After completing your degree and getting the qualifications to start your first job, it can be difficult to actually secure your first role. Knowing what position to go for and which places to apply can be daunting. For example, if you did a journalism degree there are lots of avenues to go down. You might consider working as the dedicated content creator, in the digital promotion of the news articles or alternatively, as a reporter or press contact. Opportunities are (almost) endless and hard to sought through.
Since studying media studies in college and like most young teens having a love-love relationship with social media, I knew I wanted to build on my digital knowledge and get stuck into marketing. I invite you to read about my first year working as a Digital Marketing Assistant.
How I Got The Role
Before securing the role I have now, I started as a Digital Marketing apprentice. I was lucky to get in with a company that let apprentices get hands on and because of this I got plenty of experience under my belt.
I began by creating blog content and social media posts. Then, I started work on Google AdWords campaigns and WordPress websites, optimising the on-page content and metadata with key SEO practices: all of which was new to me. I was well and truly thrown in the deep end.
Thankfully, I tend to pick up on processes quickly and use my initiative to build my knowledge on the latest marketing tactics and best practices. Being an apprentice, I was required to attend college weekly. Although my college course taught me the theory behind what I was doing, it was slightly outdated in some cases. For that reason, going to University could have probably treated me better, giving me a deeper initial understanding. Nethertheless, my apprenticeship helped me get where I am today.
Tip: Get experience. I know getting a job at a local club, bar or restaurant can seem like a good idea and perhaps money wise it is. However, doing work experience in an agency or local business can give you chance to work in a ‘real life’ marketing situation and hence can be an eye-opener to whether you like that work or not.
What My Role Includes
So, after completing my level 3 in Digital Marketing, which is A-Level equivalent, it was time to apply for an employee role. This took me to digital marketing agency Kanuka Digital, sister agency of eCommerce Web developers, iWeb. They were pleased with my experience on a range of different marketing activities and so, were eager to see how I could put my skills to use within their business.
Tip: Reiterating the previous tip, experience is a key aspect of getting a job in general. Particularly within marketing, I see lots of jobs requiring at least 1 year in marketing and thus, getting involved by volunteering for a business or similar, will strengthen your chances of being “employable”.
I started by completing basic, yet strictly important, tasks like keyword research, blog content writing and completing outreach to influencers – similar to before. However, the first thing I noticed were the processes were completely different.
Tip: If you start as a Digital Marketing Assistant and are given “basic” tasks like ‘complete keyword research’, don’t feel put down. I’ve learnt that what seems like the simplest tasks are actually fundamental aspects to major marketing tactics.
The business was much more professional and helped me to be organised and understand the time I’d have to allocate for each task and similar. This is something I didn’t really grasp with me not going to Uni. I wasn’t required to juggle my social life, lecture time and external study time like my friends at University had to. For this reason, I was set back slightly.
However, to help me get up to speed, in my first few weeks I was required to go through some basic training courses on the tools they use and other important platforms in the industry. I began by developing my PPC skills further by taking the Google AdWords certifications. Even though at the time I wasn’t working on any PPC accounts, it was something they were keen for me to do.
Tip: If you have access to Google AdWords, Analytics or similar, take the training courses. Spend time going through and understanding the platforms and how you use them. Even if you don’t end up working on them in the future, they contain some tools and principles that you can apply to other marketing tactics. Hence, it’s extremely useful.
Plus, showing willingness to learn is a bonus for any employer.
How Has My Job Role Evolved?
Sometimes it’s the company that you’re in that allows you to grow, sometimes it’s the employee you are and the contribution you bring to the business. In my case, I think I’ve been lucky to benefit from both.
After a few months, I had gained a firm grip on the basics. At this time we were also at the stage of getting more clients on board and hence I was given some more responsibility with more work coming in. I ended up branching out to the following:
- Google AdWords Campaign Management
- Social Campaign Creation (and monitoring)
- Graphic creation
- Creating blog content and outreach articles
- Influencer Marketing
- (Slightly more) Technical SEO
- Google Analytics Reporting
- Email Marketing
As you can tell, I got stuck in with a lot. Each task was different but the importance of executing each was vital to ensure efforts were going to both generate success as well as giving the client peace of mind. And so, I further urge Uni grads to swot up on their skills during their University course.
Don’t think it’s adequate to do this once you’ve got the job. If you complete training beforehand, you’ll be more appealing to employers as well as ensuring that once in the role, you are a useful team member.
I understand that not every Digital Marketing role is within an agency and so you could be brought in to work in a specific area which, if that’s what you’re most interested in, is great. Stick to enhancing your skills in this area. However for me, with so many clients requiring a whole range of marketing tactics, I was subjected to an array of tasks. This meant I could venture down different marketing avenues that have helped build my employee profile and give me lots of experience.
How I Continue To Grow My Skills
Once you’ve secured your first job role and stuck it out for 6-8 months, you’ll want to keep building on your skills. Often practice makes perfect, so trial different angles to go at when carrying out your marketing efforts. I safely did this by starting my own blog: ok Kate.
This way I wasn’t in danger of damaging a client’s online reputation when experimenting with other ways of approaching marketing campaigns. Plus, it also meant that I could really see if everything I was preaching, worked. 2 months later, I’m confident it is.
Tip: You don’t have to pay a penny to create your own blog. Sites like Wix.com and the free version of WordPress mean that you can still practice new marketing skills without feeling obliged to spend your wages on “more work”.
If you find creating your own blog would be “work”, then don’t do it. Explore other ways of practicing your skills. Ask if you can use the company’s Google Analytics account to run A/B tests and similar.
This is something that any good digital agency will already do. It means they can test their marketing methods before going ahead with them. Spending a bit of extra time playing about with these tools could lead to some insightful findings.
Am I Happy In A Digital Career?
A big question that I get asked, is “am I happy doing Digital Marketing?” The answer is a huge yes! I’ve honestly learnt so much and with being in an industry that’s constantly evolving, I’m open to so many new challenges due to the multiple technology changes we see, that make my role so diverse and exciting.
In some ways, it can be seen as slightly daunting having to continuously refresh my skills and adapt to new tactics that come along, but it keeps my mind healthily ticking away. Plus, it means I am able to get out of the office to attend conferences, visit new places and meet new people.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, by working in a small agency I am able to get hands on in a wide range of marketing tactics which over my first year, has helped me find which area I prefer working in. From finding this out, I can look at specialising in my desired field in the future. So far, I feel like I’ll end up venturing into becoming a Social Media Specialist or Content Marketing Specialist.
Whether I do or don’t, I know I’m not in a dead-end job. I have a bucket load of opportunities open to me that I can take and run away with.
My Biggest Achievements
I’ve spoken a lot about the kinds of work I’ve been subjected to and some useful points Uni grads can take with them related to this. However, proof is in the pudding, right? So, here are my biggest achievements in my first year working as a Digital Marketing Assistant:
- I completed the dotmailer training course which enabled Kanuka Digital and iWeb become dotmailer partners.
- Likewise, I completed the intensive Google Academy training to help Kanuka Digital and iWeb become Google Partners.
- I have published not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 guest posts on Social Media Week. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this site, it’s one of the world’s premier conferences and industry news platforms for professionals in media, marketing and technology.
- A tweet promoting a blog post I’d created was retweeted by Magento’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrea Ward. (Magento is a platform partner agency, iWeb, use to build highly advanced eCommerce sites.)
I know I’ve tried to give some tips throughout this article but for the sake of summaries. Here are 3 key points that you should take away with you.
What Advice I’d Give
- Get some experience under your belt. Whether it’s paid work experience or volunteering for an agency. Make sure you’re doing something that will not only stand out to employers for being proactive, but will help you develop your skills and put your Uni findings into practice.
- Complete training courses in your own time. The first course I recommend everyone goes through is the Google Digital Garage certification. Once you’ve done this, look at the training docs for Google Adwords, Google Analytics and similar.
- Create your own blog and keep it active. It doesn’t have to be related to digital marketing – mine isn’t. It’s just a great way of you practicing your skills and deepening your understanding of online marketing methods.