Emerging Marketers Q&A: Amanda Mackinnon and Jingting REN

Jingting (Michelle) REN and Amanda Mackinnon are in Hobart. They built a strong relationship over the course of the mentoring program and continue to stay in touch.

  • What did you learn from your experience in the program?

JR: I learnt so many things from this mentorship program. The biggest takeaway for me is to embrace your uniqueness and have a growth mindset.

I still remember when I asked Amanda ‘What’s the most essential skill for marketers’, she answered ‘writing skills’ without even hesitation. I was worried about how I could compete with a native English speaker. But then, as the days went by, I have learnt that my Chinese background does not inhibit me from achieving my goal. In fact, it’s what makes me unique. As an international graduate trying to get into the market and land my very first job, it’s never easy. But fortune favours the prepared mind. I screwed up in my very first interview, but after several preparations, my interview skills got much better than the first one. Similarly, if you don’t have relevant experience, you prepare well for it and use that preparation to your advantage, eventually, you will make it happen.

AM: When you’re head down in working, it’s easy to forget about the challenges facing new graduates. The mentoring program was a great way for me to understand the issues facing the newest members of our industry and to apply my own experience to support them in a practical way. It also gave me a reason to pause and think about the particular skills and experiences that have shaped my own career.

Reflecting on my career to date, the most important pieces of advice I would offer are ‘embrace opportunity’ and ‘show initiative’. These are the things I always look for when searching for new team members. Someone who is always willing to learn, will jump at the chance to do something new, and who always contributes with new ideas is priceless. Attitude is everything – the technical details can come later.

  • Why do you think mentoring is important for the career of marketers?

JR: Personally, I believe mentoring is of great importance throughout all stages in our career and our life. It’s all about utilising the experience and expertise of others to help navigate your path and reach your goals. As a marketer, you might come across many problems – like not being sure about your marketing superpower, having limited knowledge about the local market, or having no clue where to start. Take myself as an example. My mentor, Amanda Mackinnon gave me lots of clear directions and actionable advice when I came across problems – everything from how to better prepare for different stages of the interview process through to how to get more traffic into a local restaurant. And lots of them, I wasn’t even aware of before. Not to mention we all get frustrated from time to time. Having someone walk you through a new journey and selflessly supporting you to achieve your goals is such a blessing.

AM: Mentoring is a great way to share experiences and build valuable connections across our industry. For mentees, it’s a great way to tap into guidance from an experienced marketer and create a sounding board for yourself. For mentors, it’s a way to support less experienced members of our industry, keep your finger on the pulse, and to really reflect on the value of your own journey.

Marketing is such a broad and varied field, and also one in which people are frequently working in isolation or in small teams. Mentoring draws people together and really facilitates the sharing of ideas.

  • How did you work together to get the most value out of the mentoring relationship?

JR: When it comes to getting the most out of the mentoring relationship, here are some of my key takeaways:

1. The most critical part is to set realistic expectations/goals. Then you can work together to break them down into tasks and make a plan of action. Your goals might change a bit depending on the circumstances so you can set up short and long-term goals. For example, I had the goal of landing a job and then my mentor helped me thoroughly at each part of this goal

2. Use the time you have together efficiently and walk into the meeting prepared.

  • Review notes from the last meeting before you go to the next one
  • Prepare a list of questions you want to ask
  • Take notes 

For instance, when I visited my mentor to prepare for interviews, many key points she mentioned and the way she solves problems still benefit me today and in the future. If you want to make the most of the mentoring sessions, take notes and use them in the future.

3. Follow up and share the results 

If you discuss something at sessions earlier and take steps to apply their advice to address the issue, let your mentor know how it went. I feel this is not only being respectful but also creating natural conversations and relations with your mentor.

AM: For us, the sessions worked best when we focussed directly on Jingting’s goals. We let these drive the sessions and worked through each problem step by step. Jingting did a great job of coming prepared to each session with lots of questions and this made it easy for her to walk away with actionable learnings.

We found that meeting during the day at my workplace was also a good idea. This not only saved me time – I could undertake it during my normal workday – but it let Jingting experience a professional marketing environment. It also meant I could draw up my resources if required, and show her real-life examples of what I am currently working on.

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