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8 Tech Industry Leaders Offer Their Best Advice for New Grads

Marisa Sanfilippo

You may have read my article ‘How to Get Started in Social Media and Content Marketing’ that offered my personal advice for new grads. I’m kicking things up a notch. Some of the marketing industry’s leading professionals I admire generously offered their expert advice on how to make it. Read on for their inspirational and motivational quotes.

“People are going to look at what jobs pay the most, what the best opportunities are and what jobs are out there. They tend to look outward instead of inward. My advice is: Find what are you passionate about and what are you great at. Don’t think about the money or the job opportunity, instead, think about what it is that you love to do and become really great at it. Love what you do and be passionate about it. A lot of people won’t dive into something like video, but just know, you will be awful in beginning. If it’s what you are passionate about, keep working at it and just keep driving.” - Chris Yates

Chris is a video content creator for brands and agencies. He has spent more than 20 years in broadcast TV and is a 4 time Emmy winner as a reporter, anchor, producer and editor.

“Strive for excellence in your work. Don’t assume anyone will notice. Build relationships by helping others. Rinse and repeat over and over again.” – Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and host of Social Media Marketing podcast.

“Never stop learning, especially with digital media. Much of the info in textbooks is outdated by the time it’s published. – Mack Collier

Mark is a social media consultant, trainer and highly sought-after speaker on social media and customer-engagement topics. Mack specializes in helping companies use social media to better connect with their customers.

"Don’t be afraid to start small! I watched several of my fellow classmates hold out for a job that none of us were qualified for and in the end, they ended up re-setting expectations long after most of the jobs had been gobbled up. Get in, do great work, and the awesome will come your way." - Jolina Pettice, Vice President, TopRank Online Marketing

Jolina started at TopRank 10 years ago not long after graduating with a degree in PR and Journalism. From there she worked her way up through multiple positions managing programs for Fortune 1000, 500 and 20 clients. 

Tech Industry Leaders

"For too many years, digital noise has been the majority of what SEOs and the online community has produced. Focusing on the search engines figuring out ways to cut corners, game the system and save a few bucks - instead of focusing on the users. When creating content I subscribe to the 80/20 rule; 80 percent user experience, 20 percent search engines. Over the years I found this to work – resulting in great content that users like and can also succeed in the search engines." – Brian Hughes

Brian left the pharmaceutical industry to chase his passion for helping businesses through SEO and web design. He was mentored by his SEO hero Rand Fishkin and now runs his own digital marketing and web design agency, Integrity Marketing & Consulting. He also writes for, Moz, and Small Business Trends.

“The search and social media industry is fast-changing which makes it perfect for new-comers. There's always a place for new perspectives and new tactics. I've seen newbies succeed very fast (within a few months!) thanks to having an original insight into the industry. It's actually harder for old-timers to adjust to the always-new trends than it is for the new-comers. The only secret is just be yourself and be excited. It always works!”- Ann Smarty

Ann is the self-taught search and social media marketer with almost 10 years of experience in the industry. She is a professional industry reporter at Internet Marketing Ninjas blog,,, etc.

“I suggest that any recent college graduate who is looking for their first job in marketing should be on all social media outlets. If any, LinkedIn is a must as HR and job recruiters use it as a tool to search for potential candidates. Another great way to network and to meet new people are through Twitter chats. There are Twitter chats for almost any subject including marketing, PR and social media. These chats involve all types of students and professionals that can benefit from building a relationship with one another.” - Aaron Kilby, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Artison Colour

Catch Aaron on #MediaChat every Thursday evening at 10pm EST (he’s the founder and host)!

“It is never too early to start building your personal branding, you want to show your potential employers that you have already started to learn about the industry and can put theory into practice.

  • Be aware of what is already out there about you. Google your name and images associated with your name. You may need to change your privacy settings and delete some photos!
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is filled in as completely as possible; add that you are looking for a job in your headline. Elaborate about the type of job you are looking for in your summary.
  • Create a professional Twitter profile in your own name if you don’t have one already.
  • Find and follow/connect to people who work in the industry already, read, and share their content
  • Start posting industry-related content on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Find out hashtags for conferences/summits and attend them virtually by following the hashtag. Follow everyone who uses the hashtag.
  • Find out if there are relevant Twitter Chats on at certain times. Turn up and contribute to the conversation. Follow everyone who uses the hashtag.
  • Find relevant groups to join on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and interact with members
  • Create a blog and start writing content about SEO, SEM, or social media and share via social media.
  • Learn how to use SEO for your own blog.

Some people in the industry may measure your Klout score which in effect is a measure of how interactive you are on social media so it is worth connecting all your accounts and being active on all of them to increase your Klout score.” – Nicky Kriel

If you’ve already started getting into the world of social media books, it’s likely you’ve heard of Nicky. She’s the author of ‘How to Twitter for Business Success.’ In addition, Nicky is a social media coach, trainer, speaker, and Twitter Chat co-host). Catch her on #surreychat on Saturdays at 9 am.*

Times given in Eastern Time.

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As Content and Social Media Marketing Director of Fortune Web Marketing (an Internet marketing agency based out of New Jersey) Marisa helps businesses large and small in a variety of industries get found and look and sound good online. When she’s not glued to her computer screen, she dabbles in photography and painting.
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Brian Hughes
Great post, Marisa! Thank you so much for including me. Yes, this material needs to be taught and used at the collegiate level. Keep up the great work Marisa - you are an inspiration.
Cherry Kwan F
I was a fresh grad last year and I definitely think that Universities lack in including these type of resources for university/college students. From my experience, I think these online resources are much more effective and interactive way to learn about marketing than textbooks. I didn't really pay much attention to online resources or even Twitter during my school year, so I'll definitely share this article on my network. Thanks for a great article Marisa!
Marisa Sanfilippo
Cherry Kwan F
Thanks so much! I felt the same way when I graduated. My college's career center was wonderful but I really had to seek out mentors. Hopefully this advice will make the job search much easier for recent grads of today. Appreciate your kind comment and offering to share.
Spell check "Don’t be afraid to smart small!"
Kathleen Garvin
Kaia Ellis
Thanks for the note! Fixed.
Awesome. Expanding on Nicky Kriel's comment: "Find out hashtags for conferences/summits and attend them virtually by following the hashtag" This is something people forget. For the cost-conscious, by attending events virtually you save travel time and expenses. In most cases you can add your own tweets with the hashtag as long as you know the conference attendees will appreciate your tweet. I've done it before and got RT'd and favorited by important people. So it depends. you might totally want to go to some in person for sure. If you can curate a list of IRL events in a niche, you're doing people a favor because there seems to be a shortage of that. Plus, it looks good as a skill (curation)
Kathleen Garvin
Alex Yong
Great points!

As for virtually attending events, I see more and more recap posts go up during events as well. It's almost like you don't skip a beat by not attending!

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