Student life often isn’t complete without a side hustle, and universities are packed with opportunities for professional development. Part time bar work, tutoring, peer mentoring, student union or course reps, open day ambassadors, you name it.
Often these roles don’t require a lot of travel, pay higher than the minimum wage, and allow you to build on your subject knowledge. But these jobs have a downside no one tells you about: you graduate with no industry experience, and no professional network, the two most valuable things a new grad needs to start their career.
In this situation, getting into digital marketing with no experience seems impossible, but when you’re without technical skills, you need to squeeze all the value that you can out of your transferable skills.
So, with all of this in mind at university I became a peer mentor. I would recommend this option to anyone looking to try and get more experience at university, as I believe it helped me get into my first graduate position!
What peer mentoring taught me
Anyone who’s ever been a peer mentor will know that there’s a great deal of variety pastoral or academic, one on one or in groups, in person or long distance. But there are also a lot of things in common: You learn to communicate with students using email or social media, give them advice, you may organise meetings, talk to academic staff, problem solve, deal with room booking or timetabling problems.
With a bit of creativity and a fresh perspective, you can use these skills to get your first digital marketing job.
Turning peer mentoring into digital marketing experience
If you want to get into any type of marketing, then creativity is key. So it’s necessary to look at your past responsibilities from a different perspective and demonstrate why they’re relevant. Your job search is basically learning to successfully market yourself. Let’s take a look at the skills I already mentioned and see what we can make of them.
Did you talk to mentees over social media or email? Then you’ve ‘communicated with clients over various digital channels’. Give some evidence – did you improve someone’s grades? Did you persuade someone to do something?
Feedback from your mentees (or from your supervisor) will be necessary to answer some of these questions, and you should get as much of it as you can. Using feedback from customers or clients is an important aspect of marketing, and you may already have that basic skill.
Did you try your best to make your advice relevant and useful? That’s ‘optimising content for a target audience’, one of the basic SEO skills. Bonus points if you’ve ever asked for feedback and used it to make changes!
Maybe you’ve used Blackboard somehow – that’s evidence of digital literacy and content management.
Turning your mentoring skills into something that hiring managers want to see in digital marketers is difficult when you don’t know what they want. If you’re like me then you certainly weren’t thinking about that when you were still at university.