How can a Greenhorn get experience?


In this economic climate, competition for jobs is stiff. What should a smart, hardworking recent graduate of a business school program do to try to get a job that will give him the experience he needs to diversify his skill set?

I've got an engineering undergraduate degree and 2 years of related work experience and now an entrepreneurial business master's degree that I want to utilize to work on the sales/marketing side (as is recommended in other posts). However, it seems like no company is willing to train someone when they have so many applications from others with more experience.

Marketing Sales Hiring

asked Oct 11 '09 at 02:18
Jason Evanish
83 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • My company just hired a junior developer who couldn't answer any of the questions. He was hired because of his enthusiasm and he showed that he was willing/eager to learn and also because he wasn't afraid to say "I don't know". Not sure if that helps but it goes along with @Jason's comment about "Combat with entusiams" – Dustin Davis 12 years ago

6 Answers


Work at the smallest company you can find.


  1. Transparent. It's hard to hide things with 4 people, so you get to see how everything works.
  2. Sharing. Knowledge-sharing happens automatically in small groups.
  3. Exposure. You'll have no choice but to become adept at varied tasks when there's not enough hands to go around.

How do you get hired with no experience? Combat with enthusiasm. Combat with a good reputation score on this site to prove that you're thoughtful and curious.

answered Oct 11 '09 at 02:21
16,231 points
  • Totally agree with the idea, but how do I find them? I've been going to many of the networking events in Boston, and haven't been finding many of those. Most small startups seem to already have the one or two business related people they need (they were co-founders) and are loaded up on exceptional technical people or are a software/web based startup and since I don't have a CS background, I can't help them either. – Jason Evanish 14 years ago


You have an entrepreneurial master's degree and want to help companies on their sales/marketing, and you have 2 years of professional experience? It sounds to me like you are in a great position to advertise yourself to companies all over the country as a sales/marketing consultant. I see you already have a blog with some great content, as well as an impressive LinkedIn profile. Perhaps you could start another blog to target a niche market that you feel comfortable in. Your personal blog appears to speak to colleagues rather than potential customers, and I can't say for sure, but companies may not be eager to hire you (as a consultant) just because you write on your personal blog. Take my advice with a grain of salt, as I haven't been in the same position as you. (I skipped college and have never had a shortage of work.)

  1. Find a niche
  2. Research your niche. Find community sites where they congregate. Find the movers/shakers in the field. Subscribe to and comment on their blogs and forums.
  3. Launch a website (under a company name) to target the niche
  4. Practice inbound marketing. Learn everything you need to know at and buy the Inbound Marketing book.

    4a. Write an ebook/free guide written to solve a problem within your niche. Give it away on your website for free when they submit their information. Now you have leads!

    4b. Start a blog on this new company website and create valuable posts. Interview industry experts, post videos of yourself, and write commentary about news, conferences, etc. in the niche. Repeat no less than once a week.

    4c. Join the community and take all the IMU classes for some really great education that will be relevant to your new service offerings.

  5. Try Laura Roeder's strategy to offer your services for free and create demand out of thin air. You'll have to give her your email address to watch the video, but it's totally worth it. It doesn't hurt that she's incredibly good looking, but others have reported success using her strategy. (I found her from one of the copyblogger contributors who claimed to create demand for their new consultancy with her methods.)
  6. Think about "productizing" your services and posting prices directly on your website. This could be a great experiment to see if you have demand for those services without having to write up a proposal for each lead that comes your way. Of course you should be flexible and allow for upsells/additional services outside of the products.

It's a competitive market out there. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, you may find a much more fulfilling future by being your own boss.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 07:23
1,057 points


Easy: help out one of the 30 startup ideas here : make a difference, make one of them successful. That will get you noticed.

If nothing else, it will force you to apply theoretical skills (business school) to real-life situations. Nothing like good old fashioned experience to make you valuable quickly.

This is basically the same concept as joining an open source project for a developer seeking experience, but more geared toward building businesses.

answered Feb 25 '10 at 16:25
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points


Look for companies that can benefit from all of your skills combined. You've got an education and some experience in engineering. Look for a technical firm that needs help on the sales side. Perhaps they need a sales engineer or a pre-sales consultant.

Rather than jumping directly to sales and marketing, work on migrating from your current resume to the resume you'd ideally like to have.

If you target a hybrid position like this, you'll stand out from all those people that might have more experience in sales but little grounding in technology. Your diverse experiences can be a strength in the right context.

answered Oct 11 '09 at 02:31
D Thrasher
894 points
  • How do I avoid then getting trapped in whatever that industry may be? For example, if I work for a MEMs mfg company in sales, will those skills be easily transferable or will I just have built a network in the MEMs industry that is only useful if I stay in MEMs throughout my career? – Jason Evanish 14 years ago
  • That's a great follow-up question. Think of each job as a pivot point in your career; a way to transition from what you know to what you want to learn. And if you haven't read it yet, read What Color is Your Parachute? It's the best book for thinking about career transitions I've found. – D Thrasher 14 years ago


Your advantage over other people with more experience is your willingness to work harder for less money. In this economy, where everyone is looking to save a buck, that means you either work for someone not able to pay for a more experienced employee or someone that can afford to have employees that are not as productive as long as they are cheap. The first would be a small startup before a major round of financing; the second would be a large business that has a team that does what you plan on doing, so that they can afford to have you be an intern. Due to minimum wage laws, you cannot intern for free, and either way you will require some managerial attention, which is not free for that business.

I know I am being harsh, and describing a situation where you are completely without any experience, but if you can find a job under those conditions, any experience you do have can only be to your benefit.

As for the entrepreneurial masters' business degree you have, it is good when you are looking to start your own business more then when looking to work for others. If you cannot find a job, this might be the perfect time to start a business. It is better to have a small business with a small income then to have no job and no income :)

answered Oct 11 '09 at 02:57
Ron Ga
2,181 points
  • Thanks, Ron. How do you recommend finding such positions? It seems like most jobs that are posted are generally because the company has the funding to pay for a their ideal, fully qualified employee. Also, you can't really just ask for a job a minute after you meet someone at a networking event, and with rent and student loans to pay, I can't work for free (whether in my own startup or for someone else's). – Jason Evanish 14 years ago
  • I recommend that you send an email to the relevant department head of any company you can find that is relevant to you, in which you explain that you find their company and department exiting, and you hope to be given the chance to prove yourself, even on a trial bases, since your believe in what they do and want to take a part in that. All you need is one department head to find your email compelling enough to give you a chance. If you have any friends in a relevant company, ask them to speak to the department head on your behalf... That would increase your odds dramatically. – Ron Ga 14 years ago


Volunteering for non-profits is a great way to get experience and to meet people. It can also help balance your life/priorities.

answered Feb 25 '10 at 05:26
Tim J
8,346 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Marketing Sales Hiring