The undergraduate degree has undergone a great deal of scrutiny in recent years. Many job experts believe that most degrees that come from traditional liberal arts schools are too generic. Employers are looking for day one skills, and universities/colleges are teaching abstractions that only apply well if they are continued into a Master’s degree or some other advanced education program.

Even then, there are a limited number of professions available to people who stay in the world of abstractions. This is especially true in “soft disciplines” like marketing, which is becoming increasingly more technical. Automation technology, machine learning and AI are just a few of the concepts that require a background in certain software packages in order to fully utilize. Yes, pure creative is still very valuable. However, the best creative marketers these days filter themselves through a martech stack a mile high.

With all this in mind, how can you really cultivate marketing as a skill right out of college? Do usable skills now take longer to mature?

Not necessarily. However, the savvy individual now realizes that school, no matter how reputable, cannot be responsible for your education in total.

The question becomes now, what is school responsible for, and what does an individual owe to himself if he is looking to work in modern marketing straight out of college?

The Individual Learns Software

Universities will teach basic software packages, but you cannot expect your school to look into that bleeding edge open source project that is just getting off the ground on GitHub. Only the best schools will have the latest iterations of industry standard software packages. It is not the school’s job to understand how companies link third party expansion apps to a core program, either! If someone wants to work in marketing right after school, she must take the initiative to learn the software.

The Individual Learns Creative
A paintbrush is only as good as its painter. The individual cannot get the essence of marketing, creative, from school. No one can tell you how to use the martech that now rules the marketing profession! Every student must find his own style and apply it in a unique way in order to get jobs right out of college. The best way to do this is to involve yourself in marketing projects outside of school, hopefully with a team. You will learn the equally important skills of negotiation and compromise.

School Gives Structure
A talented individual looking for a job needs to learn the structure of the corporate office. There are politics that affect the creative in marketing. Marketers must also learn how to market their ideas to decision makers. Where do you learn this? You learn it delivering project lectures to the professor in class!

School Gives Inspiration
There is nothing better for a student than to be surrounded by like minded people with the energy to learn. There are plenty of online marketing classes that you can take to learn the technical aspects of the martech stack. You will probably take much longer to learn the material because you are not surrounded with people who are reaching for the same goal.

Keep the perspective above in mind when you are considering what your next move is. You certainly can work in marketing straight out of undergraduate school. It will take extra effort on your part, but the people who know how to combine the advantages of school and individual study will win the day.

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