SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
1. Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
I have a Bachelor Degree in Marketing and a Masters in Marketing Communications and Information Systems. I've been working in Marketing for the last 16+ years, and transitioned into Social Media seven years ago. I've worked with start-up clients right through to billion dollar, global brands, spoken at international conferences, and now I'm focusing on helping artists and creatives grow their own businesses and brands through social media.
2. Is this something you always saw yourself doing?
Well Social Media didn't exist when I was growing up or in University so no I didn't. I didn't even know too much about Marketing when I was younger. I started out studying a degree in business and economics and decided it wasn't for me, so switched to Marketing because it had the same pre-requisites and I wouldn't lose any course credits. It turned out that I loved it and I've been doing it ever since.
3. What are the different career paths someone can take if they want to enter this field?
Social Media jobs for corporations are in fierce demand and there aren't too many companies that fully recognize the value, yet. So my advice is to build up your expertise in any way you can, so when one of those social jobs with a high-profile brand comes along you can get your foot in the door. Volunteer to set up and run social media programs for local charities, or sports groups. If someone in your family owns a business offer to help develop a social strategy for them. And document all of your successes along the way so you can demonstrate that you know what you're doing.
I would also consider getting any marketing or communications jobs you can along the way - social media is a subset of marketing after all, and the same basic principles apply. Plus it is much easier to convince a company that you should set up a social media department for them if you already run their marketing! That's how I got started. I was already running marketing and PR for a company and decided we needed to add social media to the mix. I got that going and then transitioned over to solely looking after social.
Having hired a lot of social media interns, specialists and managers over the years, it isn't enough to have your own strong brand on social any more (although that is important), you have to demonstrate success managing social media in a business setting, and show that you've worked with budgets, run social ads, and can build communities around a brand.
4. What skill sets do you wish you had learned in college that you didn’t?
I wish I'd learned more about project management, setting and working with budgets and some of the more real-world, and less theory-based knowledge that I've had to acquire along the way.
5. Any final words of wisdom for those who are just beginning their careers?
My advice might sound harsh, but if you're prepared and know what to expect you'll be happier and get a lot further in the long run. So, expect that you'll have to work hard, put in long hours, in jobs you may not find completely fulfilling, for little or no recognition....for quite a few years. You have to prove yourself (especially when you're starting out), and develop a reputation and your own professional brand. I've met so many young people straight out of college, that expect to be given the best opportunities and pay raises every six months and then they get bad attitudes when they're expected to work hard and don't get handed everything they want. Those people are not the ones I end up giving the good opportunities, cool trips, extra responsibility or promotions to. Volunteer to do the things no one else wants to do and you'll quickly become a valuable asset.
6. Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Still running my own successful business, consulting, setting my own hours, and helping as many people as possible with the knowledge and experience I've gained from working 100 hours a week for other people for the last 16 years. ;)
7. Finally, if you could have only one type of food for the rest of your life - what would it be?
Rubios Fresh Mexican Grill gourmet tacos — they are a little slice of heaven, and we don't have a Rubios where I live unfortunately.
For over 16 years Jessica has brought marketing expertise to large international brands, government agencies, and startups alike, holding positions within the marketing leadership teams and working to build brand and product campaigns for companies such as General Motors, Raytheon, Westfield, DLA Piper, General Dynamics, Robo 3D, LifeProof and OtterBox. She has served in an advisory role on marketing and communications strategy to the Australian Department of Defence, AirServices Australia, and several start-up companies. Jessica holds Bachelor degrees in Management, Marketing, and Photography in addition to a Masters in Marketing Communications and Information Systems. She is also currently studying a Masters in Fine Art and Illustration.
Growing up in Australia, Jessica moved to California in 2012, to help launch and grow the LifeProof brand. With LifeProof joining the Otter Products family, she relocated to Colorado, and took on the role of Social Media Director for both LifeProof and OtterBox before branching out to start her own consulting business.
Jessica also loves fashion illustration, art, and travel and you can find her online under BrownPaperBunny art studio and SweetDivergence travels.
You can find Jessica at: