Corey Haines
June 18, 2024

How to get a job in marketing

I volunteer on a “marketing advisory board” for a local university.

The point is to hear from practitioners in the real world to help inform and tailor the curriculum for students.

And every year, at the end of the school year, they host “senior portfolio reviews” to connect graduating students with professional marketers to help them with their resume, portfolio, and job search.

So every year I answer the same question several times: “If you were me, how would you go about getting a job in marketing?”

Despite them receiving a college degree with an emphasis on marketing (which I happen to think is a better marketing education that most other universities offer), I always break the same bad news: it’s not enough to have a degree in marketing.

People hiring marketers today want to see that you can actually market something. They want to see the proof. The receipts.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier to demonstrate your marketing abilities without a job. People in marketing, along with programming and design, have a unique opportunity to gain experience without a job.

  • Start a Shopify store and dropship tee shirts.
  • Start a niche blog and see if you can rank on the first page of Google for your target keywords.
  • Start a podcast and interview industry thought leaders.
  • Fork an open source code base and get users.
  • Make a YouTube video about learning a new skill.
  • Flip products you find on OfferUp or eBay.
  • Run some ads to a friend’s Etsy store.
  • Make some posters for a local business and hang them around high traffic areas.
  • Start a community or messaging group for people with a similar interest.
  • Put on a fundraiser for a local nonprofit or church.
  • Rewrite the copy on your favorite product’s website.
  • Make a cheap commercial (or even better: infomercial) for a product you love.
  • Offer to implement a referral program for your favorite coffee shop.
  • Offer to follow around a solopreneur for the day, film what they do, and chop it up into social content.
  • Offer to improve the Google Business and Yelp profiles of a mom and pop store.
  • Offer to set up basic web analytics for a consultant you know.
  • Make a proposal for a new product line of a brand you love.
  • Imagine a product collab with a brand and celebrity and mockup a marketing plan for them.
  • Create launch assets for a recent feature a software tool you love just released.

It doesn’t matter if it costs you money. In fact, it’s better if it does — it shows your commitment and resourcefulness.

It doesn’t matter if it costs you time. Stop worrying about what your time is worth and start doing things that make your time worth more.

It doesn’t matter if what you do is unrelated to what you want to get into. Everything is marketing. It’s all related. It’s all interconnected.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it before. That’s the whole point.

Try. Fail spectacularly. Learn. Iterate. Try again. Fail again. Then try again.

Show your failures, successes, and everything in between. There’s a lot of gray area in marketing.

Show them that you’ve done it.

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