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Marketing opportunities for college grads

Q: My daughter is entering college in the fall of 2010. She thinks she may be interested in Marketing or Communications. I am concerned that these are fields which may offer limited opportunities when she graduates. Can you share any insight?

A: I commend you on your interest and concern regarding your daughter's college education and beyond. My guess is that you want to ensure that your daughter makes a sound choice in her field of study so ultimately this choice leads to a solid career path path after she graduates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the competition for these roles is fierce. Further, the BLS explains that "College graduates with related experience, a high level of creativity, and strong communication and computer skills should have the best job opportunities." The BLS continues to explain that employees that land in these roles should expect "high earnings, substantial travel, and long hours, including evenings and weekends." In terms of future job opportunities, there is some modest growth expected in marketing roles. Overall, BLS has projected that opportunities in marketing are expected to increase by 13 percent in through 2018.

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Marketing and communications are indeed exciting disciplines. Marketing, like many disciplines, has been impacted by many technological influences. Email, websites, social networking, webinars, podcast, blogs and online advertising have all influenced the world of marketers.

Many feel like the world of online or digital marketing offers the most promising opportunities to recent college graduates with marketing degrees. I have observed this trend with many of my clients. There seems to be an increased demand for those marketing professionals that have interactive or online experience.

Ben Zipkin, Director of Digital Marketing at Cambridge BioMarketing offers your daughter this advice:

While it can be difficult for recent grads to "break-in," there are always opportunities for smart, creative, and ambitious people. Marketing agencies and corporate communications offices often offer college internships. These are great opportunities for college students to gain some "hands-on" and practical experience in the field. It is also a good way to test the world of real-life marketing to ensure that it is the type of career that they would enjoy pursuing. An internship is also the best way to pave the way for a post-grad job.

Digital marketing is a unique blend of technology and marketing. Most of the recent college grads that I have seen enter this field successfully have had some type of internship or summer job experience. Sometimes it is working in an agency answering telephones along with observing the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist. The SEO Specialist would likely be analyzing and presenting web traffic statistics. In other roles, the intern may be helping collate presentation materials for a sales team. Working side-by-side with the sales team, the intern is learning the components of an integrated marketing strategy (digital and the more traditional elements of marketing). Encourage your daughter to begin thinking early on how she can gain this type of valuable experience. Often, interns who prove themselves are offered full-time positions after graduation.

Industry can also make a difference. Healthcare, education and professional, scientific and technical services are all expected growth industries. It would be wise for any job seeker to focus on growth industries rather than industries that are expected to shrink or remain flat.



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