While colleges and universities offer career preparation classes, their focus is commonly on resume prep and presentation skills. These are important lessons, but they don’t prepare students to do work-related tasks. Here is some advice to schools and professors on how to prep your students for a career in digital marketing.

Instill the Habit of Constant Learning

Professors, encourage students to sign up for newsletters, earn certifications and review articles about current events. Unless digital marketers want to get left in the dust of the next Google algorithm change, it is imperative they stay up-to-date with what is happening in the industry. Search engines are ever-changing and to be a success in digital marketing, you must stay current while being adaptable and keeping an open mind.

Encourage Industry Certifications

Certifications can be more valuable than textbooks — and significantly cheaper. Consider this: What if Google rolled out a massive algorithm change one month into your semester-long Internet Marketing course? You and your students will have already spent the money on a textbook that is now relatively useless.

Because of the pace at which technology changes, certifications are extremely valuable as a teaching tool. They provide the most up-to-date information as well as giving your students something useful to put on their resume. This also helps show off the relevance of what you’re teaching which can be a motivating factor for many students.

Other benefits to digital marketing certifications:

  1. Certifications help prove value to a prospective employer.
  2. You will quickly become one of the most sought-after professors if you aren’t making your students buy $150+ textbooks, which will be irrelevant six months down the line.


Certification recommendations include:

Stress the Importance of Analytics

Lock into the young and impressionable brains of your digital marketing students that analytics are a marketer’s best friend. Analytics allow you to see how users are actually interacting with your brand and make improving your campaigns significantly easier. What ’s the point of running a campaign if you can’t make it better the next time around, or while it’s still running? This is a fundamental concept for successful marketing.


Get your students onto the Google Analytics platform, teach them about key performance indicators (KPIs) and introduce them to tracking tags or heatmaps. A Google Analytics certification is a great resume addition that will lead to employers taking students from your school much more seriously.

Include Website Design

Professors, remember that hands-on learning gives experience that translates to job skills. One of my favorite classes in school was a course where the semester-long project was creating a website. Some of the requirements were to include a blog, a video and to actually purchase a domain for a certain amount of time. Instituting this type of project gives your students a hands-on experience that they can use as a work-example during job interviews.

You can take this to the next level by employing a website builder like WordPress or Weebly and teaching your students how to connect it to Google Analytics, create ads in Facebook Ads, and optimize pages for SEO. In a job interview fresh out of school, any student who can demonstrate that they already know how to use critical digital marketing platforms will stand out from the rest.

Stop Ignoring Technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

At most schools, search engine optimization is advertised as getting people to see your brand through strategic keyword planning and link-building. It is commonly taught within the marketing curriculum, but it’s rarely mentioned how technical an SEO career can get. Your students should understand HTML, CSS, JavaScript as well as how sites are indexed and tagged.

Because SEO is typically seen by colleges and universities as a marketing function, it is no surprise that students studying computer science or computer information systems seldom hear about SEO careers. If there is more collaboration between the two fields of study, a brand new career path opens up for students of both majors.

Add HTML CSS, and JavaScript

The idea of programming intimidates a lot of people, but a basic understanding of HTML is necessary for a student’s success as a digital marketer. Professors, you can stress the reality that one doesn’t have to be a coding genius to figure out basic HTML.

Teach your students that HTML is simply a language that allows you to put content onto a webpage, CSS is used for styling, and JavaScript is what helps craft user interactions (e.g., sliding carousels or form validation). CSS and JavaScript are more complex, but lessons about how to find a meta tag, simple steps for editing small sections of HTML code and some other basic concepts are extremely useful. Students become much more competitive for jobs out of school with that knowledge, and they will be ready if and when they need to learn more about the three languages.

Don’t Disregard Graphic Design

More marketing professors should have a lesson on graphic design in their curriculum. This could range anywhere from creating infographics to Photoshop fundamentals. Marketers need to present their ideas in ways that grab people’s attention. Not everything can be presented in PowerPoint. Infographics are an effective way to quickly give people interesting and easily consumable content. There are a variety of free tools available to create infographics and assist in your lessons. Designing content or being creative may not be for every student, but having a basic understanding of the design principles behind powerful content is critical for every marketer.

Enhance Your Student’s Prospects

With these additions to your curriculum, you will provide upcoming graduates with the best possible chance for success in digital marketing after school. It is significantly easier for students to land a job straight out of school and succeed in their career when you give them tools and training in the classroom that prepare them for the “real world” of digital marketing.