By Kim Ngan Le
Having been born a first-generation Australian with immigrant parents who value good education, I was always pushed to perform the best academically. Against their will for me to study Medicine or Law, I’m currently completing my double bachelor’s degree in Business and Information Technology, majoring in Marketing and Enterprise Systems Development at the University of Technology, Sydney.
At the age of 14 I got my first job working at a local fast food joint. Since then, I’ve worked several casual roles in different industries including retail, call centers, data companies, accessibility services and events. But none of which sparked a profound interest.
As one of the countless number of students approaching their final years of tertiary studies, it was only natural for me to begin to contemplate about which career path I should take. It wasn’t until my 4th year at university that I discovered digital marketing was the perfect bridge between my two university degrees. The more I researched about the industry, the more intrigued I became. For those students who are looking to get started in digital marketing, these are the steps I took which I believe helped me get my first job in digital marketing, and I don’t doubt that it will help you too.
Start a blog or website
If you don’t already have a blog or website, start one! If you’re a beginner, blogs are super easy to make, they’re free, and anyone can do it. WordPress is a great platform to use for both blogs and websites and having one will allow you to practice and improve your design, SEO, social media, basic programming and marketing skills. Your employers will also look upon it favourably! What better way to showcase to your employer your head start and passion for the industry than having your own published content? I’ve always been a big fan of Korean pop music (K-pop) and I collect merchandise including albums, photo cards, posters and DVDs. I created my own website to buy, sell and trade merchandise as well as host ‘group orders’ where my friends and other fans can use my service to order their merchandise for a cheaper price than if they were to order individually. The steps towards making a website may seem daunting, but I can assure you it’s not that difficult. The HTML and CSS skills I’ve learnt at university assisted me in the creation of my website. However, learning how to host a website and use third-party applications was mainly through self-study and a lot of research online. There’s a tonne of free resources and tutorials available on the Internet to help you create your first website. If you’re interested in learning HTML and CSS, w3schools is the best place to start.
Don’t just rely on what you’ve learnt at university
Marketing subjects at university teach very broad concepts and usually don’t delve deep enough into digital marketing. After completing my Information Technology degree, I realised I didn’t excel in programming and would most likely have a hard time pursuing a career path as a developer. I decided in my 4th year at university that I wanted to pursue a career in digital marketing. However, my knowledge about the vast number of positions and services related to digital marketing was extremely limited. In my degree, the elective subject Digital Marketing and Social Media is the only subject which concentrates on digital marketing concepts. Because the options for digital marketing subjects available were limited, I found it difficult to acquire an in-depth knowledge about digital concepts. It would be highly beneficial for students like myself who are interested in the digital world if universities could incorporate more core digital marketing subjects in their curriculums. Apart from your education, employers look highly upon previous work experience, no matter what it is. Offering your services for little or no cost is one way to get some recommendations and work experience for your resume. Also, being a member of a club or society at university also shows employers that you are not afraid to communicate with others and be a part of a team.
Search for opportunities yourself
The world of digital marketing is constantly growing and is extremely competitive. With a lot of entry or intern marketing positions nowadays looking for interns or graduates with ‘at least 2 years previous marketing experience required’, it’s a small wonder why many students like myself are finding it difficult to get our foot in the door in the digital marketing industry. UTS’s Careers service does a wonderful job at providing job opportunities for students studying in other business-related fields such as finance and accounting, but not so much for marketing. If you’re really looking to get a job in digital marketing, you need to search for opportunities yourself. If there are companies that you are interested in and want to work for, do some research about their services and reach out to them about their available positions.
Grasp every opportunity
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and grasp every opportunity that comes your way. I received an email one day from UTS Careers services about Digital Cadets, a free one-day digital marketing event, hosted by Indago Digital. I didn’t have to think twice about applying because digital marketing events and opportunities don’t come by very often and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about digital marketing from industry professionals. I passed all application rounds and attended the event earlier this year held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 11th May 2018. The event provided me with a great opportunity to network with other students interested in digital marketing as well as business professionals from Indago Digital, Google, Randstad, and ADMA. The students I grouped up with for the day were extremely intelligent and kind, some with whom I still keep in touch. Overall, the event was a lot of fun, very insightful and taught me things that I had not previously heard about or been taught at university.
My first digital marketing job with Indago Digital
A few weeks after the event, I reached out to Indago Digital to provide feedback for the event as well as inquire about their current positions and internships. A staff member was quick to respond, and I had an interview scheduled for the following week. The first part of the interview process was with the Managing Director, Gary, to get to know more about me. I then proceeded onto the second step, which involved a skills test to examine if I was a good fit for the role. I was able to successfully pass the test and began my internship at Indago Digital not long after.
After working several different jobs since the age of 14, perseverance and consistently forcing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to obtain my first job in digital marketing. Although studying at university provided me with the basics of marketing, almost everything I’ve learnt so far at Indago Digital is not able to be learnt at university.
To those students who are still hoping to get started in digital marketing, my advice to you is to be enthusiastic about the industry, build your own brand with your blog or website, keep searching for opportunities, and when opportunities arise, be sure to grab them.
Kim is currently a full-time 4th year student studying BA Business and BA Science in Information Technology at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is also currently working as a Content Distribution Manager at Indago Digital. As a hobby, she also runs her own K-Pop business and website. Connect with Kim on LinkedIn.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash