The following article will be published in September in the Philly Ad News magazine:
You are not entitled to a job. This fact came as quite a surprise to many of the 1,300 plus college students I spoke with at the 30th Annual American Marketing Association International Collegiate Conference on the topic of “Success Strategies for Your Marketing Career” in New Orleans this past spring.
When crafting the presentation, I reached out to my professional network to find out the most critical skills they thought are needed by graduates today. It came through loud and clear that managers think this generation believes they are owed something from their employers.
Students face so many challenges as they enter the work force. In some ways, it seems these graduates have it much harder than I did when I graduated in 1990. For one, we didn’t have to contend with social networking sites ruining careers before they even begin.
It was so refreshing to listen to their questions and concerns and see how serious most of them were about what it takes to truly be a success in this business. Many said they are not being taught these lessons at their universities. Shouldn’t schools should provide more of this real-world training?
There was no shortage of opinions offered by various employers with whom I spoke. First and foremost, writing and communication ability was the primary thing graduates need. With texting so prevalent, students don’t realize this is not an acceptable way to communicate with their bosses or clients. That fact generated the largest audible grown from the audience.
Email etiquette. It’s more than an acceptable way to communicate – it’s the way we all communicate. As I have unfortunately learned a few times myself, email has the ability to “throw you under the bus.” But more importantly, I stressed the need for personal communications. No one is developing a long-term, solid relationship on email – we all need to pick up the phone a little more.
Find a mentor. I would not have made it to this point in my career without the many mentors I’ve had along the way. But even more importantly, once we have the experience, we should all give back by mentoring and sharing what we’ve learned.
Learn the industry – own your brand. Whether you’re at an agency or client-side, being an expert in the industry is critical. It is one of the things that helps you stand out from your colleagues. A company’s brand and image is its most valuable asset and successful graduates will embrace this concept wholeheartedly.
Take risks and learn from your mistakes. It is through risks that we learn how we want to live our lives and be happy. Taking the safe road isn’t going to get you far. One colleague said, “Own up to your limits and mistakes. If you can’t do something, admit it and learn from it. It’s worse to promise when you can’t deliver.” As an account management specialist, no words have ever rung so true. I shared many mistakes I’ve made in my career with the students which made the examples a little more “real.” After all, we’re all human.
Clean up your MySpace and Facebook accounts. No one wants to see their great new hire half naked and drunk all over the Internet. This seemed lost on many of the students there. I suppose until they get rejected for the job they really want, they won’t get it completely.
Learn through travel. It is through experiencing the world that we expand our own horizons and understanding of each other’s similarities and differences. I didn’t have the opportunity to travel upon graduating, but I stressed that if they could, they should.
Speaking of travel, it was great to be back in the Big Easy. The city is on the rebound. I’ve never been to a place where so many people thanked me for being there and for supporting their city. The Quarter is cleaner than I ever remember. If you have the opportunity – please go and support their recovery efforts.
This trip brought my career full circle for me as I was fortunate to attend this conference when I was a senior at Temple. It was a joy to go back as a presenter and I can’t wait for another po’ boy at Mother’s next March at the 31st Annual conference.