The ultimate college student’s guide to marketing

Here is a handy dandy guide I put together of all the resources I’ve gathered from speaking with successful marketing professionals and marketing students ahead of the curve.

If you google, “what is marketing?” or any similar search terms, there is a high chance that the results will not provide relevant content to help YOU kickstart your career.

Finding what was right for me was a grueling process, where I ended up asking many questions, seeking out advice, and ultimately having to find everything on my own.

This guide will make your life a lot easier. I promise. So here are a few things that you’ll learn in this series.

  1. What is marketing?
  2. Is marketing for me?
  3. How do I break into the industry?
  4. What are the sectors of marketing and advertising?
  5. Personal Branding
  6. Valuable Marketing Resources


Okay, so this is a pretty important question.

At its core, marketing is the business of generating awarenesscommunicating a message, or establishing a brand to ultimately help a business grow. The common denominator here is to communicate and deliver the value of whatever you’re providing to your audience to achieve your company’s business goals.

Why is your product or service important? How do we deliver it to your customer in a meaningful way? How do we communicate our message clearly?

This all boils down to the four core concepts about marketing, also known as the Marketing Mix or 4P’s.

  • Product: What is the good/service you are selling?
  • Price: What is the monetary value of the product?
  • Placement: Where is the product being sold or distributed?
  • Promotion: How do we convince consumers to make the purchase?


“You have to be artistic” and “you don’t need to use math” are two of the most painful comments that I get about people who don’t know what marketing is.

Marketing is a highly entrepreneurial endeavor with countless sectors that continue to change each and every day. Whether you like crunching in numbers or you love to render designs on Photoshop, there is a place for you in marketing.

If you can’t stand sitting in your accounting and finance classes, I’d highly encourage you to read and explore this guide to see if marketing is right for you. Don’t be afraid to try something new or expect things to click immediately!

College is the time to explore — so expand your horizons and say yes to things. Once you find something that piques your interest, tackle it. Luckily there is so much free education online too, so build and deepen your knowledge and find whatever tickles your brain :).


1. Read

Reading and listening to podcasts to keep up with what’s going on in the news will put you far ahead of your peers. It doesn’t even have to be high-level stuff, just be curious and explore the psychology, technology, and ideas that are being talked about.

2. Network

Being a student helps a ton, you just have to be brave and diligent. The marketing industry is very-well connected and it’s most definitely a people business. We’ll go into tips and tricks later on.

3. Build or join something

Marketing is a hands-on craft. Joining a club is great only if you make the most out of it. Take up a leadership position and learn to grow your club by experimenting with your own marketing tactics. If you don’t have an organization on campus, start one!

If that doesn’t interest you, start a blog or build your Instagram. Do something to push your creative juices and give you a better understanding of people and creative messaging — as long as it’s a learning experience!

4. Find an internship

Finding an internship is hard and might sound daunting, but knowing the right people will open doors for you. I luckily went to a college in the city, so most of us were balancing school with a part-time internship. If the opportunities are there, try to find as much experience as you can early on.



Advertising is only one slice of the pie of the world in marketing. Advertising is ideating and carrying out campaigns that communicate a single and clear message, like a Superbowl Ad or a Geico campaign before your Youtube video. Many start their careers in an ad agency to hone-in on their skills and learn about how the industry works.

The firms that carry out advertising campaigns are called agencies. There are many types of agencies, but here are the major ones you need to know.

  • Creative: The thought leaders that produce the insight, design, and concepts behind an ad campaign. They usually outsource their production to another agency.

Popular Agencies: Ogilvy, Wieden + Kennedy, McCann Erickson, BBDO, Droga 5

  • Digital: Digital agencies are focused on producing campaigns on social media, mobile, websites, virtual reality and other channels through the web. Many digital agencies are focused on SEO, SEM, Apps, and Social Media.

Popular Agencies: Razorfish, R/GA, Blue Fountain Media, 360i, Digitas LBi

  • Public Relations: PR agencies manage the way a brand, product, or a service is portrayed in the media — whether it’s managing a major media blunder or building a brand’s image.

Popular Agencies: Edelman, Weber Shandwick, Ogilvy PR, Fleishman Hillard

  • Media: Media agencies take charge of the distribution of ads by buying places to show ads and then selling them back to people who want to advertise. Whether it’s on a billboard, TV, or on HULU, these guys find the pricing and best methods that communicate the messages in front of the intended audience.

Popular Agencies: Mediavest, OMD, Zenith Optimedia, Mindshare, Carat

  • Pharmaceutical: Being one of the largest sectors of advertising, pharmaceutical agencies are in charge of educating the public about drugs and types of healthcare that are on the market.

Popular Agencies: The CDM Group, Publicis Health, FCB Health

  • Brand Consulting: These agencies focus on repositioning or establishing a clearer brand message for new and existing brands.

Popular Agencies: Interbrand, Futurebrand, Landor, Siegel+Gale

Holding Companies

These are the larger companies who own most of the major agencies to help agencies collaborate and move in a singular strategic direction.

Major holding companies: WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic, Dentsu


Client side means working for the brand itself that usually hires an agency to carry out their marketing efforts. For example, working at Nike and helping manage the overall strategy of the brand.

Management Consulting Firms

These firms help other businesses and brands improve their performance by finding solutions to business issues. Although they do focus on the management side of things, they are emerging as huge players in marketing consulting as well.

Popular Firms: Accenture, Ernst & Young, Boston Consulting Group

Media / Publishing

Think of the New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Rolling Stones. Vaguely put, media companies are firms that produce content through mediums like print, websites, social media, television.

Personal Branding

This is going to be a term that will be drilled into your head so much by employers and professionals — so much so that you will despise it as much as I do.

Das me! ^

Das me! ^

You must treat yourself as a brand. You’re building your identity by communicating who you are and what you believe in to employers, colleagues, and friends, so when companies are looking for you, they know exactly who you are and where to find you.

This is integral as someone who is trying to break into the industry, you can become recognizable and stay top-of-mind.

To start building your personal brand, start by writing down who you want to be, what you believe in, and what you want to achieve. It will change over time so jot down what’s on your mind so you can work with something.

Start curating your social media profiles to match this. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, but be conscious of who you want to be. Express or explore a passion. Clean up your feed if you have to and take down inappropriate photos. Follow some industry professionals, build your LinkedIn, and start treating your online profile with care!

Valuable Marketing Resources

Number one rule: garbage in, garbage out! There is definitely value in going through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, but if you’re consuming mindless and negative content, you won’t be as sharp creatively and professionally as you can be.

Apps: Feedly, Medium, Facebook Feed Eradicator, Noisli

Advertising Reads: Adweek, Adage

Marketing News: TechCrunch, MarketingLand

Digital News: Digiday, MOZ Blog, Search Engine Land, ClickZ

Social Media: Copy Blogger, Buffer, Kissmetrics, Content Marketing Institute

Marketing Knowledge: Harvard Business Review, Hubspot,

Podcasts are the best way to make the most of your commute or gym time. Here are a few that I highly recommend:

The Bean Cast (Don’t miss this ever!), This Old Marketing, The Art of Charm, The Unmistakable Creative, The Social Pros

Closing Remarks

I hope this guide was helpful for you! I will be releasing more in-depth articles breaking down each section if you’re curious about leveling up your marketing knowledge.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and check out my current endeavor at

Stay tuned and thank you for liking and sharing :) Until next time.