time role. At the time, I had no other job offers lined up and wasn’t even sure what area of marketing I wanted to work in specific, so my best bet was to accept this position. In each of these jobs, I learned both what I enjoyed and what I did not see myself doing long term. My job as a customer service agent eventually revealed to me the area of marketing that I wanted to get into. It all started when I thought back to a course I took in college called Consumer Behaviuor. In this class, we learned about the Customer Journey and the reason behind consumers’ interactions with brands. This, in particular, intrigued me, and after spending my days talking to customers, resolving their problems, and positively impacting their experience with the company, I realized I wanted to explore Customer Marketing/Customer Experience. Once I nailed this down and got specific about what I wanted to pursue in marketing, I became laser-focused in my job search and it became much easier to find jobs that aligned with my goal. Helpful hint: this right here, is the key to finding your answer to the burning question: “what do I want to do?”
The most important lesson that I learned from working in customer service was that it’s one of the most difficult jobs in a company. I spoke to members every day, sometimes in person, and resolved health insurance claims, billing, and benefits issues. Although working in customer service wasn’t my dream job in the least bit, it challenged me and allowed me to gain experience interacting with customers first-hand, training new hires on my team, and understanding the healthcare industry as a whole. In hindsight, working in customer service has been one of the most challenging, yet necessary introductions to the corporate world for me.
Pre-marketing/finding a job process
The road to landing my first marketing role was a long one, but very rewarding. I didn’t know it after graduating from college, but I wasn’t ready to enter the marketing world just yet. Gaining experience in a different (and what I initially thought was unrelated) industry, were the crucial stepping stones I needed to prepare me for my current role as a Customer Marketing and Experience Associate. One thing that no one really tells college students is that any experience you get is invaluable. You can learn from any role you are in as long as you remain open-minded and willing to make the most of your circumstances. The opportunities to learn and grow are endless!
My Current Role
As a Customer Marketing and Experience Associate, I’m challenged with being proactive in developing creative and practical ways to improve the customer lifecycle journey. Understanding our customers based on data insights and communicating in a way that resonates with them, is a task that fuels my passion for curating the best customer experience possible. I enjoy making peoples’ lives easier and simplifying otherwise complex ideas. For the average person, energy is like learning a second language. So, my job is to meet the customer where they are in the buyer’s journey and create campaigns, emails, surveys, and other forms of marketing materials that will bring about brand awareness, engage them with our content, and delight existing customers to boost satisfaction. I love what I do because I’m able to add value to peoples’ lives in a creative way.
Key Takeaway Points
With that said, there are several things I learned while being an intern and in my current role that I would love to share with young professionals looking to get into the marketing industry as well. I hope you can take this advice along with you and apply it on your journey!
Be A Sponge
As you maneuver through the “real world” after college, be flexible in your thinking. Truth is, you probably won’t get your dream job right after graduating, but that’s okay! Embrace the uncertainty and learn to trust the process. Every job or assignment you take on will teach you new skills and eventually lead you to the bigger roles that align with your true passions. When starting out in entry-level jobs, don’t be afraid to explore new career avenues that aren’t necessarily what you went to school for. Who says you should be limited by the title on the degree you hold? The options are limitless, so try not to box yourself into one concrete career path. Now is the best time to explore as many career options as you want in order to figure out what works for you!
Set Actionable Goals, But Be Flexible
If you’re a recent college graduate or looking for entry-level marketing roles, it’s important you become clear on what it is you want to do. But that can be a problem–many young professionals don’t know what they want to do, but guess what? That’s completely fine too. If you feel lost or overwhelmed during your job search, remember that it’s ok to try out new things. If you’re hired for a role outside of marketing, don’t be discouraged. Chances are, you’ll learn so much about yourself, develop critical skills that you can apply in future marketing roles, and build your professional experience along the way while earning an income. Win-win situation, no?
Trust Your Journey
You might feel lost in the beginning, but over time, your experiences will become your greatest teachers. You will learn so much about yourself through trial and error, but eventually, you will find where you truly belong. As long as you continue to do your best work in the jobs you take on and keep researching about the vast world of marketing, you will find a space that feels right for you.
Find a Mentor
One of the main differences between my internship in customer service and the previous two was the opportunity to participate in a mentorship program. As you start out in the corporate world, I think it’s important to have a knowledgeable person in your corner to help guide you. I was fortunate to be paired with an amazing woman who had years of experience that I could learn from. When you find a mentor, assume ownership of that relationship and take action with everything they advise. Make sure this individual is someone who is committed to seeing you grow and nurture your potential–an effective mentor is key!
Stay in the Know
Life of a Marketing Girl became one of my favourite accounts to follow because their content resonated with me. While you’re on social media, look out for women doing great things in the marketing, branding, content strategy, and social media marketing spaces, just to name a few. There’s so much to learn out there and you should never stop educating yourself. Read business articles, take free marketing courses on sites like Hubspot.com, find professional marketing or PR associations to join in your area, sign up for webinars with AdWeek, or even subscribe to marketing channels on YouTube. Also, these days there are lots of influencers on Instagram Live hosting free talks about their businesses and sharing tips and strategies that others can use, so take full advantage of these too.
Through it, all, remember that you’re growing into the best version of yourself, and achieving all of your career goals won’t happen overnight (it took me two years before I landed my first marketing job). Finding a career that suits you is an adventure, it’s challenging, and can be stressful at times, but as long as you trust your individual journey and what’s meant for you, the job you want will naturally make its way to you at the right time. Just keep learning, be open to new opportunities, study those who have been where you want to go, and approach life after college with a new level of maturity and fresh perspective.
Resources that have been helpful for me that I recommend (mostly US resources)
Marketing/Branding Accounts to Follow on Instagram: @theccnyc, @afro_eclectic, @junaebrown, @abufofanah, @yasminebedward, @prgirlmanifesto, @thefabgrad, @mahdiwoodard, @thevoguide, @iammichaeladdit, @shortscollaborative, @bransolute, @allyhires
Podcasts: Real AF with Andy Frisella, Secret to Success with Eric Thomas, Pray Plan Slay, The Modern Customer, Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner, TED Business, Mission Daily, The GaryVee Audio Experience, The Tai Lopez Sho