Archive for November, 2011

Dan Smith | Marketing Jobs Startups Can Fill with New Grads

November 27th, 2011

"I got work to do, I got a job yeah." - Vanessa Williams

This post is brought to you by Dan Smith, VP Marketing at CampusLIVE. Stud. Beast. Monster. Killer. Dan has been mentoring students interested in Marketing Analytics in Boston for the past ten years in Boston. He is a great resource for students interested in becoming the best in marketing analytics in tech. And Dan writes...

I've been getting this question often: "What types of positions in marketing are available for students graduating from college?!?!"

Well. Here's the deal. It's certainly no easy road to obtaining a job in this market, but before you start looking, you need to know two things: 1. what to look for and 2. where you fit in to the master puzzle. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at several early stage companies over the past few years. And I’ve done a ton of hiring. First as a Director of Online Marketing at BuyerZone, then as the VP of Marketing at Gazelle, and now as the VP of Marketing at CampusLIVE. I have a pretty good idea of the types of marketing skills early stage companies need, especially consumer focused ones. Here are three jobs that I’ve hired for in the past that are obtainable by students coming out of college. I've also included the skills that I hire for in each:


1. Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Analyst

A. Responsibilities: Data analysis, Reporting, Managing “beginner” paid acquisition channel

B. Requirements:

i.       Analytical and problem-solving skills
ii.      Logical and critical thinking
iii.     Quantitative dominance
iv.     Ability to do math without a calculator
v.      Solid communication skills
vi.     At least moderate creativity
vii.    Classes in Math, Econ, and/or Business (nice to have)

For this position, I look for a quantitative stud first and foremost.  You gotta have the analytical chops to pass the test, and if you can’t do math without a calculator, get learning. The great thing about paid online marketing channels like Google Adwords is that if you have an analytical and quant mind, you can learn it fast, and you’re gonna love it.  So I don’t need you to have tons of experience, because I can train you quickly if you have the right mind. It’s not all quant fun and games though, you also have to be able to communicate and have at least some creativity, because you’re gonna be writing ad copy.


2.  Marketing Manager/Marketing Associate/Marketing Coordinator

A. Responsibilities: Production of marketing materials, Event management, Copywriting, Catch all for whatever else needs to be done

B.  Requirements:

i.       Creativity
ii.      Excellent written and oral communication
iii.     Borderline OCD organization skills
iv.     Project management skills

You need a creative and organized jack-of-all-trades in every start-up marketing group. Sometimes this is difficult to find, because creative people may not always be the most organized, and vice-versa. But I’ve been able to find a few right out of school. I look for someone who has extreme attention to detail, because they’re going to need to manage lots of projects, from producing postcards and posters to executing events. You need to be able to communicate well, because you’ll be dealing with vendors. And you need to be creative, because you’ll be writing lots of copy and working with designers. If you can’t describe projects you’ve managed soup-to-nuts, you’re not gonna cut it. And if you can’t come up with a few creative ideas on the spot, it’s not gonna work.


3.  Community Manager/Social Media Manager

A. Responsibilities: Customer care, Facebook and Twitter management, Building and fostering the community

B.  Requirements:

i.       Excellent written communication
ii.      Natural connector
iii.     Experience with personal Facebook and Twitter accounts
iv.     Caring nature and organizational skills

There’s no way around it these days, every company needs a presence on the social networks. And every company needs someone who fosters the community and looks out for the customers and users. I look for someone who cares about people first and foremost. You need to show how you can connect with people and understand their needs. You also need to be a genuine social media user (not someone who just signed up for twitter a few days before an interview). If you come in for an interview and talk the entire time, you're not the guy for this position. The best candidates for this position spend way more time LISTENING and PROBING for answers they believe can tell them more about the interviewer. These people GENUINELY LOVE LEARNING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. But you also have to be organized. There’s a lot of interaction to manage, and it can get out of hand quickly.


Besides the requirements above, there are 3 things I look for in anyone I hire:

1)     Work ethic and drive – This is an obvious one, but at an early stage company, slackers won’t survive.

2)     Proactive/taking initiative – I cannot stress how important this one is. I need people who will not wait around for direction, but instead will look for opportunities and seize them.

3)     Project management – Executing flawlessly is critical, because there’s no time for a re-do. And if I have to micro-manage someone in order to get a project done right, I’ve just wasted a ton of time.

If you believe you fit into one of these three areas, my advice is to first go online and research up, down, left, and right as much as you possibly can about the positions. If you believe you have what it takes to be the best in the world at one of these, contact me: If we're not hiring, I can still give you good advice to transform yourself into a monster beast.



The Top 5 Places to Look for Scholarships at UMass Amherst

November 22nd, 2011

"Money money money money." - The O'Jays

Does this story sound familiar? You enter college knowing you are going to be paying a ton of money in tuition, fees, room and board, etc. Four years of it in fact. Not to mention parking, entertainment expenses, money you'll spend on girlfriends / boyfriends / friends in general. You'll pay for parties. You'll pay for textbooks. Shit, by the time college is through, you've paid a lot of people a wholeee lot of money.

Here's a word I want you to repeat over and over again: SCHOLARSHIPS.

Anyone who knows me well knows that while in college I was TENACIOUS about applying for scholarship. If there were war mongers of the scholarship application process, I would be Ghengis Kahn, except that I like women, not dudes. A student last week asked me where I found all of the scholarships I applied for in college when I was in school. Well, with no further adoooo.... here they are:

1. Isenberg Scholarships:
2. UMass Alumni Association:
3. Commonwealth College:
4. UMass Scholarship Database:
5. College of Social & Behavioral Sciences:

These five links allowed me to win over 10 scholarships in college. It remains one of my proudest accomplishments. And it can easily be a proud accomplishment of your own as well. Don't pay for school if others can for you. It just makes way more sense to not go into debt.

If you have a link to scholarships that you would like to share with everyone, let me know and I'll include it in the post. For example, if you were a Nursing major or ECE major, etc, let the people of the world know where you can apply to their scholarships and awards. Just post in the comments below. Sound good?!?! Soundsssss gooooooooooood.

1 Comment

Awesome Intro Video to Lean Startup by Eric Reis

November 15th, 2011

I've been really diving into this Lean Startup way of thinking, and I can identify with it through and through. Mostly because of the scarily similar problems we've dealt with in building our own business, and also through the massive opportunities I see that await when looking through the correct lens. I hope that I can help influence young people interested in building a business / startup / product to dive into this as well. If it is able to help even one person learn faster than they normally would, I will have accomplished my goal. To make all of this easier to consume, please watch this video. Maybe toss it on in the background while you're hacking through homework, while you're lying in bed, while you're ready to relax and listen to something truly great. Then dive into it more for yourself.

For more information on Eric Reis and Lean Startup, check out his blog here.


College Students in Boston Ask About Cover Letters

November 9th, 2011

Alright gangsters. I received a bunch of really great emails / comments / posts / everything from my recent resume post. Glad to see people are digging this and working hard to get out there and land jobs. Work. Ethic. I love it.

I got a lot of questions asking about the infamous "cover letter." The question I got most was: "How should I write a cover letter / what should go into it?"

Word. Let's solve this little puzzle.

First of all, I'll start by saying that I believe "cover letters" (an actual one-page letter that sits on top of a resume) are close to useless in my line of work. 90% of the time, a cover letter should be replaced by an email (with a resume attached). The other 10% of the time is most likely because you're applying COLD (aka... the "send and pray" method of applying to jobs) through a job board like or some other site. I'm not a big fan of applying cold . It wreaks of future failure, and in the world of probabilities, simply does not put you in strong contention. But, if you do have to apply cold, I suggest still using my same format below.

So, here's my advice for the 90% crew. Write your cover letter email / letter like this. THREE PARAGRAPHS gangsters. Three.


Hi Jim,

I would like to submit my application for the position of Associate Product Manager at CampusLIVE. I was recommended to apply by Bob Bobinski. Bob and I grew up together in Andover, MA and he is a close friend. I've been speaking to him daily to hear his input on your company, your market, and your recent developments. It all sounds very exciting.

I believe I am a great fit for CampusLIVE. While in college, I have worked hard to excel in athletics (as a three sport Division-1 athlete), academics (as a Finance and Engineering double major), leadership roles (as Co-Founder and President of the Entrepreneurship Club), community service (as Fund Assistant to the World Peace Nonprofit), and entrepreneurship (as Project Manager at Wyziwiz, Inc). I have taken it upon myself to venture far beyond the classrooms of UMass in undertaking leadership roles, and have done it with extreme persistence.

I understand that the position at CampusLIVE calls for someone who is a leader. Someone who can handle many things at once and who has initiative. I believe I have all of these attributes, and I would love to prove this to you. I would very much appreciate a few minutes of your time to discuss this position. Please let me know what day and time works best for you. I will make myself available for whatever is most convenient for you. Thank you sir for the opportunity.

Kind Regards,

Ryan Durkin



WORD! There are a few things I did there. And I'll write them out to make my points.


  • I introduced the email with "Hi." Not "Hey." Not "Hello." Not "Dear" ... "Hi." Use "Hi."

Paragraph 1: Say why the HECK you're writing.

  • I began by saying why I am writing. "I'd like to submit my application."

  • I then mentioned a person who recommended I apply. If you are applying cold to all of your positions, you're bound to get a cold response back. Instead of going in cold... go in "warm." Find someone in the org structure who works there and get 10 minutes of their time. Impress them. And tell them you're thinking of applying for "x" position. If you can't impress someone within the company, how are you going to impress the guy running the show (who has dollars and cost saving on his mind at all times)? Get them to believe in you and use them as a reference. It will make a WORLD of difference. 9 out of 10 hires we make here come out of a recommendation from a current team member. 9 out of 10.

  • Show your excitement by actually saying the word "excited." --> "It all sounds very exciting."

Paragraph 2: Say what's so special about YOU and show you're a LEADER

  • Say that you are a great fit for the company. Don't wackweed around it. Say it. --> "I believe I am a great fit for CampusLIVE."

  • Then. Write one big long sentence by bolding topics that you excel in and then in (parantheses giving the bolded word some detail). --> Ex: "athletics (as a three sport Division-1 athlete), academics (as a Finance and Engineering double major)...". This is a really effective way to show that you are a renaissance man/woman in a short amount of space. After reading this paragraph, the job interviewer / HR person will be saying: "Holy smokes. This kid's a beast."

  • In the concluding line, mention that you are striving to "venture far beyond the classroom in undertaking leadership roles." Who doesn't love someone who is a nerd, but who also has work ethic across other areas of their life? Everyone loves that!


  • Mention that you realize the position calls for "a leader." Every company is looking for leaders... not followers. So say it, as straight forward as you can.

  • Mention that you know the position calls for someone who can "handle many things at once and who has initiative." This shows that you can clearly take on a ton of stuff and also are super excited to take on more work (without being told to do so, which is the KEY).

  • Challenge the interviewer / HR person to take you in for an interview: "and I would love to prove this to you."

  • CLOSE the deal! Close the damn deal! Your goal as an applicant is not to APPLY. It is to CLOSE. Close the deal by asking for their time. For a day and time that works for them. Tell them that it is at their convenience. And that you will work around their schedule.

  • End with "Thank you for the opportunity." A job is an opportunity. Show that you realize that by SAYING IT.

  • Signature: I always go with "Kind Regards" for first timers. If I know someone well, I end with Regards. Whatever your closing signature is, include it, and stick to it. I suggest "Kind Regards,"

  • Put your name after the signature.

BOOM. There you have it. Cover letters / emails in ten minutes or less. Shazam!

Now, tell me what you think.


Meet the Rockstar Developers of Massachusetts

November 9th, 2011

CALLING ALL DEVELOPERS: developers in startups, developers in college, developers in big-biznass, students interested in development, people programming in their basements, people coding in their bathrooms, people hacking in their attics, under bridges, in coffee shops, or completely buck naked running through the streets.

All you gangsters are welcome.

I'm real happy to be supporting a great event sponsored by the Mass Tech Leadership Council. On Tuesday, November 29th, powerhouse developers from in and around the Boston community will be converging at the NERD Center at One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA to meet with student developers (and students interested in development) from Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, UMass, BU, BC, Bentley, Babson, and more.

This is an awesome opportunity for young people in the community of Boston to learn from developers who have built successful companies and really neat technologies. They will share their lessons learned, what their users and customers are saying about them, and what unique opportunities exist in and around Boston. This is a great opportunity to hear from people building the future of Boston tech and learn from them.

For more info and to register, visit:

Below is a flyer for the event. We hope to see you there!

Rockstar Developers Flyer v2 (1)