This is gonna be the new category for my blog:" Tips from the Pros" I will interview with some of the professionals in the marketing field from different companies, and they will share their opinion about the career in marketing/ advertising. I will post two "Tips from the Pros" every month. At the end of the post, I will also making the announcement for the next guest, so if you have any specific question for him/her, remember to leave your question through comments!
So, please welcome the first professional for "Tips from Pro"- Chris Ee!
Hello Chris, it’s very nice to see you, could you please introduce about yourself including where you are from, what you do, and what company work with?
Sure, my name is Chris Ee, and I am the lead digital and social analyst of The Marketing Arm (Omnicom) which has offices in New York, Texas and LA to name a few. We service a range of clients from well-known CPG brands such as Mars and Blue Diamond to healthcare clients to retail including Gamestop and Victoria’s Secret among other household brands.
I came from Malaysia about eight years ago and studied in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania before moving to NYC to pursue my career in marketing. While I can’t say that I loved my time in Oklahoma, it proved to be really important in my journey as a marketer.
What do you mean?
One thing that people always forget, especially as marketers in major cities is that 90% of the population aren’t from places like New York or Chicago. So when are trying to market to your audience, you have to keep in mind that people come from very different backgrounds and experiences – and it is up to the brand to try to relate and understand their target customers.
Got it – That must have been a valuable experience. How did you get your first internship in the marketing field?
When I graduated moved here to New York City about five years ago, I knew no one. I had no support system, but I came here knowing that I needed to push myself and get out to network with people within the industry - And for marketing, I think there is nowhere better than New York City.
I remember having 2 jobs and working from 9 AM to 9 PM, Monday through Saturday for nearly 6 months. I had one paid and one unpaid internship – both were in digital marketing, but I was actually more interested in the work I was doing with the unpaid one, but I needed income to sustain myself and get relevant experience in the field. It’s challenging making it in the field as an international, as we not only have to face a lot of challenges with obtaining a work visa – you’re also up against some of the best and brightest in the country. Everyone comes to New York City.
I remember at times applying for 40-50 different jobs and I would get maybe 10 interviews – That still didn’t guarantee me an internship, never mind a job. I worked extremely hard to get them too – Apart from randomly applying to all these jobs, I remember doing everything from maintaining a blog to showcase some of my thoughts on the industry, to tweeting and participating on Linked In groups on the topic and attending networking events all in the hopes it would land me something. I had to hustle.
And how was your experience when it came to networking with industry professionals?
It’s extremely intimidating. As a recent graduate, I was going around meeting people and thinking “Crap – what value can I provide to these people?” I think there’s a bit of a stigma attached to the idea of “networking” when you’re a student. It may not always be true, but I’ve found some people think of it as a means to an end, just go get a job. People think they network “just to get something”. With this mentality, people go in thinking that this is something they HAVE to do, rather than with the mindset of meeting people within a common industry that they can have genuine conversations and exchange ideas with.
When networking, one of the most important things to be able to come up with a unique point of view, and to have some perspectives on current trends. This is so that when you do meet with people, you can come across as an intelligent and thoughtful individual as opposed towards someone who just “parrots” what everyone else is saying. When you are able to build on conversations, people can tell whether you have a canned response or if you’re a quick learner who can think on your own feet – and that goes a long way as it reflects one’s ability to think critically.
It was this very thing that gave me the opportunity to work for a social media agency right when social media became a “thing” (When Facebook became increasingly popular). I was lucky as I was able to capitalize on a trend when it was first emerging, but it came about as I was networking with people and that has served me extremely well as I have met some amazing friends and mentors along the way.
That’s fascinating, and great advice! Taking a step back – I am curious – Why did you get into this field? Is it for the money, or are there other reasons?
Being honest, there isn’t a lot of money in marketing. I would say you could earn quite a bit more in finance and other fields, but a large part of why I’m in this field is because I’m passionate about it. I remember back many years ago in Malaysia I told my dad that I want to get a degree in psychology because I love the ideas of understanding how people think. It’s like a puzzle and you’re trying to piece all these parts together and figure out why people behave the way they do.
I got reprimanded by my dad and he just said “listen, if you are interested in psychology, at least, go for marketing” – and a compromise was struck. My brothers were in chemical engineering and in pharmaceuticals, more “traditional” careers, so I was definitely the black sheep of the family in that regard.
Malaysia is a multi-cultural country, compromised of multiple ethnicities. Growing up in that community and having been fortunate to travel to 19 different countries, I was able to observe how people from different walks of life behave differently – and I think being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes is really what the fundamentals of marketing are.
Thanks for sharing that! I think a lot of people who enter the marketing field have the same points of view, so it was interesting to hear. So now that you’ve been in the industry a while and have had time to reflect on things – What would you say are the skills that helped you land your first job?
Well, it would be different for everyone depending on the kind of role you’re looking for in the industry. I came from search marketing internships, so I was always heavily involved in analytics and the numbers. I was good with numbers, but the one thing I really had to hone in on was how to communicate effectively and tell stories with it in a way that is easily digestible.
Hell, it’s something I’m still trying to work on today! It’s just a matter of practice makes perfect. I cannot stress the importance of soft skills. While hard skills like analytics are critical, it’s the minimum to make it in any industry. It’s not enough to be “passionate” and have a desire to make it in a city like New York. The standards here are very different than most other places.
Everyone is smart. Then you have to compete with people who are smart AND good looking. And then, you have to throw in the people who are smart, good looking, AND are charismatic with a great personality. You need to hone in improving yourself all the time and work on those soft skills.
All great points, thank you. Before we wrap up – Is there any other advice you’d like to share as it pertains towards networking?
I think a lot of students, in general, are afraid of saying something wrong. People have this fear of saying something that would make them look stupid. To be honest, though, that’s how you learn. When you talk and try to articulate ideas, you are forced to think critically about things, which informs how you view a topic. It’s also important to have an open and healthy debate as what the other person may share could also inform your point of view on things. The challenge is trying to find the right balance between having an opinion and be able to defend it and being open to new ideas.
The thing to remember is that everyone is human. Sincerity is important as people can tell if you’re there just to ask for something, or if you’re there to learn and genuinely engage with them. From my personal experience, if you showcase that you’re sincere, intelligent and have a great work ethic – people are always willing to give you a chance.
Martin Murphy- Global Client Lead @Twitter; Former Managing Director in Ogilvy& Mather NY; Former Management Director in Ogilvy& Mather Shanghai.
Question for him? Ask me through comment below!