Digital Marketing, SEO and My Life as a 20-Something

Tag: young women

7 Things I Learned in My First Year Working in Marketing

One day you’re setting up your new e-mail at your new desk, and the next thing you know a year has flown by. As the saying goes, time sure does fly.

2019 was once again, a year. It was supposed to be a relaxing, boring one. Boy, was it anything but. It brought different challenges than 2018, but challenges nonetheless.

The exact date when I started in marketing is somewhat debatable, is it when I started my blog years ago? Is it when I started doing volunteer communications work? Is it when I started my co-op placement? For the sake of clarity and a more appealing title, we’re going to work with the date that I started working full-time in the marketing industry right after finishing my post-graduate degree.

Specific dates and technicalities aside, I’ve come a long way in the past 365 days. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned in my first year working full-time at a marketing agency.

1. Fasten Your Seatbelt, Agency Life is Fast Paced

Enjoy the quiet times while they last, because they never last for long. Agency life can be tough for a lot of people, but I personally love it. My life in an agency is easier than most given that most of my work doesn’t revolve around strict deadlines, but it doesn’t mean my job is any less busy.

One of the favourite parts about my job, and marketing agency life in general, is the wide variety of clients I get to work on. Big and small, new and old, a wide variety of industries and at various stages of their campaigns, local campaigns and across North America…it’s never a dull moment.

Sometimes I do miss being able to immerse myself in everything about one company while working client-side. But overall, I love the diversity, range of topics and challenges that agency life brings.

My personal and professional life before I entered marketing helped me form the time management and organizational skills that are key to succeeding in an agency. In the job itself, two things that help me stay on track are scheduling out my time for each client per month (it’s not always realistic to follow this plan but it definitely helps!) and listing out my priorities for the next day before I leave the office in the evening.

2. WordPress Was One of the Best Skills I Ever Taught Myself

I was asked the other day when I first started using WordPress…it’s probably been 6 or 7 years now? I taught myself HTML about a decade before that as well. Now, I use it every single day.

I had the chance to go back to the college where I did my post-graduate program to talk to current students on two separate occasions this year. On both occasions I encouraged them to learn some basic web skills, specifically WordPress since it’s so widely used. I’m not sure I’d be where I am now without my largely self-taught web skills.

3. Never Stop Learning

Digital marketing is a fast-changing landscape, especially the search marketing world I specialize in. I may have walked across the convocation stage, but that was only the beginning.

It’s so important to stay up with marketing industry news and developments. The last thing you need is to fall behind on an algorithm update or not know about a new feature on one of your platforms and fall behind your competitors as a result.

4. You’ll Doubt Yourself

Did I choose the right career path? Should I have specialized so soon? Is this the right strategy? Is this the right working environment for me? Am I targeting the right keywords? Should the budget be higher? Should the budget be lower? Is this the right way to pitch this? Is my head still attached?

It’s okay. You’re doing great. You wouldn’t be where you are if people didn’t trust you and believe in you. Keep going. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance, but keep kicking ass, because trust me, you are!

5. The Coursework You Never Thought You’d Use? Oh, You’ll Use It.

That lecture about the history of the internet and how the internet, domains and website hosting work? Mindblowing at the time, now I use it on a weekly basis.

That course where we learned how to build a database? Well, guess who’s building a database?

Pay attention, because sometimes the most surprising skills and bits of knowledge are the ones that can really come in handy in a moment of need.

6. Find What Works Best for You

This will come with time, and you’ll have to work within the restraints of your environment which can be a challenge. Little things can make a world of difference, but figuring out what you need to be productive and produce your best work is important.

Noise can be a challenge for me in the office, so headphones have become important. I don’t like wearing them, but the reality is that they’re key to me being able to focus. I’ve also become more in tune with the days when I need to remove myself from the main office space to get work done, especially for large chunks of writing, and what days/moods I can tolerate (or even enjoy!) the background noise.

This will surprise a lot of people, but managing my energy can be a challenge. I may come across as being quiet, but sitting still can be a difficult at times! On these days, I break out the balance cushion (which doubles as a great core workout), listen to music to help channel my energy, or work in the other room and sit in one of the chairs where I can make it bounce up and down without disturbing anybody else.

Writing out my list of priorities for the next day has also become important. Some days it’s not necessary, but as my workload increased and I took on more responsibility just a few months after starting, this became more important. Listing out my priorities the day before helps make sure I don’t let anything slip and means I’m not planning out my day first thing in the morning while I’m still waking up!

7. This is Only the Beginning

There are still times where I’m just in awe at everything that’s happened since I made the decision to pursue marketing professionally. It was a lot of hard work, made much more difficult by family health challenges that emerged at the same time I went back to school, but boy was the hard work worth it because I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.

For as much as I’ve learned in year one, I know I still have so much to learn and so much ahead of me. I have confidence in what I’ve learned and what I’m capable of, but know to stay humble and never stop learning and reflecting.

It was hard to sum up everything I’ve learned this past year into just seven points, but for anybody who’s getting ready to jump into marketing full-time or currently navigating the early months and years of your career, this post is for you. I’m so grateful to be where I am, and if you’re not feeling that way yet, have confidence in your abilities and hang in there because I know you’ll find your marketing bliss soon too.

From professors and co-workers to clients and of course, my family, it took a village to get me to where I am today. Here’s to year two, and beyond!

Have any questions about my experiences? Did you relate to this post? Leave a comment or tweet at me and let me know what you think!

Why Real Young Women Make Real Good Role Models

“Role models really matter.  It’s hard to imagine yourself as something you don’t see.” –Chelsea Clinton

The Oxford Dictionary defines a role model as ‘a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated’. Despite this seemingly clear and simple definition, it is often widely debated whom and what constitutes a ‘proper’ role model. That’s not the topic of this post, because who am I to determine whether or not someone is a good role model to another person, who has life experiences, circumstances, and dreams different than my own?

What I will highlight, is one group who I think is greatly overlooked, despite being very important role models for our young girls. This group is young women.

It’s something that’s really dawned on me in recent months, and has been probably both the most profound, as well as unexpected, revelation of my time in Québec.

Camp counsellors, student teachers, coaches, babysitters, cousins. I hope everybody can think of a few teenagers or young adults who you viewed as a God during your youth, I’m fortunate to have had many. Based on my many years of working with young people, I can conclude that young adults are a source of great mystery to children, sometimes to the point of absolute hilarity (ohhh the questions I’ve been asked!). We’re adults to them in terms of age and authority, yet in a different way than their parents, aunts, uncles, and teachers, with our lack of cars, houses, children, and matching socks. But I guess that’s what makes us so intriguing, and why they relate to us differently.

Furthermore, tweens, particularly girls, really seem to gravitate towards young women, and this is something we should not and cannot ignore.

A lot of the girls I’ve worked with over the years have helped me come to this realization, but there are a few who really stand out to me, because I think I stand out to them. I can’t talk about them here, oh I wish I could, as their beautiful smiles and courageous hearts are the reason I am writing this, and why I have promised myself to always try to be in touch with this age group somehow.

Now, the young women who (I hope) are reading this, you may be thinking ‘What can I do, I still need role models of my own, I can’t be a role model to anybody else’. I used to think this too, and sometimes still doubt myself in this regard. But trust me when I say that you are being watched and you can have an incredible impact on some younger lives. The late elementary and middle school years are a time where girls’ confidence and self-esteem often plummets, but with your help it doesn’t have to be that way, perhaps it could even be a time where it soars.

But what they need, is they need you to silence the boy who speaks over them. They need you to pass them the ball during a soccer game. They need you to ask them a second, maybe third time to attend an extra-curricular activity they weren’t quite sure about but deep down really want to attend. And most importantly, they need you to say Hi. How are you? See you next time!

You don’t need to be a celebrity to do this, you don’t even need to have a job, you only need to be you, because that’s what our girls need most. They need you to be real and present in their everyday lives, not someone who only exists to them on television screens and Instagram posts. They need to see you wearing clothes from the local mall, not expensive designer items. They need to see you walking in the rain because you don’t have a car, never mind an expensive luxury one. They need to see that your skin and hair are not always perfect (mine sure aren’t). They need to see you eating your lunch with your fingers because you forgot a fork and were too lazy to walk to the staff room (true story, maybe I shouldn’t admit to this stuff online). Believe it or not, these things are really, really important.

There’s room for role models who make mistakes. -Taylor Swift

They need you to not just be relatable in the present, but a preview of who they can be in the future. Yes, some of them could go on to be famous musicians, athletes and politicians, and we shouldn’t stop them from dreaming big. But most of them are going to end up like you. You may be either horrified or laughing at that but I mean it in a good way. Because you are real. Unlike celebrities or fictional characters, they can, and most likely will, be like you one day.

That’s not to say that all media is terrible, and I can think of many who take being a role model seriously and try to use the platforms they have in a positive way, and I sincerely applaud their efforts. Role models in media can be important; this could be a young person’s only connection to people like them. This is not something I experienced growing up but for many this is true. Yet still, at the end of the day, are they the best we can do for our girls?

So, what am I trying to say here? Ladies, you are being watched. Don’t worry, not in a ‘walk holding your keys pretending to talk to someone on the phone’ kind of way. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you don’t need to become a crusader for female empowerment. But a little bit of time here and there, maybe volunteering in a community or school program, or simply spending some time with a cousin or neighborhood child, all while simply being yourself, has the potential to change a girl’s world. They will admire you even more when they see that you really are being your true self and not someone that other people want or tell you to be. Don’t let this stress you out, but don’t waste this opportunity either. I don’t want to say you owe it to them, but I don’t think you’ll regret it either.

If each generation takes a little bit of time to nurture the next one, we will unleash even more of the incredible, positive power that already lies within all of us. Young ladies, you can help unleash more of this power than you may realize, and our girls are waiting for you to go and turn that key together.

Role models can inspire. Campaigns can motivate. But if we want all girls everywhere to rise up, then we must find them, befriend them and support them. –Queen Rania of Jordan