You just need to graduate. You just need to graduate and get a job. Then everything will work out. But what if when you graduate, you find out that in the 4+ years you spent getting a marketing degree, you haven’t actually acquired the skills you need to be successful in the professional world? Well then, your plan goes out the window and you die. Not really, but it does put a big ole wrench in things. To prove my point, here are 3 things I learned while interning for Brindle, that my college education did nothing to prepare me for.
#1 DIGITAL MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Business schools across the country are currently educating the next generation of marketers. Unfortunately, the curriculum being taught to these young minds is stuck in the past. The current, outdated marketing curriculum still focuses primarily on print ads, and in ‘The Digital Age’, that’s just not going to cut it in the real world. While it is important to understand the history and progression of the marketing strategy, it is more important that students be prepared to work in the current environment. Most consumers are getting their information from media outlets; therefore, most companies are spending their marketing budgets on digital marketing tactics like social media. While colleges attempt to briefly touch on digital marketing techniques, they simply don’t give students the resources, knowledge, and experience they need to comfortably and successfully develop digital marketing campaigns or social media.
Here’s where an internship comes in handy. Internships allow students to work alongside, and be mentored by, professionals working in the current marketing environment. My supervisors have been immensely helpful in teaching me how to create, manage, and promote digital campaigns. I have of course used social media in my personal life, but it is an entirely different thing to manage a client’s online presence on multiple platforms and facets. In other words, to get the training and experience you’ll need for the workforce but is lacking from your academics, get an internship!
#2 CONTENT MARKETING AND SEO
Search Engine Optimization: a concept quite foreign to me when I first began looking for an internship. But in the digital age, SEO is an important skill for marketers to have. A lot of consumers are looking online for products and services, using search engines to get convenient lists of businesses that can provide them with said goods. That said, almost no one scrolls through more than five pages of search results. In fact, most people don’t even make it past the first page. So, there is a marked advantage for a business to be listed in those coveted Page 1 spots and the way they get there (other than paid-for ads) is using SEO.
In addition to SEO, students aren’t being taught how to appeal to the current consumer process or optimize content. Consumers are looking for companies that not only provide the service or product they are looking for, they’re also looking for companies that have demonstrated their expertise and can educate them. Similarly, students need to be educated on the up-to-date best practices for SEO so that they can optimize the visibility of their firm’s content. Out-of-date information could be costly for the firm.
Here, again, an internship is the most practical solution. As I have recently found: with professional guidance, hands-on experience, and up-to-date training, students will acquire the skills that their education failed to provide them with.
#3 OVERALL APPLICATION AND HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE
On top of the lack of focus on current and important skills for the marketing hopeful, colleges are not providing students with the opportunities to practice and implement the things they are learning. Group projects and mock ad campaigns have been so mutated to enhance gradability that they are not serving their purpose anymore. Hands-on experience allows students to make meaningful connections between their learned material and the world they experience outside of school (i.e. it makes the information ‘stick’).
When I first started at Brindle I had no experience with Google My Business posts, social media content calendars, graphic design, blogs, SEO or any actual real-world marketing, and I was in my third year of business school. I had textbooks worth of information swimming around my head and a drive like no other, but that’s it. Courses seem to focus on vocabulary, theories, and history, but it was the actual application of the material I had been taught (in addition to more updated and relevant training) that made it all come together. I now have connections that tie my textbook information to my actual training and experiences.
Formal education, while useful, is sadly not enough to succeed in the business world anymore. I’ve learned more about the marketing world from the training, mentorship, and experience I am receiving at Brindle than I have in the 3 and a half years I’ve been studying marketing. So, in summary, internships are invaluable experiences for marketing students because nothing will prepare you for a career in marketing better than the hands-on experience at a business willing to help you learn and grow as a professional.