While applying for a job today, I had the opportunity to answer some fairly detailed and introspective questions regarding my experience with marketing. I don’t have a marketing degree, nor do I have any “formal” experience with marketing.
That doesn’t mean is I lack marketing experience. It means my titles (communications consultant, multimedia journalist) don’t scream marketing.If you’re among the Gen Y population, you know all too well that jobs may be hard to come by. And if you’re a go-getter, you know about making a way out of no way. I was shut out of more traditional newsrooms when I started writing, so I cut my teeth writing with a then unknown hip hop site that was posting updates once a day at midnight. Today, that website is one of the most highly trafficked hip hop sites on the web. That experience led to helping found a lifestyle site, The Well Versed, which is where I got some valuable marketing experience. Sadly, the site isn’t around today — but failure to turn an upstart with no budget into a media powerhouse is no reason to hang the head. But just because the work wasn’t lucrative doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. At TWV, I learned by doing. I learned how to manage a content management system, mentored and managed other writers, ran social media campaigns and a host of other things. Chances are, you’ve got some work experience that makes you perfect for your dream job (mine your volunteer experience for ideas — and if you come up empty, volunteering is a great way to build skills). It’s one thing for someone else to undervalue and discount your skills, quite another for you to take the lead and do it for them. If you’ve developed marketable skills without the need of full-time employment (internships, clubs, volunteering), use those as selling points. This 2013 post from Brazen highlights the benefit of gaining skills through volunteer work:
Non-profits, charities and other organizations that depend on volunteers to keep things running smoothly often have tight budgets. That’s why they need free help in the first place. They may not be able to afford a full-time marketing director, accountant or administrative assistant to the CEO. Or, these positions exist, but those employees are overworked because the organization can’t afford to hire a lower-level employee to help them out. They would be overjoyed to have an extra pair of hands on deck.
This atmosphere is the perfect opportunity for you to step up and offer to fill in those gaps, even if for things not considered “official” volunteer duties. Need more social media experience? Offer to manage the Twitter and Facebook accounts. Want to pursue a career in event management? Ask if you can help organize and plan an event. If you want to add management experience to your resume, then volunteer to help manage the volunteers.
Don’t look at this tactic as working for free. Instead, look at it as free career building.(Click to tweet this idea.) You can develop the experience you need to land a job.
In a tight job market, sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. Don’t let a lack of a paycheck for skills acquired keep you from landing the job of a lifetime.