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Career Spotlight: From Recent College Grad to Digital Advertising Specialist

Around this time two years ago, I was in my last semester at Elon University and about to graduate with a degree in marketing.  Like many other seniors, I was worried about what my future would look like. Good fortune was with me, though, and I landed at CDR Fundraising Group soon after, where I enthusiastically began my career in direct response and fundraising.

Recently, I was invited to speak on a career panel for the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMA-W). The purpose of the session was to provide professors with further insight on how to best prepare students for their nonprofit journey. I left the panel realizing I wasn’t alone in trying to figure out the best way to transition from being a student to a full-time fundraiser.

As a Digital Advertising Specialist, I manage various advertising accounts and develop strategy for many of our nonprofit clients, including Shriners Hospitals for Children and The Fund for Animals. When I started at CDR, I served in a more general role as a Digital Account Coordinator. That position provided me with exposure to many different areas of digital marketing—including advertising, which I enjoyed the most. I was able to move into my current position after a year and have been so fortunate to be able to tailor my path based on my interests. This, along with the organization’s great culture and a stellar team, are some of the things I pke most about working for CDR.

Below are some tips I discussed during the DMAW panel on how to find a job in fundraising and build your career within the industry:

Take advantage of experiences, classes, and internships that will be able to translate professionally

During my senior year, I took a digital marketing class in which I had to become Google AdWords certified and participate in the Google AdWords Challenge. This challenge allows students to run a paid search campaign for $250 and report on it. This direct advertising experience and certification played a huge role in why I was hired.

Apply for jobs you might not be qualified for or 100 percent interested in (yet!)

If you learn of a job opening that requires more experience than you have, apply anyway! Many times, employers will still be open to hiring recent graduates. You should also apply to jobs that you may not be 100 percent interested in based on the ad’s description alone. There is always more to the story. The worst thing that can happen is it doesn’t work out, but you will still gain valuable interview experience from it and move on.

Know the industry

One thing many employers ask about, especially in an industry like direct marketing, is how you keep up-to-date with trends and changes. Being able to cite specific sources of information and examples of ads, emails, and commercials you’ve seen from nonprofits will set you apart.

Show your passion

Working in fundraising means you will be raising money for nonprofits with various missions. It’s important to show your passion, since that is the core of what we do. I made sure to highlight the fact that I was very active in the service learning center at my college to demonstrate my commitment to nonprofit-type work during my interview process.

I am so happy I found CDR Fundraising Group during my job search and am grateful for the amazing professional growth I’ve experienced during my time here. While there are many career resources out there, I encourage anyone who is looking for a career in direct marketing or fundraising to check out our career page for opportunities!

Brooke Faison