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My 4-Pack of Advice to Recent College Graduates Looking for a (Resort) Marketing Gig

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Over the last few years I’ve been occasionally queried for advice. The vast majority of these requests have come from recent (or soon to be) college graduates.

Full of inspiration from an (likely) overly-dramatic validictorial address, their question usually goes as follows:

“Gregg, I’m about to graduate and I’m looking for my dream job. What advice do you have to help me find it?”

My response is brief:

“Don’t. You won’t find it…at least not anytime soon.”

Let me explain to the students who read SlopeFillers who might have the same questions heading toward the tip of their tongue. Since this applies to all students and it’s all interested parties won’t find a home in skiing, forgive me if I make the “resort” moniker optional for a moment.

First, You’re Not a Marketer
I hate to break it to you, but four years as a Marketing Major does not a marketer make.

They call graduation “commencement” for a reason: it’s not the end of the line, it’s the beginning. All college does is get you a bit more ready for the start of a race.

You don’t become a runner by reading Ultramarathon Man, and you don’t become a marketer by studying the four P’s. To become a runner you must run. To become a marketer you must market.

I tell you this because humility is a valuable ally. Humility can drive you to become something instead of assuming you already are that thing and not ever putting in the work necessary to actually get there.

Second, Your First Product is You
Marketing, in a sentence, is about moving a product. Communicating the value of something to someone with a hope they’ll take it home.

Guess what? An employee is a product. Yep. And an employer? That’s your customer.

The first real-life marketing problem you will face is selling yourself to an employer. It absolutely kills me to see marketing majors use the exact same approach to find a job as a math major.

Write a marketing plan for yourself and you may be surprised how small a role that perfectly polished resume actually plays.

Third, Don’t Get Picky…Get to Work
Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can share is that rarely, if ever, do dream jobs exist right out of college.

Instead, you’ve got a find a marketing job, any job, and put in the work. Hard work. Boring work. Tedious work. Work that makes you want to quit after 6 months. Don’t. Give it a couple years, get crazy good at what you do, and use that success to vault to a bigger, better gig.

There’s a reason all the jobs you highlighted on required 5-10 years of experience. Don’t be picky, just find somewhere to put in the work.

Fourth, Meet People…and Get Good at It
Right now your network consists of fellow students and professors who haven’t actively worked in marketing since they started trying for tenure.

You need to get out, get involved, meet people in the industry you want to work in and do so in any way you can.

Join the local chapter of the AMA and go to meetings, volunteer at conferences and events, offer to buy lunch for people that have the job you want in a few years.

Learn how to listen, to provide value to someone else without expecting any in return, and learn how to stay in touch.

Go Forth
Unfortunately, the idea that college prepares you for a career isn’t totally true. What it does do is prepare you to start working toward a career.

Assume you know nothing but work hard to learn, take one of the first jobs you’re offered and stick it out for a few years, get creative with the way you market yourself and treat yourself like a product, and start to build your network to open up new doors and opportunities.

Good luck.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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