I was recently interviewed by a student working on a marketing project, and he asked me for some advice about getting ahead in the world of marketing. It's a question I get a lot from students. My answer is easy! Keep learning and keep listening.
Seems obvious to me now, but as a sparky young 21-year-old graduate I thought I'd already "made it." I graduated and landed my first job doing marketing and PR for a major retailer back in my homeland (Scotland). As I smugly stood by the fax machine firing off press releases to the news desks at local newspapers and magazines, I thought studying was behind me. And I had a framed piece of paper to prove it!
Fast forward to 2013, and I don't even know if we have a fax machine at the office any more.
My point? Nobody told me that my job would evolve from planning advertising campaigns and sending news releases (I'm oversimplifying, but you get the point) to managing multiple transactional websites with integrated databases and automated e-mail systems.
The term "social media" didn't exist back then. I had no idea that Facebook or Twitter would one day enable multi-way dialogue among my company, customers and vendors, providing new promotional opportunities and service tools.
I'd never heard of the term "UX/UI," and I wrongly assumed that the IT department would take care of everything computer-related. Let's face it. I didn't even have a mobile phone, and I thought Apple was a healthy snack and a tablet was a form of fudge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablet_(confectionery).
So if I knew nothing of these marketing tools and techniques, how did I end up leading a talented team of professionals across all of these new marketing disciplines? I realized (sadly) that I didn't know everything and that studying wasn't behind me.
I learned to keep learning.
I ask questions. I read. I participate in webinars. I attend conferences. I network. I constantly look for new ways to enhance the guest experience (another buzzword in the industry now). I soak up what my colleagues, vendors, partners and the people who use our product say. I even draw inspiration and knowledge from experts in radically different industries because they can offer me fresh perspective. Notice the change of tense. All of this is still happening. Every single day!
To all the grads out there getting ready to leave the studying behind, be ready to keep learning. And not to blow your first paycheck before paying your rent!