How to Prepare Yourself for a Career in Marketing and Communications
What is your current role?
I’ve spent my entire career working in marketing and external communications. I started my career working for a public relations agency in San Francisco, and since then have worked in marketing and communications for several different tech companies in Silicon Valley.
Currently, I’m on the external communications team at Facebook where I focus on our video products. This means I work closely with reporters writing about Facebook’s video features, sharing with them all the new capabilities we are building for people to watch videos on Facebook, and connecting them with other people around those videos.
What’s it like working in Silicon Valley? Did you come from a tech background?
I was a comparative literature major at Hamilton and knew very little about tech before I started working in the industry. I think coming from a liberal arts background is a huge strength. Being able to communicate clearly and concisely, synthesize difficult concepts into something easily digestible, think beyond what’s right in front of you, and connect broad trends are all incredibly valuable workplace skills, and something that Hamilton students bring to the table.
That said, without a tech background it can take some extra effort to get in the door, so oftentimes you’ll need to demonstrate your fit for a job in other ways – through a strong resumé, related work experience, or solid interview. And once you are hired, you may at first need to work harder than the marketing or business or other skill-focused majors around you to prove yourself. But you’ll have the tools to do that anyway.
How can someone applying for a job coming from a liberal arts background stand out?
Having related job experience is really important, but can be hard especially for recent college graduates. Therefore, it’s important to clearly demonstrate a pattern of interest.
To do so, find creative ways to build relevant experience. Think about the core skills needed for a job and engage in activities and jobs that build those skills. For example, although being a tour guide may not seem directly related to communications/public relations, if you step back and think about it, both involve a lot of the same skills – public speaking, messaging, answering challenging questions. Look around campus for activities and jobs that will help you demonstrate your interest in an area to help strengthen your resumé.
How important is a resumé?
I think it is very important for marketing positions, especially if you don’t have strong connections or another way through the door. A resumé is the first impression that I get of a job candidate and it directly influences our initial interactions. Oftentimes I see really poor resumes – long, hard to follow, unrelated to the position, typos – and unless they have some amazing experience, I’m immediately not interested. If you can’t represent yourself well on paper, how are you going to explain difficult concepts to the public? And if you can’t take the time to turn in a clean resume that you presumably had lots of time to review and refine, how conscientious will you be in your day-to-day work?
What career advice do you have?
Take a risk. Try going where people don’t typically go. I’m of course a little biased, but there’s so much opportunity in Silicon Valley. Instead of going to East Coast cities, move to San Francisco for the summer and get an internship at one of the many great companies here. We have a strong alumni community that loves to help recent grads out. You can always move home after it’s over, and you’ll go back with more experience to help you land your next job. And if you stay, it is a wonderful place to build a career.