The night before Marketing Industry Focus Night, we collaborated with Foster Career Services to host a panel of marketing students and recent grads (including AMA alums!) to share their insights and experience with the oft-mysterious process of marketing recruiting. Whether it was the insecurities that come with just-in-time hiring or wondering of whether school-year internships are worth it, they’ve been through it all—and made it out on top.
Noah graduated from Foster in Spring 2018, and double-concentrated in Information Systems and the marketing Digital Analytics track. He works now in marketing analytics at AnalyticsPro and interned at ChemPoint in sales and marketing the summer before graduation.
Teresa also graduated from Foster in Spring 2018, and she studied marketing and also earned the Professional Sales Certificate. She currently works as an account manager at creative agency Indigo Slate and has worked in marketing at the Stanford School of Medicine doing as well as in business development at Tableau.
Samantha is a senior in Foster studying marketing and information systems, currently interning at SAP Concur and working on digital marketing.
Sheldon is a senior at Foster studying marketing and information systems and has interned at Amazon Web Services and the market research firm Hypothesis. After graduation, he’ll be headed to Austin to work at Box doing a mix of marketing and consulting.
What did your job or internship journey look like? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Sheldon: Two summers ago, between sophomore and junior years, I worked for a smaller firm. I try to remind myself in that time of my life, even if you’re an underclassman there’s opportunities out there for you. It can be disheartening to go to career fairs and hear they’re only looking for juniors or soon-to-be grads, but you just have to say thank you and keep looking. What really helped me was reaching out to my network here at Foster, which is how I found out about that opportunity. Reaching out to a contact was what also helped me get connected with an Amazon recruiter, which was my next internship. AWS was an opportunity I received pretty late in junior year, almost spring quarter, and when you compare that to the finance/accounting/consulting recruiting timeline it feels really late, but don’t get disheartened. Don’t feel like time has run out just because your friends have offer. Go to company events, build a network, and keep looking for those connections—you can even do that through AMA.
Samantha: Building off that point, the summer after sophomore year, I interned at Seattle City Light, which was actually supposed to be an internship for after junior year. Don’t get discouraged! Something that helped me was building a relationship with the recruiter, like going to the career fair, following up on LinkedIn, and going to a quick coffee chat with them. Building those relationships inside the company can be really valuable.
Teresa: During my senior year I expected that during fall recruiting when everyone else was converting to full-time, I thought I’d be converting too. But since marketing is a lot of just-in-time hiring, so that didn’t happen for me. It was stressful, so be so easy on yourself. Your path isn’t everyone else’s path! Opportunities arise when there’s luck, timing, and hard work. I also did a ton of informational interviews and reaching out to people on LinkedIn asking them to coffee.
Noah: Yes—on LinkedIn it’s so easy to find people who are in industries or companies you’re interested in. It’s great to build a network off of your existing network, so see if there are any shared connections that could connect you two, then it’s a little more personal. Also, when you’re reflecting on your internships, it’s so important to identify the likes and dislikes you had so you can be smart about finding your next opportunity and talk in interviews about what you are passionate about.
Alums: Was there a difference between searching for internship vs full-time opportunities?
Teresa: From my experience, I noticed that most of the traction I got during full-time searching was from my internship experiences—it’s like the internship was a trial run for them, and then they wanted to extend our time working together. I actually took two internships during spring quarter and those helped me a lot.
Noah: Actually, the job that I’m working now was just an internship six months ago. I started that internship less than two weeks after graduation, since my company only hires entry-level employees as interns to see if they’re a good fit before fully converting. I started as a true full-time employee six weeks into that internship. The biggest difference between interviews for internships vs jobs is that companies want you to think more long-term when it’s a job, since it’s an indefinite commitment vs just a summer or quarter.
Teresa: Agreed. Even if it’s spring quarter, senior year, taking an internship on is still a smart move!
When you’re at networking event or industry night, what’s your advice when it’s time to talk to a recruiter?
Samantha: I think it’s so important to tailor your elevator pitch to each recruiter. Always mention what you’re studying, and then mention what you’re specifically passionate about in that field, then say “that’s how I see this playing out in your company by X, Y, Z.” Try not to be too rehearsed! Be authentic and genuine—not nervous. Make sure you know what role you’re interested in (if they’re out) so you can reference the job and its job description specifically.
Sheldon: Something I found really helpful is that when I talk to a recruiter, I try to remember why I majored in marketing in specific. For example, I really enjoyed the aspect of marketing that’s human-focused, what makes consumers or markets tick. So when I speak with recruiters, it makes it less of just an academic area of study and more of a personal passion. That’s something that I can hone in on and focus on if the conversation doesn’t flow right away. Also, if the company has a lot of different options, being specific with your passions can help them figure out where to place you. Make it easy for the recruiter to do their job!
Noah: It’s definitely a dance. When you’re talking to a recruiter, you want to help them as much as they want to help you. As much as we talk about elevator pitches, you’re almost a salesman in this case—ask them what they look for in employees, what they’re looking for as a company. It helps you figure out if it’s a good fit for both of you and how you could work together.
Teresa: Definitely do your research beforehand, especially on your ‘target’ companies you’re especially interested in. Go through LinkedIn, see who’s recruiting, then understand that what they’re really looking for is talent. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and connect on a more personal level—most recruiters are extroverts already.
Noah: Think about how those recruiters will feel after your interaction—will they remember your exact GPA? Probably not. Will they remember how you treated them and how you behaved? Yes.
What do you think helped you stand out when recruiters talk to so many people in a day?
Sheldon: Asking a lot of questions. Obviously you want to communicate why you’re qualified for this position, but even asking about what they’re interested in can help your conversation more unique. Something I started doing was asking them how would be best to follow up—maybe 12-24 hours later, contact them on LinkedIn or email, whichever they prefer, and then reference something specific in your conversation that really resonated with you. It’s a way to stay on their radar for positions that may not be open or available yet.
Samantha: Agreed, it’s super important to follow up. After you get a business card or a LinkedIn connection, make sure you actually take that next step. I once got coffee with a recruiter I meant at a career fair, and afterward she said, “it was so great to meet you, I’ll make sure to take a look at your application.” Think about networking as just making friends, almost like a professional date. Instead of seeming like you’re trying to get something from them, focus more on relationship-building. Let’s say they recommended a book; follow up, say you enjoyed it, and keep that relationship going. (Pro tip: ask a recruiter for a book recommendation to have an easy follow-up topic!)
Noah: Also, not everyone at these career fairs are recruiters. Some people at these company booths are just regular employees, potentially even in the role or team you’re be applying for. Those could be your coworkers! Treat them as people you could be hanging out with every day on coffee breaks, not just someone you’re trying to impress.
What can you do after a networking event or informational interview to help get you one step closer to that dream job/internship?
Samantha: If you feel solid in the relationship, ask if there’s anyone else you should talk to who might be able to share more information about a particular area you’re interested in or something like that.
Sheldon: There are also all these guest speakers we’re lucky to have in marketing classes. I know it’s intimidating to go up after class and ask for time with them, but the fact that they’re already here on campus shows they’re willing to help students in marketing.
How do you navigate balancing internships and extracurriculars and schoolwork?
Teresa: It totally depends on who you are. I have friends who didn’t intern at all until after junior year, then nabbed a great position that converted to full-time. Personally, I really valued that learning outside the classroom, so it was a good tool for me to identify what I did and didn’t enjoy doing. It helped me a lot figuring out what roles to pursue.
Samantha: To be honest, it’s hard. I’m interning during the school year right now and it’s definitely not easy. I think employers and recruiters do recognize that, and it can help show you’re dedicated and that you can balance work and school.
Sheldon: Sometimes it seems like there’s this unspoken hypothetical timeline to success in Foster. But pursuing a marketing career is so different for every person, and internships aren’t make or break. You can emphasize a club leadership position that you had for two years, for example, and share with a recruiter what skills you learned there over a significant period of time. I think it’s really up to you—you can still get an amazing job with no internships.
Noah: Think about what’s going to enhance your daily life. I worked an internship winter & spring quarters of junior year, twenty hours a week on top of sixteen credits. It was brutal. Think about self-care, think about the workload, think about what you’ll actually be going through. Learn to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel like it’s not going to work, it’s probably not going to work. If you think you can make it work, you will probably figure out a way to make it work.
Do you have any tips for landing a first internship when you don’t have direct experience with that industry?
Noah: When I started my first internship I’d never worked in an office—I’d been a server and a warehouse worker. Think about what skills or experiences you’ve had that you can share in an interview. You’ve worked retail? That’s customer service, a client-facing role. You’ve done a bunch of group projects in school? That’s project management, coordinating a lot of moving pieces. You have experience, you just don’t know it yet.
Sheldon: When I was an underclassman, I emphasized that I might not have a ton of experience but I was excited to learn and would take on every project with so much excitement and curiosity. I think that enthusiasm really helped.
Teresa: You can also develop your own skills—do LinkedIn Learning, take a Coursera Course, pull together a case analysis—and that go-getter attitude and drive is what every employer is looking for.
Once you make it to the phone interview round after a networking event or application, how can you make the most of that opportunity?
Sheldon: I can’t speak to every first-round interview, but sometimes the questions can be more behavioral, so it’s important to be yourself. Especially if it’s a phone interview instead of an in-person interview, you can have some notes about stories or points you want to bring up. A challenge though is it can be hard to register emotion over the phone. Don’t oversell it or talk any differently than if you were speaking to a friend, but make sure your answers show the type of person you really are since they can’t pick up on any physical cues or inflections in your voice.
Noah: Phone interviews let you do things you can’t do in a normal interview. One of the best pieces of advice I got was to stand up and walk around. You’ll be calmer, your voice will be stronger. You don’t even have to do it in a small room, do it where you feel comfortable—even a quiet place outside.
Teresa: Even though they couldn’t see me, I’d dress up, so it made me feel the part and feel like I was actually going to the interview. Also, match them. For example, if they were talking really fast, a million miles a minute, I’d speed up. If you guys are communicating in the same style, I feel like it makes a difference.
Samantha: Take a deep breath, do a power pose, and try to be yourself. If you’re super nervous and stuttering, you’re not making the best first impression.
One of our panelists (and AMA alumni), Noah, also wrote a great post on the topic—check his LinkedIn article for his own unique perspective!