Interview with Andrew Zarick from JAR Group.

Andrew Zarick is a 2007 graduate of Long Island University and is currently the Digital Strategist at JAR Group in Brooklyn, NY. GradtoGreat.com recently learned about the Jar Group and is delighted that Andrew granted us this interview so our readers can find out more about starting a career in online marketing and interactive media.

Jar Group

G2G: Can you tell us about you. What you do and how you started your career?

AZ: My official, unofficial job title is Digital Strategist. I started with the JAR Group two years ago and was one of the earliest employees. When working for a small company, you find yourself doing a bit of everything. I still to this day do a bit of everything even though we have a much larger team now. However, my primary day to day role involves product development and operations on web properties that we own and operate, most notably of which is DiscountSportsTickets.com. I also consult clients on digital marketing strategy that can be used to further drive traffic, conversions and sales to their websites using tactics from search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to affiliate programs and social media.

I know that college students often struggle to narrow down the field that they want to work in upon graduation. One exercise that really helped me narrow my focus in my job search was doing a brain mapping exercise. I forced myself to sit down with no distractions and map out all of my hobbies, whether work related or not, my interests, my skills, and things that I am extremely passionate about. I grouped these things into different lists and at the end tried to find a common theme between the lists. At the end of the exercise I had determined that I often strive in smaller environments, I enjoy marketing, the internet and innovation. From this, I began searching for small start-ups with available positions in digital marketing. I subscribed to a mailing list called NextNY, for New York entrepreneurs. NextNY happens to maintain a wiki of all New York startups by borough. I began going through the Brooklyn list and made notes on companies of interest. The JAR Group was one of the companies that I decided to submit my cover letter to. By complete luck, the same day that I submitted my cover letter, the JAR Group had posted two job openings on other websites that I was not aware of. So, there was a bit of luck involved!

G2G: Can you tell us more about JAR Group?

AZ: The JAR Group is an interactive marketing agency that uses search engine marketing behavior to inform the services that we provide to our clients. In other words, we conduct market research on how individuals use search engines to find services and products online and help our clients optimize their websites and assist them in launching marketing initiatives to increase online revenue, leads, and traffic. Our services include market research, search engine optimization, digital advertising, affiliate program management, analytics reporting and social media marketing. We help people make money online!

G2G: What types of clients do you like to work with?

AZ: Often times when working with very large clients we are only able to provide one or two services for them because they have many different preferred vendors already. We enjoy working with clients who allow us to integrate all of our services in a holistic marketing effort. We are able to provide better results and really help them increase their bottom line. One business development approach that is really resonating in the current economic environment is our performance based services. We do the upfront marketing program setup at no cost to the client, and only charge based on our results; usually a percentage of the sales that we drive with our efforts. If we don't succeed, clients don't pay.

G2G: What do you look for in terms of qualifications of recent graduates?

AZ: Since we are hiring, I have been reading many cover letters lately. The cover letters that really catch my eye are from applicants that have truly taken the time to take a hard look at what the JAR Group does as a company, and then explains how the applicant thinks their skills will benefit us. If I can't connect with the cover letter on a personal level and see where the applicant will fit in with our team and help us provide a higher level of service to our clients, I immediately move on and read the next. Beyond the cover letter, if its a recent college grad, they likely don't have a ton of professional experience, so I look at their skills and their value proposition to us.

Next, and most importantly for a company that does digital marketing with a heavy focus on search, I Google the applicant. I want to see them on LinkedIn, I want to see them commenting on industry news, I want to see them active in the digital space. This is a major part of applicant review process, for any company, much less an online marketing company!

G2G: What's your advice to grads who are interested in this career field?

AZ: Six months prior to graduation I started conducting "how to make money online" related searches mainly because I needed some extra cash to help me make it through the last few months of school. At first I was bombarded with get rich quick ebooks, however many of these ebooks are promoted through affiliate marketing programs. The promotion of get rich quick ebook products utilizes the same marketing tactics that Fortune 500 companies use to drive traffic to their websites - SEO, digital advertising, and social media marketing. I continued to dig deeper and I eventually found many blogs and forums for learning how to implement online marketing campaigns to sell product of my own. For students interested in this field, I would advise them to read these same resources so that even though they might not have professional experience in the field, they can speak to targeted questions about the inner workings of online marketing campaigns. A few resources that really helped me are SEOmoz.org which is one of the best SEO knowledge bases, DigitalPoint forum and the WickedFire forum. However, there is no better way to learn than to setup small marketing campaigns of your own once you have a decent understanding of online marketing and the tools that are available at your disposal.

G2G: Does Jar Group offer any internship opportunities?

AZ: We are currently looking for interns. We have all been interns in our past lives so we realize the importance of keeping the internship interesting and letting our interns get hands on experience to many different aspects of our business.

G2G: Anything else you'd like to share?

AZ: I really enjoy helping out motivated students. If there are any questions I can answer about the JAR Group, the field I work in, or general advice about the career search feel free to send me an email at Andrew.Zarick@thejargroup.com

G2G: Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to tell our grads more about JAR Group.