How I got my job during COVID: Advice from Samanee Mahbub, Product Marketing Manager at Transfix
Updated: Jun 26, 2021
At RE: Project we’ve talked plenty about tips and tricks for career development during the COVID crisis, but now it’s time to hear from someone who put it all into practice! Accomplishing the seemingly impossible feat of landing a great job in this unstable time, Samanee Mahbub of Transfix spoke with us about her experience.
As a former History major at Brown University, her career in marketing and tech might seem surprising. But Samanee stresses that your major does not prevent you from working in other sectors. As long as you show a deep interest in the field and research the company/role you are applying to, you can land that job you want.
And except for professions where specialized technical skills are essential (e.g., computer science, engineering, etc.), there’s a lot you can simply learn on your own. Samanee spent a lot of time researching marketing skills essential for her role before she even landed the interview.
But networking is also very important here. In her case, she landed her first marketing job by cold emailing the whole team, showing her genuine interest in the company’s recycled-material shoe brand. Even for her current role, she was connected to the company through a former colleague.
The good news is that with COVID crisis, Samanee thinks people will be more generous with their time and willing to help, as working from home has freed up schedules and made people more sensitive to the difficult job market. She recommends starting with LinkedIn, getting leads through alumni connections.
But once you are ready to cold-email (and you should contact at least 3-5 people at the company you want to apply to), you have to bring a specific “ask” and establish your credibility. Think to yourself - what exactly do you want, why should they want to hear from you, and what skills can you bring to the table?
If she could talk to her graduate self, she said she would give similar advice, but also 1) to show perseverance and patience and 2) that it is okay to change jobs or careers. It's always better to try something out and learn from it, rather than turn down an opportunity to learn (including things you didn’t know you needed). On the same note, it's important to try, even when you think the job is too difficult to land. Samanee said that for her current position, the role required 4 years’ experience, where she only had less than a year. If you meet at least 60% of the job requirements, she says, don't stop yourself from applying!
Her social science and humanities background served her well, too. She found that being able to consume information quickly, as well as understand and communicate complex ideas clearly, were essential in her marketing career especially.
That sort of perceptiveness will also help you find a window of opportunity to break into a sector. Samanee said that the first trick to finding opportunities is to research companies. Who is still hiring? Who is doing well or raising funds for further growth? What are their current roles - what do they still need? Could you pitch them a job? Although these questions might seem impossible to answer, Samanee has compiled all the material she used to navigate her job search and, ultimately, find the answers she needed. You can find them all below!
It may be an exhausting process, and Samanee reminds us that it is important to take breaks, but she wants graduates to remember that, although tedious at times, hard work pays off.
Here is a skip time
[0:30] Samanee's experience right after grad school and career experiences [0:50] Question 1 - What is your advice to social science graduates wanting to work in tech? [2:46] Question 2 - Do you think cold e-mailing wll be a challenge during COVID-19? [3:58] Question 3 - Being well into your career, what advice would you give your old graduate self? [4:48] Question 4 - What skills from your social sciences education have come to the forefront during COVID-19? [5:55] Question 5 - How do you find a window of opportunity to break into a sector during a crisis? [8:25] Question 6 - Any additional general advice you wish to give? [8:30] Samanee final advises
If you are interested in learning more about how to network, RE: Project can help! You can register your interest in our upcoming "informational interview and networking workshop here.
You can find additional resources from Samanee here:
bit.ly/samaneejobhunting (her personal job hunting folder free for all!)
https://candor.co/ (hiring freezes/layoffs/hiring)
https://hunter.io/ (for finding emails)
Clear Bit Connect Chrome Extension (for finding emails)
firstname.lastname@example.org (her e-mail)
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One of the biggest reasons behind the high unemployment rate among recent grads is the gap between the structured academic training and the “messiness” of the real-world career market. This is especially true for International Development students, with an average of 0–3 years of experience, that look for impact-driven work. However, the development sector requires significant work experience, specialization, and networking to break into — none of which academic training alone can offer.
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