Tips for Students on Building a Brand
I had the pleasure of speaking to the local PRSA chapter here in Columbus Ohio yesterday about video and the advantages to the medium in today’s world of digital media and public relations. My favorite part of speaking is after I’ve delivered the talk and get the questions people want to ask (but not during the Q&A portion). This video is inspired by one of those questions.
As a student life is freakin’ hard as it is. You’re going to school and studying constantly. You probably also have a part-time job to eat on a regular basis. And you want to make it big the second you get out of college so you don’t have to feel this broke ever again.
But unfortunately, even with a 4-year degree, you are not qualified for anything. Really you’re not. You have NO experience. It doesn’t matter what the education was that you got. It’s not the real world. It’s just the thing people want you to do so you can prove you’re ready for the real world. (Which I think is stupid, obviously.)
So when a student attendee at the talk yesterday asked me what she can do to get her name out there, I felt where she was coming from. I went through the same stuggle, only I was at a full-time job in an industry I thought I was going to be in forever when I discovered my passion for marketing. What the heck am I to do? I’m making money. I have bills. I can’t just bail and follow my dream. Mom would be pissed.
So I did exactly what I would tell this student to do. Work for free. Get anyone to offer you work. Try to get an opportunity on your own schedule out of your home or dorm. Get the experience and get people to vouch for you. That’s why they have these things called internships, but if you find an opportunity and they don’t want to jump through those hoops, don’t make them. Just do what they want and ask for them to brag about you in the end.
My first gig was totally free. I basically sent an email to the effect of “I know what I’m doing but I’ve never done it before. You’re new. You have no marketing budget. I’m going to work my butt off completely for free.” How are they going to say no to that? They’re now not a client, but there was not even one single project I took on for free (aside from a non-profit offering here and there) since.
The sooner you beef up your portfolio and work for free, the sooner you can charge. The sooner you charge, the sooner you can increase your price.
How do you get your name out there? What have you done to make it happen for yourself and not let anyone hold you back?