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How To Get A Job In Digital Marketing As A Placement Student

This post was written by Alex Bennett, Inbound Marketing Specialist at Firebrand Training

People spend twice as much time online as they used to 12 years ago. As consumers become more active online, businesses must now invest in digital marketing to reach them. Because of this, digital marketing professionals are in high demand: 76% of businesses now suffer from a shortage of digital skills.

To break into the industry after university, a relevant placement can be invaluable. Balancing job hunting and university commitments can be a challenging task – but landing the perfect placement will make it worthwhile.

At Firebrand Training, we regularly interview and recruit digital marketing placement students from universities across the country. These are our tips for getting a job in digital marketing as a placement student.

Understand digital marketing

Before you begin to craft your perfect covering letter and CV, take the time to understand the areas, technologies and skills that make up digital marketing.

While you won’t be expected to have mastered every aspect of digital marketing, an awareness is crucial. Before interviewing, make sure you’re confident that you could provide an overview of the primary digital marketing channels – like paid search, SEO, email and social media.

Digital marketing is massive and without a thorough understanding, you could find yourself blindsided during an interview by unknown terms or concepts. It will be clear to an interviewer when  you haven’t researched their industry.

Play to your strengths

Digital marketing is a varied and exciting industry that cover distinct careers, appealing to different people. From an analytical paid search expert to a creative content marketer, you have the opportunity to work across a variety of roles and technologies.

Because of this, it’s critical you consider which areas of digital marketing interest you the most. You’ll probably find that the areas you’re passionate about are those you are the most skilled and knowledgeable in. Once you really understand the distinct areas and skills within the industry, you’ll likely find one that interests you and aligns with your strengths.

If your passion hasn’t yet led you to research and improve your knowledge of these areas, it’s not too late to start researching (read on for a list of our top digital marketing blogs and publications!)

When you’re searching for placements, look for roles which play to your strengths and interests. You’ll find it easy to talk articulately on something that you are passionate about.

Next, make sure your CV and covering letter highlights this. For example, if you’re a competent writer (a skill that lends itself well to most digital marketing roles) emphasise your ability to generate clear, concise and error-free copy for the web.

Decide what you DON’T want to do

Placement opportunities will come from any company of any shape or size. When choosing which applications you want to pursue, you may find it helpful to first think about what you’d rather steer clear of.

Smaller companies may give you more control over your projects, whereas larger companies may support you more with office perks or social benefits. Get employed by an agency and you’ll work for multiple clients, potentially across a number of industries. Alternatively, working for an in-house marketing department will mean focusing on your own company’s products and services.

Deciding what you don’t want to do and working backwards from there will help you more effectively target the roles you really want.

Stay current

Once you’ve built up your general digital marketing knowledge, it’s crucial to keep it up-to-date. The tech industry evolves fast and digital marketing is no different.

Of course, the internet is the best place to stay current. Read up on the latest trends with these popular digital marketing blogs and publications:

Candidates that demonstrate an understanding of current industry trends, innovations and technologies will impress. Whoever interviews you will know that using an outdated digital marketing technique can have catastrophic consequences for their business. Put their mind at ease by proving you’re in the know.

Research before your interview

This advice could be applied to any interview, but it’s particularly crucial when interviewing for a digital marketing role. Figure out how to answer the question: “What do they do?” – if you can’t answer a question like this, you’ll have a hard time marketing the company.

Make sure you also know why you want to work for them. Do you believe in the product? Does it excite you? What do their customers say about them? Who do they compete with?

Answer these questions by scouring their online presence, including their website(s), social media, external publications (like press releases) and email newsletters. Depending on the type of business, you may also want to mystery shop them and get your information directly from the organisation.

During this process, you should get a good idea of the digital marketing channels used by the company and to what extent they are utilised. You might even be able to suggest improvements if asked during the interview.

You’ll also find it useful to look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. By doing this you should be able to get a good idea of their job role and previous experience – valuable context for your interview and a good way to prepare for your face-to-face meeting.


Secure your placement at BMW

Would you like to work for the world’s top-selling luxury car maker? BMW offer over 20 student placements across marketing communications, product, press, finance and aftersales, so you will definitely find something to suit you! To find out more about what it is like to work for BMW read about Scott and Ellis’ experiences on this blog.


Before applying for a placement with BMW, make sure you read our top tips from current student Ellis:

1- Be Authentic.

BMW’s corporate culture is all about being yourself. Telephone interviews and assessment centres are relaxed and are focused on your interests and experiences. It is encouraged that you work flexibly to ensure a good work-life balance throughout your placement, and that you are also true to your personality in the workplace!

2- Know the Brand.

Commercial awareness is essential whether you apply for a placement in marketing communications, product, press, finance or aftersales. Do you research about BMW and its competitors and this will pay off throughout the application procbmw-ho4ess.

3- Be Open to Other Roles.

Although you may have a set role in mind when applying, BMW may not agree that you’re right for that specific placement. However, if they think you are right for the company they may offer you another role across marketing communications, product, press, finance and aftersales. So stay open-minded! BMW is a great company to work for and whichever role you end up in you will get a wide range of unique opportunities throughout the year and get to work with many other business areas.

4- Show them you are Different!

BMW are looking for innovative young people to break down the old ways of working, simplify processes and move towards a flexible working culture. Don’t play it safe during the application process. Showcase your creativity and how you will be a key component of positive change in the

Applications for BMW placements 2017/2018 are open now until 4 December 2016.

To find out more and to apply for a placement at BMW, visit



CV is the first impression of you

In the below video, Peter Czapp from The Wow Company talks about the importance of CV, what they look for in a CV when recruiting new talent and tells you what you can do to make sure you’re successful in this first step of the job application process.

Do you want to know more about this award-winning accountancy firm? Visit their website to learn more!

The Wow Company


4 Extra-Curricular Activities that Employers Love

Are you stuck for extra-curricular activities to add to your CV? Perhaps you don’t know which of your experiences is worthy of mentioning, or maybe you’ve not yet got round to taking part in anything outside of your degree. In this article, we’ll look at four activities outside of your course that employers love, providing you with inspiration for writing your CV, or new ideas for activities to apply for in September.

1. Doing charity work

Taking on charity work is a great way to show your passion for a cause close to you, as well as providing an opportunity to learn new skills relevant to your future career. Charity work doesn’t always involve fundraising or providing frontline services, there are often opportunities to take on a volunteering position with the management of a local charity, teaching you valuable business skills such as a good email manner, project management skills or event planning.

A volunteering role such as this is a great way to fill any gaps in your experience, for example if you were unsuccessful in applying for a summer internship. You may have to go without pay, but don’t forget that even a day or an afternoon a week during term time can be enough for you to learn many of the useful transferrable skills mentioned above.

2. Actively learning new skills

A highly sought-after trait of new hires is being a self-starter when it comes to learning new skills. If you regularly spend time learning new skills outside of your degree course, you’re able to demonstrate that you’re willing and able to fill any gaps in your knowledge, which can really help to reassure your interviewer if you don’t yet have all the skills necessary for the job you’re interviewing for.

SKILLSThere are two types of skills you may wish to teach yourself. Firstly, extra-curricular skills can demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded person, for example learning first aid. Learning this life skill shows you have a willingness to become a resource to your community, and is also relevant to the business world, since organisations need a number of trained first aiders in the building as part of their first aid obligation. If you have a first aid certificate already, check it’s in date, as due to a rule change, an out of date certificate means you’re no longer a first aider.

Second, is learning a skill relevant to your industry that you may not have gained through your course. For example, if you’re looking to get into digital marketing, you need to learn industry-specific skills which are not on offer on many courses. Show you’re worth hiring by learning these skills before you get on the job training, which can be done for free with online courses by Google and other providers.

3. Show off your writing skills

Even if you’re not looking to enter a career in journalism or copywriting, the fact is that many roles require strong writing skills, for example for communicating ideas in presentations, writing reports, or creating specifications for products or campaigns.

One of the best ways to showbusiness-writing off your written communication skills is to write for the Wessex Scene, the Tab, or other publications such as a blog on a topic you’re passionate about. Bringing a portfolio of articles authored by you can really help set you apart from other candidates who may simply rely on their CV to demonstrate their writing skills.

To gain even more credit with the interviewer, consider writing on a topic relevant to the industry you’re looking to enter, demonstrating not just your writing skills, but also your passion for the career you’re aiming to begin.

4. Taking part in relevant societies and student groups

Employers love to see candidates who have actively tried to expand their knowledge about the industry they’re looking to enter, and a great way to show this is by joining a club or society relevant to your career plans. For example, if you’re looking to become a web developer, then why not join the Electronics and Computer Science Society? Or if you’re looking to become an engineer, then taking part in the Engineering Society can help show your passion. With over 300 societies to choose from, it’s well worth taking a look for one relevant to the career you’re looking to enter.

Your level of involvement in these groups is also of significance in your interview. It’s always best to join just one or two societies and take on a leading role, such as becoming a member of the committee, than joining 5 or 6 and not attending regularly. A deeper involvement in a club means you’ll learn more transferrable skills such as financial skills or time management, which you can put on your CV and discuss in your interview.

About the author

Seb Atkinson graduated in 2011 and is a first aider writing for the Safety First Aid blog, which provides helpful advice to first aiders and first aid volunteers.

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Your Placements Team x


Not just a ‘day job’…

Caroline is one of our students who is currently half-way through her placement with IBM. She gives us a little insight into what else she gets up to alongside her daily tasks…


At the beginning of my placement, I had fairly limited knowledge of the IBM (aside from knowing their 2013 revenue figure, having read the annual report relentlessly for interviews – needless to say that wasn’t the first thing they asked me about), so with very little idea as to what corporate life would be like, I tried to ignore the prospect of having a dull 9-5 office job.

7 months later and i’ve discovered that these preconceptions are very inaccurate, and no two days are ever the same. Although I love what I do as part of the PR team at IBM, and the work is constantly varying which always gives something new to try and learn, the variety of working life comes primarily from the 100+ interns working with me in the London Southbank office alone (300+ nationally). I count myself incredibly lucky to have this network of interns available in the office for entertainment when a break from ‘real work’ is needed, and consider it one of the best aspects of my placement year.

We were recently all together for a major IBM event, the Business & Developer Connect which was held at Twickenham Stadium last November. As interns, despite not being given the most glamorous jobs, the opportunity to spend time and work together (in this case 18 of us for 2 days) doing something outside our usual day jobs is well worth the effort involved in getting from opposite ends of London by 6.30m – no mean feat. The perks were definitely meeting Tim Henman & Will Greenwood!

Caroline post


Other good opportunities to make the most of placement year have been to get involved with “GiveBack”, something which IBM (and I would assume the majority of large companies) actively encourage. “GiveBack” is any charitable act to benefit anyone – which, as you can imagine, leaves a fairly substantial list of possibilities! For example, activities i’ve taken part in since joining have been:

  • Working on the University of Southampton careers fair stall
  • Running an IBM Graduate Assessment Centre
  • Teaching science experiments and cooking lessons to children at an autistic school (definitely the best day off work!)
  • Becoming a STEM Ambassador – helping to mentor girls to encourage careers in science, tech, engineering and maths (a slightly ironic role for me as, as a marketer, I was never a huge fan of the sciences).

Despite being a slightly random collection of extra-curricular activities, taking all the opportunities available has given me so much more variety and interest other than my normal day-to-day job, which is exactly what placement years should be about!

Your FBL Placements Team x