New Grads: Welcome to Your Professional Brand
I have education on the brain, both my own and that of thousands of new graduates entering the marketplace this month. With anticipation, I am certain, the education will be bidirectional ... they'll learn new marketing maxims from my colleagues and me, while they teach us just how Millennials tick. It's fascinating to see Baby Boomers' dominance in buying power (likely to continue for some prolonged time) and our impact on the nation's value systems for living, leisure, work, family and community pass to Generation X and Millennials (and the Pluralists who will follow them).
There'll be no shortage of excitement in all of this. During the past two weeks, I've been to two college commencement s, and two meetings on how direct marketing organizations can be more attractive to young professionals, all the while preparing for a Marketing EDGE summer internship who starts in two weeks.
In both graduation ceremonies (at Keene State University and the University of Connecticut) the commencement addresses were dedicated to examples of lifelong learning and employment where there is a social purpose. For those of us in marketing, we may exist to sell something — but to create a customer is truly a wonderful thing. There is social and economic value in this exchange — and I would maintain that to create, sustain and grow customer relationships is a very attractive proposition as a career choice. That customer may be a client, donor, card member, member, patient, caregiver, user, traveler or other representation of a "customer." In the process of creating such relationships and experiences, there are jobs, revenue — and hopefully satisfaction — generating very positive outcomes. Maybe this and of itself doesn't fulfill a college graduate's expectation of creating social value to the world, but it's a start (and certainly any employer who facilitates charitable activity in the workplace is playing the right tune).
I continue to be astounded by what new college graduates bring to the marketplace. Because of internships and creative curricula that keep pace with marketplace demand, many grads have outstanding job-ready skills — and an immediate ability to ask informed questions — on Day One. (During college, I worked at summer camps, retail counters and restaurants — confident in my skills — but hardly attractive on paper.) Today, I see graduates well on their way to building for themselves a personal and professional brand as a marketer.
To them, I say "Congratulations" and let's get started... and I'll be sure to report back on how that bidirectional education is going!