It seems that to get anywhere as a young professional you have to earn a university degree in a related field. But whilst having a degree in marketing could help for a career in digital marketing, going to university isn’t the be-all and end-all if you want to work in the sector. There are many paths to success when it comes to planning a route through the digital marketing world, and yours doesn’t have to involve a bachelor’s degree.

So what can you do to kickstart your digital marketing career, and how have others achieved that success?

Developing The Skills

If you’re coming in with no experience, where do you start? One of the best ways is by teaching yourself about the basics, and you can do that through free online courses and resources available online. You can learn what SEO is and what the difference between on-site, off-site and technical SEO is. You can also understand the difference between PPC and paid social marketing, and you can learn how to do email marketing.

Apprenticeships are also a great way of learning whilst having hands-on experience in a digital marketing environment. With more companies wanting to be visible in the digital space, the demand for digital marketers is there, whether working in a digital marketing agency or in-house for one company. And because it’s a constantly-developing field, there’s always room for learning, no matter how experienced someone is.

So what does a company look for in their digital marketing recruits? Kian Jones is the SEO Manager at DNRG, and he says:

‘When hiring, we’re always on the hunt for fresh perspectives backed up by a proven track record of success, either through their own work or from previous employers. For me, recruitment is a chance to give the team a shot of adrenaline, this comes in the form of someone with exciting new ideas that will help drive forward our digital offering.’

An Example of Success

Whilst it may seem impossible to find that job in digital marketing, if you develop the right skills, have a passion and drive for digital marketing and find the right company willing to take a chance on young talent, then it’s an achievable aim. Just take Amy for example.

‘Before finding my affinity for digital marketing, I studied for a degree in Biomedical Science and worked as an NHS Laboratory Scientist. However, by the time I completed my degree I had been working in the COVID labs for the NHS for almost two years, and I was a completely different person compared to who I was when I started university in 2019. While very grateful for the opportunity I was given, I felt it was time to move away from the laboratory.

‘This year, a close friend asked if I wanted to open a dance school with her, as I’m a competitive dancer and have been a dance coach since 2018. In the process of opening this dance school, we had to set up a website, social media presence, and email marketing campaigns.

‘Until this point, I had no idea what digital marketing was and assumed that marketing was just banner ads on websites and social media. I began spending most of my free time creating content for my dance school’s website and social media pages, as well as learning about different methods of digital marketing.

‘My friend suggested that I might want to look into a career in marketing since I enjoyed it so much and was already looking for a career change. However, I didn’t know how to start because I didn’t have a degree or any experience in the field. I soon discovered that many people who end up in marketing don’t have degrees in marketing, and there are different ways of getting valuable experience, including the work I had done on my dance school’s online presence.

‘I was looking for entry-level digital marketing jobs when I came across the job advert for “Digital Marketing Apprentice” at DNRG, a Bristol digital marketing agency. I read through the job description and thought that it was a great opportunity for me to get the experience I was looking for. I could work for an agency and get exposure to a wide variety of clients, whilst learning the theory I would get through a university course.

‘Gaining experience in marketing with my dance school in my spare time, which in turn helped me to get into the field with minimal experience through the apprenticeship. They both really helped me to get to where I am now. Without these opportunities, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this career, as I was not in a position to do a full-time university or college course in marketing.’

Nailing the Interview

Once you get into the interview room, whether it’s physically or remotely, that’s your chance to shine, it’s where you can demonstrate what you know whilst being able to convey your passion for digital marketing. So what can make your interview stand out, in all the right ways?

‘Preparation is key,’ says Kian. ‘It always stands out to me when someone’s done the work, as opposed to doing a quick Google search and breezing through our website. Take time to research your interviewer, dig through the company’s blog posts and social pages to find recent updates. From there you can turn this information into a handful of questions which show the interviewer that you are passionate about the role.’

‘Start conversations with your interviewer, rather than answering their questions then waiting for the next,’ adds Emily Walton, Paid Media Manager at DNRG. ‘It creates a better dynamic and shows you’re genuinely interested in hearing about their company, their clients and their processes.’

As well as learning about the company, its people and its culture, you should also identify your strengths, weaknesses and areas where you’d like to improve. It shows a huge amount of self-awareness and makes it clear to the interviewer that you’re willing and ready to learn and build on the skills you already have. You might also be set a task to complete prior to the interview, and this is an invaluable opportunity to show off your skills.

Your Next Steps

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what you can do to start your career in digital marketing, no matter whether you’re just leaving school or wanting a career change. Thanks to online resources you can learn about digital marketing in your spare time, and can even start projects to practise your skills. And you can learn on the job with an apprenticeship, a great way to develop your learning whilst gaining valuable experience in the industry. So even if you don’t have a degree in marketing or any degree at all, that doesn’t matter if you have the passion to pursue a career in digital marketing.