I was meeting with a soon to be graduate the other day. Like many other people, this individual was looking for a marketing role at an early startup after graduation.
When asked about which type of role, they responded “Strategy and Business Development.”
This is the exact same response I gave six years ago to those asking me the same question. It feels strong. It feels smart.
But it’s not the right answer.
99% of new marketing hires out of school will not be hired for strategy or business development.
Why? First, these are generally mid or senior roles. Next, most very early startups don’t need people focused on this. Marketing should support product, listen to customers, and run early acquisition and growth experiments.
So, what’s a better way to answer the question?
a.) Convey Your Passion
For better or worse, you’ll likely do a bit of everything as a new grad marketing hire. Make it clear you’re okay with this. Let potential employers know that you’re comfortable with being uncomfortable, that you are able to make a role when you don’t have a role.
b.) Pick a Focus
But… Also make sure you have an angle. An interest, experience in something in particular. Being the person who does everything, wears so many hats, etc. can only take you so far. Make sure it’s clear that you have a special interest or experience in something within marketing, too. Maybe that’s e-mail marketing, or maybe that’s an analytical mindset that lends itself to data.
After you do this, then become an expert in the area. This is what companies will look for when you’re ready for that Strategy & Business Development years later.
Strategy and business development are incredibly important. They’ll always be there. But, they won’t be your first job and you should align your expectations and goals as such.
Convey your passion, pick a focus, and then become an expert. This is the route to “Strategy & Business Development.”