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Sally Newman

How To Get Into Digital Marketing: A Graduate’s Guide

2nd Jun 2015 SEO 10 minutes to read

How To Get Into Digital Marketing: A Graduate’s Guide

For students or recent graduates looking to get into Digital Marketing, there are a number of ways to stand a better chance of being recruited, and excelling once you’ve landed yourself your dream digital role. Sharing tips from my own experiences, here’s how…

Whilst Digital Marketing is a highly competitive industry, you don’t necessarily need an advertising or marketing degree to make it in the industry. You actually need a killer CV, varied work experience under your belt, a willingness to learn and a positive attitude.

Throughout my time studying at University and my post education work experience, I’ve learned a few tips that helped me get snapped up by a top agency like Koozai. Here’s what I did:

My Top 10 Tips

  • Network with industry experts and begin making contacts
  • Ask family friends, neighbours, anyone that you meet if they have industry contacts and get in touch with them
  • Put yourself out there and take on any task that’s given to you, making a good impression is crucial in such a sociable and connected industry
  • Stay open-minded and positive, even once you have landed your first industry role. It can be hard learning new things every day but it’s also very rewarding.
  • You’ll always be learning in this industry as it’s always evolving. Keep up-to-speed with changes by reading, watching videos and attending webinars.
  • Blogging can help to enrich your knowledge and you will probably engage with other like-minded bloggers and enhance your network
  • Setting up a website is the next step from blogging and it encompasses all of the same benefits. This will help you to also build your technical knowledge.
  • Working on friend’s / family projects is great practice to help build your confidence and get vital experience. You can still put this on your CV as work experience
  • Gathering work to showcase at interviews is important as it shows you have proof of your work and it also sends a good impression to the employer. It also shows that you haven’t just turned up unprepared and you’ve gone beyond the expectations.
  • Engage in Tweetchats using hashtags such as #marketingprofs. Not only will this get your voice heard in the industry but there’s endless amounts to learn from likeminded people.

Whilst University is a place to meet friends and have fun, the end goal is to do well and eventually get a job. The best way to equip yourself for post-University life and the working world is to find as much work experience as you can and network like crazy. If you’re at University and looking to get into marketing, for example, find local agencies, create a cracking CV and a speculative cover letter personalised to the company for whom you are applying and get your LinkedIn profile up-to-scratch and looking professional (make sure your photo isn’t of you with a drink in your hand). List any transferrable skills on your CV, whether its customer service from your waitressing job or report writing skills you developed on a University project – it all helps.


You can find work experience in other ways such as:

  • Follow local agencies on Social Media and tweet them directly asking for a meeting or requesting work experience
  • Look out for University emails about potential work experience
  • Attend relevant talks at university that give you the opportunity to chat to speakers in the networking sessions afterwards
  • Use University careers services to look over your CV and give you mock interviews. They can raise questions you hadn’t thought of and allow you to go to your interview with more confidence.
  • Put your name forward for industry projects at University as they will enhance your experience and skillset which may not just lead directly to work experience, but also allows you to create contacts this way
  • Use websites such as Graduate Jobs South for opportunities as well as CV and interview advice
  • Search for companies with work experience opportunities and tweek your cover letter and CV to fit the company. By looking at their website you can generally get a feel for a company and how formal they are so you can try and pitch it similarly.
  • Showcasing your creative work using sites such as Behance will show your enthusiasm and can be used during the recruitment process

Throughout each stint of work experience, make sure you list your completed tasks so when you come to write about them in your CV your mind doesn’t go blank. Having relevant industry experience is one of the first things your potential employer will be looking for so don’t miss out on crucial details.

Networking Tips

If you’re at University, take advantage of any guest lectures or Digital Marketing activities that you can help out with. Guest lectures will open your eyes to the industry from different perspectives. For example, it might be someone working at an agency, or running a campaign, or someone talking about a recent development. Whatever the talk, attend and immerse yourself in this wonderful sector.

If your University or College doesn’t provide talks like this for you then the first hurdle is knowing where to look for events where you can network and meet interesting industry experts. I would recommend the following industry conferences for networking opportunities and for gaining knowledge:

  • The Content Marketing Show, a free marketing conference about all things content
  • Brighton SEO, run by the same guys as The Content Marketing Show. Also free and jam packed full of workshops and training sessions.
  • Use Meetup to look for other free or cheap Meetups locally to you

I would also recommend keeping on top of communities online such as LinkedIn and Google+.Linkedin Login Page

Once you’re at these events it’s easy to shy away and go home after the conference but when hundreds of people are there you’ll go unnoticed unless you approach the speakers and engage in conversations and pick their brains. Networking can seem daunting but everyone’s been at the beginning of their career and they’ll more than likely be willing to help you in any way they can. Start by saying why you did or didn’t enjoy their talk (only go with the latter if you have a constructive comment to follow) and ask for their thoughts / opinions on a new trend or a new Google update, for example. You can offer them your CV, ask for their business card or you could write to them on Twitter and say something like “I really enjoyed your talk at XXXX and I’d really like the opportunity to talk to you properly about it”. If you can get their email address this way or via their website and you pitch your email in the right way, you never know – you could be their next intern! Another tip is, if you know the company’s email format and you know the speakers names, there’s nothing to stop you from contacting them directly to follow up from your chat at the networking event.

Resources I Recommend For Inspiration By Interest


Subscribe to Campaign Magazine. There are often discounts on this so it needent break the bank. Campaign is a great resource for industry opinion and it’ll keep you going for weeks.

Keep up with current affairs. This helps me to engage in diverse conversations with industry experts and hold my own in interviews. This also allows for exciting Newsjacking ideas for advertising campaigns. You can do this by picking up The i each Sunday, The Metro on the tube or by listening to radio stations such as BBC Radio 4 as they quite often have CEOs from fantastic organisations and varied industry experts.

Whilst I regularly check Adweek and Brand Republic for the latest trends and theories, there are also a few books that I really enjoyed reading:

  • Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom
  • Creative Mischief by Dave Trott
  • Hegarty On Creativity: There Are No Rules by John Hegarty

Follow industry experts like @davetrott and @rorysutherland on Twitter for their take on all things advertising.


Sign up to the Content Marketing Institute’s free webinars. These vary from webinars about content strategy to making an engaging webinar. These are all free to watch and archived so you can go back to the one’s you found most useful.

Follow the Convince and Convert team for their blogs and podcasts. They have some great content pieces for you to go and enjoy for free.

Follow Content Marketing Institute Founder @JoePulizzi and Top Rank Online Marketing CEO @leeodden on Twitter for up-to-date Content Marketing information and for content inspiration.


Design has always been a love of mine and other than the standard Grand Designs viewing on a Wednesday night I do the following things to keep up with design trends:

I follow @IMKellyHoppen. Not only has she got a job as an interior designer and business woman, but she also speaks at lots of events and exhibitions that incorporate both. Following her on Twitter is a great way to keep up with industry events that are going on and even when I can’t make them, there’s usually a synopsis, slides or a write-up online that I can find.

I frequently visit Wired and The Verve as they have great design categories on their websites. They have lots of information on branding, technology, design and The Verve also have reviews of mobile applications and various other technological advances.

If you’re interested in packaging design like I am, you might also like The Museum Of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in London.


Firstly, the best places to read up on SEO and PPC are Search Engine LandSearch Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal.

Additionally, there are some great LinkedIn groups that you can really take advantage of such as ‘SEO & PPC Professionals’, ‘SearchX (SEM SEA SEO) Search Engine Marketing Professionals’ or ‘SEO SEM Social Mobile (Digital Search & Internet Marketing)’. You can request to join these groups and there is an array of articles and discussions for you to get your teeth sunk into.

To see what people are talking about simply search for the hashtag ‘SEO’ or ‘PPC’ on Twitter and this brings up some interesting articles.

I would also really recommend following State of Digital’s founder @basvandenbeld as he gives some fantastic talks which he shares his slides for. State of Digital is also a great platform for industry knowledge.

Whilst this isn’t a self-promotion post, I do feel that our Marketing Director, Sam Noble, gives a great account of what PPC (Pay-Per-Click) is in our Koozai video here. If you’re new to PPC I would definitely recommend watching it.

PR & Social

Using PR and social together is a great way of outreaching to agencies or individuals for freelancing work. With the Internet there are so many fabulous opportunities waiting for you to take advantage of. Building a rapport with an agency has never been so easy – so get liking, favouriting and retweeting!

Social Media Signs

Similarly, one of the most effective ways to network is by getting involved in Tweetchats. A great free tool for doing this is Tweetdeck which allows you to view your Home page, notifications, direct messages and recent activity from your newsfeed. You can engage in social and PR based conversations by using hashtags such as #PR #PublicRelations #PRtips #SM #socialmedia #SMO and many others.

I would recommend some great networking sessions and seminars you can attend such as The Power of PR and Social Media, PR 101 – Learn The Basics Of PR and the Social Media Workshop by the Bright Ideas Trust.

Follow We Are Social via their website or on Twitter as they are a great resource for social statistics, campaigns and interesting snippets of information.

If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this:

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and start making industry contacts wherever possible and if you’re seriously interested in getting into the creative industries then I suggest starting your own blog or even better, setting up your own website.  Even if all the content on there isn’t relevant to marketing, having a public platform of opinions and tips will show your passion for the industry and it will also improve your skills along the way.

If you have any tips you’d like to share, or have any questions you’d like to fire my way, please leave a comment below or tweet me @Sally_Newm.

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Sally Newman
About the author

Sally Newman

The bubbly, pint-sized Sally lives to the mantra of work hard and play harder. She’s a big fan of rings and Amaretto, is an absolute ray of sunshine to have around the office but probably has the dirtiest sense of humour. That’s why we love her.

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