October 26, 2016
From time to time, I have college marketing students reach out and request an "email" interview about my job and responsibilities. Allow me to share my responses from a recent request by Coastal Carolina University sport management student Kaytlin Martinez:
What educational steps did you take to reach this level in your career?
Actually, my background is as an English major. I was originally in journalism as a newspaper editor for nearly 20 years, and a college internship was actually more instrumental in my career choice than the classroom. My journalism background has served me well in this higher education marketing position.
What type of entry-level jobs would you recommend for someone wishing to reach your job?
Obviously having a journalism background can help, because you understand how the media thinks/works and can tailor your messaging/strategy. You are used to writing/messaging to specific audiences. The ability to work under deadline pressure is also a bonus. I would say having experience in event marketing and project management is also a big help. So jobs like marketing manager and even in the area of sales probably would prove helpful.
What are the biggest day-to-day problems you face within your responsibility?
Being in a small organization, being a manager and a “doer” can be very challenging. I manage an office of four full-time staff, as well as a web management company that develops our web site. I am also the primary public relations/communications person, and those are duties I also have to perform as well as managing my people and my area. Juggling all those responsibilities sometimes can be a daunting task.
When interviewing, what stands out to you in a resume?
Experience in the field. Do you have experience in higher education, or a related area? Education/degrees are OK, but I want to know if you’ve gone above and beyond your education to succeed in your field. To be honest, it’s very hard to judge candidates solely from their resumes. But I want to see initiative.
What type of qualities or abilities would you say are most important for this job?
Self-managing skills such as accountability, the ability to work with a diverse group of people, and being a team player are at the top of my list. Do you show up to work on time? When I give you a project and a deadline, does it get done correctly and on time? Do I have to remind you about it? Can you solve a problem that you did not create? How do you handle conflict/adversity? Answer those questions correctly, and you’re hired.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
The people whom I work with. Being part of a successful team is a very rewarding experience. Accomplishing tasks together gives you a real feeling of pride. Having the right people “on the bus” makes all the difference.
How do most people become involved in this industry?
Good question. Most come from either a media or advertising/public relations background. But truthfully, people can come from a variety of directions. With social media emerging as a real marketing channel, people who can learn to use it to their advantage are emerging in this field.
Are there too many or too few people trying to be involved in this career path?
Tough question to answer. I would say it is a “supply and demand” profession. I think there are many who are majoring in marketing. On the surface, marketing looks fun and relatively easy. You design posters, build web sites, organize events. But you also have to work “behind the scenes” on such things as enrollment and fundraising goals. And the technology is constantly changing. What was a successful marketing channel six months ago may not necessarily be one today. You have to constantly be looking at new trends and channels.
What causes people to leave this particular job/career?
Burn out. Much like journalism, the work cycle is truly never ever done. You complete one recruitment/academic cycle, it begins again. And higher education in particular has some people who can be difficult to work with. The diversity of the job, however, can pull you out of a rut from time to time.
Which seasons of the year are you the busiest?
Fall and spring, which are usually are strongest recruitment cycles. However, it truly is a year-around effort. Summers are a bit slower usually.
How would you describe the culture of this industry?
Competitive. You are constantly competing against other institutions and organizations for students and dollars. Enrollment and fundraising drive our University, and those are the two efforts that we have to focus on daily. There is always something (or someone) new walking through your door every day.
How many hours do you typically work during your busy season?
Truthfully, I’m not a big believer in working beyond 40 hours a week. I don’t expect that from my staff, and I try to keep that schedule myself. Sometimes it is unavoidable with special events and projects, however, I try to pepper in some time off when things slow down. With the recent changes to the federal overtime laws, that will basically be mandated anyway. Our institution cannot afford much overtime pay, and I believe that work/life balance must be kept to keep people productive. One of my favorite sayings is “work smarter, not harder.” I try to stick to that principle.
Doug Goodnough is the director of Marketing and Communications at Siena Heights University. Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-264-7141.