By Felicia Guthrie
Life after graduation can be a mixture of emotions. You can be filled with excitement, anxiety, and a whole range of emotions in between. Navigating the industry as a new grad can feel intimidating. This time last year I was fresh out of school and searching for an internship, now, a year later, I look back at the last three years and there are lessons that I learned that you don’t learn from a textbook or a lecture. Here are a few things that are valuable for anyone starting a new career and even a new business as an entrepreneur.
The connections you make are so important
The bottom line is not to underestimate the relationships you’ve built with your peers and your mentors.
Networking is very important in this industry. As a natural introvert, networking, particular at events, can be draining and intimidating. Admittedly, at my first event, I didn’t approach many potential employers. It felt awkward. I went away from the event feeling as though I didn’t gain much. I was holding myself back. I’ve found that networking with a peer, particularly one who’s more extroverted, lessens the pressure and makes the situation less intimidating.
The connections that you make offer you valuable, lasting relationships, such as those with your peers who become your friends. They also offer you opportunities as well.
During my first week of classes, my program coordinator told our class that our peers and our connections with them could and would likely play an important role in our future careers. This is hands down one of the most important lessons I learned. I always thought that who you know helps to get your foot in the door. Now, I cannot stress enough how true this is.
I attribute almost all of the opportunities I’ve been given to two things, the hard work I’ve put in and the positive connections I’ve made with my instructors and peers.
Work, Live, Play
When creating a strategy for your marketing campaign, target your consumers based on where they work, live and play. Where your audience plays refers to where they spend their leisure time. Maybe they enjoy parks or pubs, live sports, the mall or the movies.
If you’re a small business owner or starting on a new career path in marketing, these three words are simple to remember when you’re researching your audience and thinking about your marketing strategies. Thinking of where your audience works, lives and plays, helps to paint a picture of someone in your target market and what kind of marketing may resonate with them. Thinking of where your typical consumers work, live and play, can help you strategize how to reach potential consumers and where to reach them. For example, if you’re an emerging health brand, targeting consumers where they work, live and play may include placing ads close to gyms along commuter routes and/or placing marketing materials in health and recreational stores.
Every chance to do more is an opportunity
Each task or project can be viewed as an opportunity to grow, learn, and to improve. As a student, I viewed extracurricular projects and my work as an opportunity to show my abilities, strengthen my skills, and advance myself. The same can be said for your small business. For example, going the extra mile, or step for your customers can go a long way, it’s an opportunity to grow your business by creating strong relationships, exceeding expectations and learning new things. I have seen brands and businesses, even small businesses, take small pieces of info and use them as an opportunity to WOW the consumer. Here are some examples, I’ve come across:
- After posting on socials about how much they love a brand, others, as well as myself, have been offered small thank yous from the brands, they range from coupons to gift packages.
- A Toronto boutique gives small gifts to consumers for various reasons, as a thank-you, as a congratulations for anniversaries, and even as a little “Happy Birthday” gift.
These brands/businesses have found a unique opportunity to engage with their clients and connect with them. From these connections you can build meaningful relationships.
Have passion projects
During the last semester, we had to conduct an informational interview with someone from the industry, which is when I met Steven, a freelance Art Director and Illustrator who worked at several agencies such as Wunderman. One of the things Steven stressed to me the most was that in his opinion, everyone should have passion projects.
Passion projects help you balance work by giving you something to work on that you’re doing purely for enjoyment. Passion projects don’t need to have goals and restrictions on them, they can just be something that makes you happy. Happiness is always good for your health and well-being.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, passion projects can provide opportunities and open doors for you. When you enjoy doing something and have a passion for it, it shows. This can open up a world of opportunities for you. Take for instance, the influencer. So many people started passion projects or hobbies such as blogging (through blog writing websites, Instagram, or Youtube) and are now influencers. These influencers now get to not only share their passion with others, but they also get some pretty sweet perks (money and products!) just doing what they love. Etsy is full of creators who turned their passion projects, such as jewelry making, into a small business, and you can do that too.
After working in the industry for a year, I feel like this was valuable advice and has given me food for thought. What am I passionate about? What would I like to work on for ME? These are questions I’ve been asking myself.
So, what are you doing for yourself? What projects are you doing out of passion?
Ask yourself these questions.
You need to be constantly learning
Innovation, tech, and shifts in consumer habits can positively or negatively impact brands. The world is constantly changing, customers expect more, and some markets are becoming over saturated from new competitors and products, so it can be tricky for brands to stay relevant amidst a constantly evolving market.
One of the most common reasons that brands fail or become irrelevant is because they become stagnant. As a professional, continually learning is also an investment in yourself. There are various way you can continue to learn, such as researching trends and innovations in your industry, attending relevant classes – in person or online, reading relevant articles, books and guides, attending industry events, and speaking to others in your field.
You’re capable of more than you know
You never know what you’re capable of until you push yourself, and that’s rewarding. Never underestimate yourself and your abilities. Set goals and challenge yourself and you’ll not only grow and learn new skills, you’ll also learn about yourself. Working hard at school and/or in the workplace can really test your limits and show you what you’re made of.
Getting a job can be SO hard, but don’t give up
Securing a job, even an unpaid internship, can be difficult and discouraging. When you’re competing with your peers, other graduates and even those with years of experience, it’s both difficult to stand out and the process is intimidating. While I was excited to see my friends securing their internships, I still felt upset. Why wasn’t I getting interviews? I was sending out resume and cover letter after resume and cover letter, I was a great student, I had a bit of experience via my campus job but still, I had trouble. For about month or so I didn’t hear back much, I was feeling nervous and anxious, discouraged and disappointed.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you feel stuck and even more so when you see others around you moving forward. It’s okay to feel upset, it’s natural. What you do with that frustration or negative feeling is what’s important. You can look at it as a challenge and an obstacle to get over or you can let it defeat you. You never know when an opportunity will arise, some things take their time. My advice would be to set a goal, keep working at it, and remember that networking can be super helpful to you. Those who you’ve nurtured positive relationships with can also be helpful.
Do you want to know more about entering the industry? Leave your questions or comments in the comments below. Alternatively, if you want to know more about marketing for your business, reach out to us at SongBird today!