It’s college graduation season! Graduation caps are flying through the air, names are being mispronounced, and awkward questions about future careers are being asked. What’s missing? A crash course when it comes to what marketing students actually need to know to enter the real world of marketing.
Unfortunately, featuring your fancy new diploma with the words “B.S. in Marketing” does more for fantastic graduation photos than it does for fantastic post-grad jobs. The sad truth is that most marketing students aren’t adequately prepared for the real world.
To all you current and future marketing students, here’s a list of 20 things, under the umbrella of five key categories, of what you actually need to know before entering theprofessional marketing world. The list is a collection of advice from current members of the HubSpot marketing team — including full-time marketing professionals who have graduated in years past as well as marketing interns who are graduating this year or in the future.
1. Don’t be afraid of numbers.
I can’t tell you how many students I’ve come across who tell me they avoid taking any classes that involve quantitative analysis or statistics. News flash: marketers need statistics. You need to be prepared to analyze everything you do. Don’t use the excuse that you plan on being a “social media marketer.” I’m on the HubSpot social media team, and I spend every single day looking at and interpreting charts and graphs. You need to be able to look at a spreadsheet of numbers, make the proper calculations, and analyze what they mean. Otherwise, you’re wasting a whole lot of time making decisions without proof that they work and/or benefit your business in some way. So pay attention in stats.
2. It’s not all about the Four P’s and C’s of Marketing.
Whether your marketing classes preach the P’s or C’s of Marketing, it doesn’t matter. While they can help introduce you to the core concepts of marketing, the chances of you dealing with a real-world marketing situation by brainstorming how you meet price, product, place, and promotion is unrealistic. You need to be thinking about much more, which will come in later parts of this list.
3. Your classroom doesn’t teach you to think on your feet.
Simulate “real-life” scenarios as much as you want, but you won’t actually learn to make important decisions in tight time frames until you’re managing real dollars, working to uphold a real company’s reputation, and investing your energy in real projects. You can’t practice it either. You have to be there and do it a few times, and then you’ll learn. Use internships as an opportunity to do this, which takes us to our next section.
4. Having an internship on your resume isn’t “impressive.”
You had a summer internship at a marketing agency last summer? Great! So did everybody else. The fact that you had an internship is not impressive, it’s what you did while you were there that is (or isn’t). Students have accepted this false notion that even if you’re just answering phones, the fact that you had some big company’s name on your resume will get you a job. It might get you in the door for an interview, but if you can’t share the benefit you provided to the company, you won’t be seen as a valuable resource.
5. Prove your value and capability.
On the topic of using internships to think on your feet, don’t be afraid to take initiative either at your first job or internship. Don’t just let your boss tell you what to do. I once had a professor ask my class, “How many of you would dare say something against your boss?” I was the only student to raise my hand. If you think your boss is wrong, there’s nothing wrong with speaking up — so long as you do so respectfully and with sound reasoning to back yourself up. You’re never going to learn if you just take what people tell you for granted. The same goes for professors. I once started a “marketing war” with one my professors by debating his suggestions. Which one of us was right, no one can say, but the value we both got from discussing our opinions was much greater than knowing who was right.