Advice for College Grads

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By Jeffrey Dobkin

13 Pieces of Advice for College Grads…

Ahh college… Best 9 years of my life!  Or was that high school?  I forget.  But that’s not what’s important now – what’s important is that you’re about to graduate!  I have a very pretty recently graduated intern who works with me at my publishing company.  She reminds me of my wife.  Every time I get a little too close to her, she reminds me of my wife.

A 13-point outline of advice to college students —

13. What happened to the good times?  They’re still around.  You graduated but they’re still partying-hard at school.  So my first piece of advice is… stay in school.

Don’t miss those grad parties – go to grad school.  Get a master’s degree.  Go on to get a doctorate.  Doctors throw killer parties.  You won’t be sorry.  The worst day in college is still better than the best day at an office.  Something like that.  Stay in school.

12. OK, if you need to leave, you need to leave.  But you have a lot of options — so put down that bong for a minute and think about each.

What environment do you like?  Country, small city, large city?  Metropolitan?  Suburban?  How about climate: cold, warm or something in between like changing seasons?  East coast, left coast?  Something in the middle?  Now’s the time to choose.  Or you can live at home – it’s free but… well, at least it’s free.

11. What products or services do you like.  What industry?  What markets?  What are you passionate about?  Retail?  Wholesale?  Mass marketing?  TV?  Service?  Direct marketing (my own geeky passion).  Internet?

Start to head over in that direction, but make sure you like the smell of that bath water because you’re going to be soaking in it for a while.  Follow your heart while you’re young before you get pigeonholed into some industry or a job you hate and can’t get out.  This statement will have great meaning to you once it’s too late: when you have a spouse and several kids – and a mortgage.

Columbia University10. What size firm do you wish to work for?  If you’re looking for a real job — larger firms will put you in a small cage and give you specifics of what you need to do all day every day.  And that’s what you’ll do – all day, every day.  Small firms will have you wear many hats while they scramble to engage clients and sell stuff.  Some firms are fun and interesting to work at; others, well…

9. Choose your job with an eye on where your title leads.  A job in “sales” doesn’t end up as a director of marketing or CMO, it leads to a sales manager position and finally a VP of sales. Make sure as you struggle up to the top there is a consistency that you’ll like in all the positions until you get to be king.  It always helps if you know someone high up in getting a position, and advancing through the ranks.  Hey, it happens.

8. Find a mentor.  A real mentor.  Someone who will share all their business knowledge and a few of their intimate hard earned business secrets with you.  That’s the real way to grow fast – to find a person that’s smart and successful and emulate her behavior.  Sorry, did I say her?  Must have slipped out.  Freudian slip. I meant him. Or… her is OK, too.  Really.

7. If you have a fire inside to be an entrepreneur, see #8 above first.  Learn how to do things the right way the first time. Take a year or two and learn from someone else’s experience – someone who’s been there, done that… successfully.  Make all your mistakes on someone else’s dime.  And learn how to make money.  Only then go out on your own.  Hell, I made plenty mistakes on my own in the first couple of years and wished I’d have taken this short (and less expensive) cut.

6. If you think you’d like to work in an industry – get all the facts: get and read the trade magazines and learn in depth about its innermost workings.

a) Go to the library and get Bacon’s Media Directory or Oxbridge Communication’s Directory of Periodicals at the reference department.

b) Write or call all the magazines in the industries you’re considering and tell them you want a “Media Kit.”

The Media Kit is what publishers send to potential advertisers – so, you were thinking about taking out an ad in one of those journals, weren’t you?  The publishers will send them to you right away – first class mail.

c) If they blow you off and tell you to see it online, tell them you’d need to see the actual magazines for “analysis,” and you need them to send you a few recent copies.  Ask for any directory they publish at this time – it will be free. Ask later and it will cost you.

d) If you like a particular magazine, fill out the
free subscription card and fax or mail for your free subscription.  Free is good.  99% of all trade magazines are free, if you know how to ask.

e) go to the industry trade shows and snoop around. Ask lots of questions to lots of different people.

5. After reading the industry rags and learning about the firms from the articles or ads and trade shows, write a cover letter to anyplace you think you’d like to work.  Ask them if there are any openings in your field of interest.  Some magazines even have job postings back in their classified section.

Give just a few of your top shelf qualifications and tell them to call or email to get your full resume.  Great hires are hard to find, if they really like you they’ll create a new job for you.  Here are some rules on this:

Dani Dobkin at MoMAa) Don’t send a resume first.  This is because if you don’t get any calls you won’t know if your resume sucks or if they really don’t have any openings.  Better to remain a little more silent and be thought a fool than to give too much information and remove all doubt.

b) Remember to include a cover letter when you send your resume.  Cover letters are just as important as the resume – maybe more so.  And don’t be afraid to call the firm to make sure all names are spelled correctly and you are reaching the right person.  Lots of people can say no to hiring you, only a few can say yes.  Unless you connect to one of the people who can say yes, your case is lost before you can begin.

c) Make sure your resume is perfect.  No typos or grammatically incorrect passages; and for heaven’s sake, don’t start every paragraph with an “I”!  Regardless of what anyone tells you, other than me of course: getting hired is not really about you – it’s really about what you can do for THEM.  It might be best to hire a specialist to create a great resume and cover letter for you.  Have him or her type it in Word, then you can make changes to keep it fresh and updated.

d) Keep in mind the function of the resume is NOT to get the job — it’s simply to generate a phone call.  The objective of the call is still not to get the job, it’s simply to get an interview.  So keep it short and make it rock.

4. If you had a job, you’d be working at it 8 hours a day.  Your pursuit of a job should take you 8 hours a day, too.

3. Don’t let your college education hold you back.  If you find all the jobs in your chosen field are awful – look at a different market or industry. There are hundreds of marketing classifications and thousands of kinds of jobs in each.

2. Don’t worry.  If you make a mistake and take a job you hate, with a boss you hate, or anything is less than great – relax.  There are thousands and thousands of awesome positions out there – get another one.  Like a lousy movie or a batch of bad lasagna, it doesn’t get better with time.  Move on.

1. If you’re interested in marketing yourself, or interested in marketing, direct marketing, advertising or PR – please read my cult classic book, “How to Market a Product for Under $500!” Find out what real-life, practical marketing is and how to do it – in just a few nights of easy reading.  Best book on marketing ever written.  And it’s not just my opinion, it’s… OK, it’s my opinion.

While I try to write with a fun style, you can actually learn hundreds of tips and techniques on how to market yourself, your inventions, or your business on my business website.  I wrote some serious marketing books too: check them all out on Amazon or better yet – at… and buy them too!  Hey, I need the money! Just kidding – you don’t have to buy my books.  Just send the money.

Jeffrey Dobkin on Train

Jeffrey Dobkin

Jeffrey Dobkin really did write 5 books on direct marketing, and two titles on humor. His other website offers well over 200 pages of marketing information written in his own brilliant conversational style of writing.  Dobkin can be reached at 610-642-1000, except when it’s nice out – then he takes out his motorcycle and goes riding. Life’s too short to work all the time.  His firm – The Danielle Adams Publishing Company – offers writing, creative services for direct mail; marketing plans, advertising, graphic layout and design, and consulting.  Dobkin also personally writes some powerful direct mail copywriting, along with creating traditional marketing materials like direct mail, letters, brochures, collateral, PR, annual reports and of course website content and article writing.  Email Jeffrey at “jeff at”  Thanks for reading all this, and recommending our site to your friends.  Hope you are enjoying it and not finding it too, too terribly offensive.