This genYOU feature article was written by Naomi Kroll who is the Asia Pacific Marketing Coordinator for Monsido. Achieving this role within her first 2 years of graduating, this article is full of tips for students, post graduates and young professionals.
Postgrad life can be frustrating. Sending out hundreds of applications to only have a handful of interviews? I hear you. The more graduates I speak to, the more I hear that many of us struggle to find work at all, let alone in the field we focussed our studies to.
It’s been 2 years since I graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Business and Commerce, majoring in Marketing. Since then, I’ve worked in business development in lead generation and sales; run a few not-for-profit projects; and I am now the Asia Pacific Marketing Coordinator for Monsido, an innovative marketing software company.
It wasn’t easy getting to where I am and it took a targeted plan. As I feel the woes of postgrad life and want you to succeed, I’m going to share some useful tips that you can start at any time to land the role you want (if you are a current student, it is even better to start now).
Tips for landing the role you want:
1 // Work on your soft skills
Soft skills are interpersonal (people) and transferable skills. These include communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and emotional intelligence.
Ways to build these:
>> Free online courses.
>> Attending events in your field.
>> Join a club or meetup where you can build skills. Eg. Toastmasters is great for public speaking skills.
>> Join a uni society or an organisation like the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) or Rotaract.
>> Part-time or casual jobs while you are studying.
>> Study abroad or participate in a short term trip. I can recommend the New Colombo Plan.
2 // Take on volunteer opportunities
I’ve almost always had hiring managers ask me about my volunteering and projects in interviews, after seeing it on my resume. I believe it was because it made me stand out and they recognised that it built ‘soft’, creative, problem solving, customer service, and business skills. Volunteering has been a place where I could bring my marketing, management, and business studies to life. On top of that, I feel fulfilled and happy knowing that contributing my skills has made a positive impact in the community.
There are plenty of opportunities around to volunteer or you can create your own project. This can be done while you are still studying. There are many platforms, like Ethicaljobs.com.au, to find volunteer positions. You can also look up volunteer opportunities on the website of a charity you admire and ask them about getting involved or having a volunteer ‘internship’ with them.
Creating a project is an even better way (if you ask me) to strengthen your skills, make a difference, and to add something eye-catching to add to your resume. In uni, I created The Sock Syndicate. It was a five-month project that gave Sydney’s homeless fresh socks and 100% of the profits to support Youth Off The Streets. We sold funky socks and for each pair we sold, we donated a pair to a homeless person and donated 100% of our profits to Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets. It operated as a Social Enterprise with an e-commerce website (thanks Wix for the affordable, easy website). It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life and put all my uni studies to practice. The bonus was being able to refer to it in my job hunt.
For projects, my advice is to just start. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take something you’re passionate about and see how you can help people with it. Get your friends involved too and watch it grow!
>> Love baking? Make a baking project over a couple of months where for every order you fill, you’ll donate half of your profits to Meals on Wheels or Ozharvest.
>> Love dogs? Start a dog walking business project where for every dog you walk, you donate some profits to an animal shelter.
>> In IT and passionate about educating people about technology? Hold a series of workshops in your community teaching people to be tech-savvy with their phones.
3 // Connect with leaders in your field and look for a mentor
One thing that helped me know which actions to take to advance my career was getting a mentor. I found a mentor program where I partnered with an impressive marketing leader who gave me wonderful advice. There are plenty of online mentor programs. You just need to hunt for them. There’s also ‘per-session’ mentor programs like MentorWalks.
If you can’t find a program, I recommend reaching out to university leaders or teachers you admire or following people on LinkedIn that you admire. Engage with their content, share what you learnt from them, and create a relationship. After a couple of months of engaging with their content, you could send them a message saying what you admire them for and ask how they got to where they are today. Keep it short and simple for them, perhaps by asking if they could share 3 dot point tips and go from there. Just remember, their time is valuable, so respect if they don’t reply or if they keep it short.
4 // Build your LinkedIn
Creating a personal brand through LinkedIn is a great way to put you ahead of the crowd. Starting early is best as it helps you build a network and develops your personal brand. Over a few years, my connections snowballed and I built meaningful relationships. Be patient and put in the effort and you will see your LinkedIn grow.
Some tips for building your LinkedIn profile:
>> Headshot photo: Use a good quality, professional headshot. This should be the first step. People are much more likely to want to connect and engage with you if they can put a face to your name.
>> Connections: I started building my LinkedIn by adding a few people I knew and adding top people in my industry (send them a tailored connection request). As my network expanded, I paid attention to the suggested connections. Focus on adding people within or close to your industry but also feel free to add some people outside of your industry if it interests you (Eg. I follow some people in the medical, education, and sustainability fields so I can learn).
>> Profile: To start, I added as many relevant things as I could to my profile, including my volunteering and skills. Message some of your personal contacts and ask them if they can endorse your skills and/or write a recommendation. If you’re stuck on what skills to add, look at your mentors LinkedIn profile to get some ideas and see if they are relevant to you.
>> Create content: This doesn’t have to be regular or perfect. Post relevant and authentic content. To start, I made posts about lessons I had learnt in group projects, with early employers, life, and uni assignments.
>> Comment: Build relationships and contribute to others by commenting on their posts.
5 // Expand your job search
After graduating, I found it hard to find suitable marketing roles (most were entry-level roles asking for 2-5 years experience). I got many knock backs for my applications. Then it hit me, perhaps I should be expanding my search?
I decided to look for sales roles, as that was in the business space. After applying for a handful of sales roles, I got a call for an interview with Monsido, for a Business Development Representative (lead generation/sales/cold calling) role. Long story short, I landed the job.
After working hard for months in lead generation and implementing constructive criticism, I asked if I could do marketing for the company part-time. My boss agreed and I started working with our marketing team (who were based in Denmark). Fast forward another year (to January 2020) and I was promoted into a full-time position as the Asia Pacific Marketing Coordinator.
It blows my mind thinking that if I had not taken a deep breath to expand my job search to a role outside my degree, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m sure you can see the lesson here.
6 // Work hard
The first few years of work out of uni will involve working extra hard. This is a valuable time to be learning and building your experience. Ask for feedback, implement constructive criticism and learn from those in more senior roles. Put your hand up to help with extra activities and tasks in your office. The hard work will pay off!
Although this list is not exhaustive, it does highlight the top things that helped me get to where I am today. Be empathetic, resilient, authentic, and hard-working, and your career and life will be positively affected.
I wish you all the best!
This article was written by Naomi Kroll, Asia Pacific Marketing Coordinator, Monsido.