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Switching to a Marketing Career: 5 Tips From Someone Who Has Done It

Melissa Marcello


If you're anything like me, you have a lot of interests and you've had a hard time settling on just a single career path. The good news, however, is that this is the norm, not the exception, and employers are banking on seeing more 'career switchers' in their applicant pools. In fact, some employers may actually prefer someone with a more zig-zagged path to their door, as the individual brings with them a host of experiences and perspective that could be leveraged in new ways.


Benefits of Working in the Marketing Field

Before I share with you tips from my own zig-zagged pathway into leading a high-performing marketing team at a college, I'd like to outline some of the benefits of working in the field of marketing. You might say I am a bit biased, but isn't anyone who truly enjoys their work? 

Top Reasons to Work in Marketing:

  1. The marketing field is exploding with opportunity! The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs will continue to grow, and at rates higher than many other professions.
  2. Marketing technology is constantly shifting, meaning one never gets bored, and organizations are investing in ensuring their employees have the top skills they need to be successful marketers. 
  3. Nearly every organization out there has someone in a marketing or communications function - typically many different people. Choose your industry, and it is very likely they have people working on their messaging - both internal and external, website, email content, advertising and more.  
  4. Marketing and communications is collaborative, and marketing teams (sometimes referred to as "marcom" teams) are full of creative people who enjoy their work. 
  5. There is room for everyone in the marketing field, as there are both highly specialized marketing roles, like SEO specialists, marketing analysts, digital marketing strategists, social media strategists, web content managers, event and experience planners, marketing project managers, UX/UA specialists, email marketing strategists, web designers and web programmers; and there are also more generalist roles, like marketing managers, communication managers, directors of marketing, etc. 


5 Tips for Making the Switch to Marketing

I should start by saying, I did have a brief stint in marketing after returning to college to finally complete my bachelor's degree. But, it barely counts, as it lasted less than a year, and I was doing little more than printing off materials and putting them in binders for insurance agents! It's just not marketing as I know it today - not even close. 

When I did finally make the real switch to marketing, I had held positions as a retail store manager, server in casual and upscale restaurants, recruiter for secretarial services, stringer for a newspaper, insurance agent, telemarketer, and survey researcher while in a graduate program. Most of these experiences offered me something that has helped me in my marketing career, although the survey research role probably offered the most.

Below, I have outlined some of my top tips for switching to a marketing career.

  1. Write, write, write. Get experience writing by starting a blog or contributing to someone else's blog. Writing is a critical skill that every marketer needs. And, a portfolio of your writing is something a future employer will likely want to see.
  2. Gain experience through volunteering for a marketing role with a nonprofit organization. I've done this numerous times, and it has helped me to bulk up my resume and LinkedIn profile while gaining valuable experiences I could talk about in interviews.
  3. Develop your skills by learning to use marketing tools for free. There are so many free online marketing tools out there competing with the big guys (like Adobe, Marketo, and others) - download and learn to use them. Master super basic marketing skills, like posting to social media, cropping images, uploading images to a website, optimizing copy for websites (i.e., SEO), creating and sizing banner ads, and/or developing a email drip campaign, for starters.   
  4. Demonstrate your marketing prowess by branding...yourself! Create your own aspirational marketing pro tagline. Use it on all of your social presences like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Start following influencers in the field of marketing and communications, and demonstrate your curiosity by responding to their posts with thoughtful questions.
  5. Consider taking a short course, completing a certificate, or even pursuing a fully online bachelor's in marketing and communication, or other related discipline, to develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the field of marketing. I was able to put my quantitative skills from grad school to work in marketing, but there are times I wish I had more of the marketing fundamentals down before entering the field, particularly as a career changer.

About the Author

Melissa Marcello

Associate Vice President

Melissa Marcello is Associate Vice President of Champlain College Online, where she oversees marketing and admissions, truED, Champlain's workforce development program, and other administrative processes. She is passionate about adult learning, having returned to school herself as an adult to finish a bachelor's at USF, master's at Purdue, and start two years of a PhD program at the UW Madison that she may one day complete.

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