To provide up-and-coming marketers with crucial marketing career advice that will get them to that next step, Modern Marketing Today sat down with Danielle Rogers, a Federal Marketing Specialist at SolarWinds and asked her about the best strategy for breaking into the job market. Danielle sheds light on the importance of a holistic, open-minded approach in the marketing arena and how far that seemingly needless experience can really take you. Here’s what she had to say on breaking into the marketing biz.
Chelsea Barone, Modern Marketing Today (CB): Tell us a little about your background and your role at SolarWinds.
Danielle Rogers, Solar Winds (DR): I graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s University with my BA in marketing back in 2008. I officially began my career in marketing in 2011 with a medical device company. At that particular point, I was supporting both their sales and business development team. From there, I had heard about an opportunity in northern Virginia and I was looking to expand my role within the medical and IT fields, so I relocated to northern Virginia in 2014 and got a few years of experience under my belt there.
As I was getting more comfortable in the IT field, I began seeking out new opportunities and I happened to hear about an opportunity with SolarWinds. As I was reading the job description for SolarWinds, I decided it would be a great next step for me. So I joined the SolarWinds team in July of 2016 and my primary role with them is really focused on lead generation. I support a variety of campaigns – from webinars, to user groups, to sales plays – and with these initiatives, our primary objective is to expand and engage our client reach within the federal market space. Any way that we can utilize our channels to get our message out there to a broader audience is my main goal.
CB: What are some of your skills you’ve found to be most important in building your career?
DR: I would say with every position I’ve taken, the most important skill I have learned is to always look for forward motion. I like to reflect on my progress after spending some time with the company, and evaluate my performance. I start by making a list of what I have accomplished and what have I learned. It’s a good way for me to effectively self-evaluate and ask myself from the time that I started this position to six months down the line or eight months down the line, How far have I grown in my role with the company?” The moment that I feel that I’m becoming stagnant or I’m no longer growing in my skill set, then comes the point where I really weigh out the options of either staying in my current position or starting a new chapter elsewhere.
When I first broke into the job market after college, I was so fixated on landing every job that I applied for. But looking back on that now, for certain opportunities, you have to hear the word “no.” That can be a good thing because it will help you in the long run and encourage you to take risks and really look at what’s out there. It’s a good thing to be able to take it in stride and ask yourself, “Where do I go from here? How can I build and become better and get closer to where I want to be in marketing?”
CB: Which habits should new marketers be building from the beginning of their careers?
DR: First and foremost, have an open-minded approach. Open yourself up to taking different kinds of jobs, even if it’s not ideal. Before I got my foot into the marketing field, I had a series of administrative jobs and I can’t tell you how many times I felt like certain tasks were just a waste of my time or that taking that job was a mistake. But looking back at it now, those experiences and those jobs that I thought weren’t a real fit for me were actually the building blocks that I have used to get to where I am today.
It’s common to think “Where do I see myself in x amount of years?” and when you’re trying to build up your credentials as a marketer, it can be frustrating when your ideal job is still a few years down the road. But if you focus on the steps along the way and building that skill set and really evolving, it only builds up your experience and increases your value as a marketer and a job candidate as a whole. I thoroughly believe in having an incredibly diverse skill set because you don’t know when you’ll need to draw on those past experiences down the line.
There are so many tools out there that aren’t necessarily labeled in marketing and the more experience you can get, the stronger you can be in the field because our field is so diverse and there’s so much you can do with it. Any experience that you can get by putting yourself out there in different fields can only be an advantage to you.
CB: What secrets do you have for staying ahead of the game as a marketer?
DR: There’s always a new skill set to be learned, especially if you’ve been in the field for a few years. There really is no time limit on learning, particularly in marketing because no matter where you are in the market, no matter where you are in your field, there’s always going to be progress and innovation and evolution. It’s important to stay engaged and stay fresh, whether that market is IT or government or whatever your field may be. We’re extremely lucky to be in an age right now where resources are so tangible. Taking the time to stay on top of what is new and what’s developing is crucial. We’re so interconnected and that makes it that much more to stay involved and stay tuned in. Leveraging that interconnectedness can only make you better because the more informed you are and the more engaged you are, you’ll always be one step ahead.
It’s such a great time to become a marketer. There’s so much to take advantage of and by researching what is out there, you could find exactly what’s right for you. Never take for granted that we have all this at our fingertips because that’s what makes us sharper and more engaged. It helps us continue building upwards.
CB: What would you encourage budding marketers to focus on in order to stay competitive throughout their career?
DR: Relationships are key. I view marketing as a holistic approach. You need to be able to work hand-in-hand with so many other roles, especially when it comes to sales. I feel like sales and marketing have this dovetailed relationship that we need to keep very open and very transparent. It’s when you collaborate that you can understand what your co-workers do and it makes you better at your job. You can then, in turn, understand all the moving parts that build up a company business model and how you contribute to its growth.
Each department has a function and if you’re only focusing on one piece, it can close the door on how sharp your campaigns could be. As marketers, we want to be engaged and informed and aware. Without that information and understanding of where everyone’s coming from, it can hurt you because your vision of the full approach is limited. If you can’t draw on the knowledge of how all the pieces work together, your campaign may not strike as hard or resonate as well as it could. And beyond strengthening the campaign at hand, being open-minded and being engaged with who is around you really grows and matures your position in the company.
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