Career Profile: Econ Major to Account Manager
First Job Out of College: Account Manager at Sequoia Technologies
Current Position: Social Account Manager at Oracle
When I first started college I wanted to be a doctor, it was what I planned on doing ever since I was young. I decided to major in Biology and started taking the pre-med courses, but after two years I realized that it wasn’t for me after all. I switched to Economics because it seemed like a solid general major and I thought maybe I could go into some kind of consulting, but I had no idea what to use it for exactly. For me, college was more about learning to manage a workload, not about learning specific job skills.
I was unemployed for 3 months after graduation, and it was very discouraging. The economy was awful and overqualified people were applying for entry-level jobs, which meant with no experience, I had no chance. I mostly applied for jobs I found online, and was applying to at least 15 per week, but I never heard back from most of them.
Finally, I met with one of my father’s friends who worked in venture capital, and his firm had invested in a start-up company that was hiring marketing interns. He put me in touch with them, and I ended up doing a paid internship – low-paid, but paid – for a few months to get experience while I looked for something permanent. Once the internship experience was on my resume, I was able to get my first “real” job at Sequoia Technologies as an SEO account manager.
I’m sure I got the job at Sequoia because of how extensively I researched before the interview. I learned everything I could about the company and what they were doing, what their products were; I researched the role itself, all of the specific duties that were involved and how I thought I could do them. There was some really technical stuff, and I couldn’t master all of it, but I saw they were impressed. My experience was weak, so I had to make up for it by showing them how passionate and interested I was. And that goes a long way. After all, you can teach someone new skills, but the interest has to already be there.
If you work at a company that provides a service or product to a specific client, that client is considered an “account.” The account manager is the client’s personal liaison to the company; we’re their support, we show them the value of the product (much like a salesperson) and how we can help them meet their business goals. In my case, I was an SEO Account Manager, which meant I showed my clients how to use my company’s tools to drive more traffic to their website.
My favorite part of the job is building those important relationships and making sure the client is happy – there’s real satisfaction that comes from making someone’s life easier and their business run more effectively. Obviously then, my least favorite part of the job is dealing with unhappy clients. No one likes it when someone is constantly complaining, but it comes with the territory.
Account management has a lot of room for growth: there are Senior Account Managers that deal with the bigger clients and make the most money for the company. I’ve been making lateral moves in my career so far, but I would eventually like to take on a management role and lead a team of other account managers.
Be patient. It’s really hard to infiltrate a position with no experience, and you certainly don’t learn this stuff in school. Do independent research: read up on the digital marketing industry, on new trends and technology, everything you can. When it comes to getting an interview, leverage your network the best you can, and be thoughtful about sending cover letters and resumes – take the extra time to personalize them, something generic ends up in the trash. At lastly, be open-minded when it comes to possible opportunities. For me, taking the low-paying internship out of college was not ideal, but I couldn’t have gotten where I am without it. Just like your college major doesn’t dictate your career, your first job won’t dictate what you do for the rest of your life. Rule out what you don’t like and find what you do. There’s no rush.
Written by Wes Janisen