Stepping away from the relative safety of school into a career in marketing is intimidating enough as it is what with the external expectation that you will immediately turn into Don Draper, constantly pitching clients and swilling scotch. However, there is something just a little more intimidating about starting your career in the relative unknown that is the digital marketing space.
1) We Definitely Didn’t Cover This in School
Before starting at PMG, I graduated with a nice shiny marketing degree from the number one ranked undergraduate business school in the country, and I had never even heard of Search Engine Marketing or Internet Marketing for that matter. A fantastic education that ensured I was equipped to manage atmospherics at the happiest place on Earth, or run brand management for a multinational company, was seriously lacking in applicable information about anything related to marketing in the online space. Unless you count an hour long social media seminar led by an 83 year old retired professor as adequate training in the field.
Realizing that, though you’re technically working in the same field as your degree, most everything you need to know about digital marketing will need to be self-taught or learnt on the job can be a somewhat tough pill to swallow. However, the knowledge that most everyone is in the same place as you definitely helps to take some of the sting out.
2) IHNIWYTA (I Have No Idea What You’re Talking About)
Imagine that on your first day of your first real job you walk into the office to discover everyone only speaks Latin (never mind that it’s a dead language). That’s about what it’s like your first day in a digital agency. CPC, AOV, CTR, RLSA, CVR, KPIs, RPC, SERPs, it’s a never-ending stream of random letter amalgamations. Everything is an acronym and no matter how fluent you are in English it doesn’t easily translate into Latin and it doesn’t easily translate into acronym. Your best bet is to hunker down and immerse yourself in this new language. Talk to coworkers, read industry blogs, jot down every word you don’t know and surreptitiously look it up when you’re back at the privacy of your own desk. Find a way to become as fluent as you are in English, including the occasional use of acronyms.
3) The Neverending Story
This job is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That’s not to say that we work all the time, but instead that if we wanted to we could. It’s hard to know where to draw the line when the work never stops and is always available. Onboarding a new client? Keywords, ads, and sitelinks can all be uploaded just as easily at 2am as at 10am. Have a report due to a client at 9am? Luckily we can just as easily start work at 7 as we can at 9. There are always more optimizations to make, more tests to run, and more emails to respond to. Deciding when the job is done relies more on one’s ability to determine when they’ve reached a satisfactory place rather than when you actually “finish” working. If you work until everything is “done” you will never stop working.
4) Wait… What Happened?
The beauty and terror of the digital space is that it is constantly evolving. There are very few fields where what is gospel one week is an antiquated thought a few days later, and in digital marketing, that seems to be the case almost every week. Some people find it intimidating to jump into an arena where they don’t know the rules and will have to relearn them with a dizzying frequency, but that’s what makes the field great. You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel because there’s a new invention all the time, why reinvent when you can innovate.
5) “So What Exactly Do You Do?”
Everyone hates this question, but I’ve found it infinitely hard to explain everything we do at PMG to people unfamiliar with the space (AKA everyone I know). We create beautiful display banners, optimize web pages, develop new programs, deal with complex statistics, manage social media campaigns, mediate with vendors, and so much more. When your cohort is talking about the one thing they do at their job or the one service their company offers it is extremely gratifying to be able to talk about the wide array of services PMG offers and every employee is welcomed to learn about and explore. Though, at times, having a prepared elevator speech would definitely come in handy.