A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at San Diego State University with a few fellow PDMers – Grayson Lafrenz (our CEO) and Sam Wormser (PR Account Manager). The event was co-hosted by SDSU’s Entrepreneur Society and chapter of American Marketing Association, so you can imagine how excited we were to talk with these students.
We spoke a bit about what it means to work at an agency, how to be entrepreneurial in any role, and how to make the college → post college transition as smooth as possible. Given that Sam and I have both made that transition in the last few years, we had quite a bit of knowledge to drop on this subject.
What was most interesting, though, is all of the questions that we got from the crowd during and after the presentation. First and foremost, it’s no surprise students were interested in learning about internships, opportunities, and what they should do now in order to land that marketing job when they graduate. Our interns are one of the most important parts of Power Digital – several of our full time employees actually started as interns (including myself and Sam)!
If you’re working at an agency that doesn’t have a solid internship program, know that the students are hungry! You could be missing out on a great pool of talent. It’s on you to reach out, educate, and engage the students. The more they know about digital, the more likely they are to want to work in the industry. Make sure that you keep a presence on your local campus and cultivate that cycle of industry education and internships. It’ll pay out huge in the long run!
The second-biggest talking point during the event was about what services we offer, how we make money for clients, and what the day-to-day looks like. It became pretty clear that the “marketing” that students are taught in class and the actual marketing that happens in real-world business are night and day. They don’t know anything about digital marketing beyond some basic social media stuff. They’ve seen the ‘sponsored’ posts on Instagram and Facebook. They’ve been followed around the internet with ads (remarketing). Beyond that, it may as well all be Greek.
This is where you, as an agency, can provide huge value for students looking to get into marketing. These kids need to be properly educated, and unfortunately the academic system is a few decades behind. Very few people knew what ‘SEO’ was, or how to differentiate between ‘Paid’ and ‘Organic’. It’s not like the students didn’t want to learn – they were very curious and asked for a ton of detail. This all ties back into my initial point that students are hungry! They want to understand the world that they’re about to be thrust into and unfortunately the college isn’t preparing them like they should. Grayson has said many times that the lifeblood of PDM is our interns – former and current. It’s what has allowed us to grow so quickly and attract veteran talent that can quickly disperse their knowledge among these sponge-like young professionals.
Getting young people involved is more important in digital than it is any other industry because they’re the first generation to grow up with the Internet. I cannot express how important that fact is – these young adults know the space like the back of their hand, they just need a little professional guidance!