The decision you make regarding your first job is important as it will influence and shape the rest of your career. The good news is, there are many opportunities out there for marketing and communications graduates who work with a zest for the job.

Here are 10 tips to help you better prepare yourself for this challenging role.

1. Know your strengths

List them down and evaluate the types of job functions that suit you most. Do you write well? Consider positions that involve writing, editing or scripting. The relevant job titles include copywriter, Internet journalist, editor and scriptwriter.

If good time management is not a strength yet, avoid jobs that demand strict time keeping. Positions like marketing executive, project manager and assistant producer require you to be extremely meticulous, detailed and task-oriented.

2. Evaluate your goals

Your first job sets the pace for your later career life. Do sit down and evaluate what you really want in life. If you want to rise high up the corporate ladder, the general rule of thumb is to get a job in a reputable MNC. Once you are associated with a large company, this will give you good leverage for subsequent jobs.  

You should also consider  the nature of the job. Are you interested in venturing into advertising account servicing, client marketing, public relations, research or journalism? All these issues need to be sorted out early in your career. Once you start in a client marketing position, you may not be able to switch to an advertising role in the later part of your career.

3. Use social media to network

New social media have redefined how people network today. Making friends and building alliances is much easier with fewer barriers to entry.

Use your Facebook account to your advantage. Try to do a search and add people who are marketers and/or practitioners currently in the industry. Most people are very open to making friends on Facebook. Once you establish the connection, it is easier to let them know that you are searching for a job in the industry.

4. Take on jobs in SMEs

If you have been unable to get a job in an MNC and cannot afford to wait much longer, consider taking employment with smaller companies, design houses or event companies. This is an opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

In a smaller set-up, you will learn to multi-task and pick up broad-based skills in administration, logistics and even human resource management. Smaller companies are also more willing to hire fresh graduates. If you find a good employer who is willing to groom you, don’t hesitate. Accept the job. 

5. Know the trade

Build your knowledge of the industry. Learn about its jargon, practices and key industry personnel by reading trade publications. If you want a career in marketing, read journals such as Marketing Magazine and AdAsia and make sure you are up to date with their news reports, journals and editorial pieces.

If your interest is in public relations, study the media industry in Singapore and analyse different reporting styles. For example, The New Paper and The Business Times have different content and reporting styles that appeal to their target readership. 

6.Get recommended

Ask your lecturers for recommendations. Many are still in touch with the industry and will be able to link you with their contacts. You’ll be surprised how helpful these gestures can be in helping you find employment.

7. Make your CV portable

Save your CV on a thumb drive and carry it with you all the time. A chance encounter can turn into a possible employment lead, and you can impress your contact by being able to e-mail your CV immediately. Remember in the marketing and communications industry, it is all about speed, networking and referrals.

8. Start your own agency

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and good communication skills, you can consider starting your own company. You can provide services like translation, copy-writing, designing, media relations, web design or project management.

Don’t be too fussy about selecting customers. See them as opportunities to learn your trade. Build your base and try to generate more awareness about the services you offer.

9. Go for enrichment courses

In the midst of your job-hunting, continue to beef up your skills by attending courses on media relations, negotiation skills, effective business writing and crisis communications. 

10. Attend trade events

Trade events are a great way to meet people in the industry and to get employment leads. For example, the Marketing Institute of Singapore organises monthly gatherings and talks for marketers in Singapore. Participate in alumni events and look for opportunities to talk to senior members who might be potential mentors or recruiters.

Take charge of your own career. While finding your dream job is important, you have to be realistic about your expectations. Your focus should be on getting as much work experience as possible and doing your job well so that you will be more marketable when the time comes for you to move on.