Dear Bev: How do I get a digital job without experience?

There are two companies offering high-quality digital training. In a tepid job market where digital opportunities are as abundant as traditional opportunities scarce, they are worth considering. Neither group guarantees a job, but both supply important tools for any candidate.



The Laredo Group has been offering training courses on digital since 1996. Recently, another group, The Internet Advertising Institute, gives digital job seekers an extra edge. Both provide a comprehensive view of the digital landscape and the language that's unique to that sector. They are staffed by trainers with hands-on industry experience. IAI is focused on advertising sales and is designed more for entry level and junior candidates; The Laredo Group courses appeal to people working in ad sales as well as in ad agency and client-side marketing jobs. 

Open Admission or By Invitation

The newly launched IAI has a limited class size, no more than 15 students per 6-week session.  Classes are from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. four days per week. All applicants must apply first and go through an interview process to be accepted.  IAI has relationships with a large pool of employers and works with applicants to get them successfully placed.  When I checked with lead trainer and CEO Steve Bookbinder in early January, nearly all of the first graduating class had been placed in jobs.

Bookbinder, who also runs an SEM agency, knows about the importance of digital: "No matter what your job is, it either has or will soon have a digital aspect."

Leslie Laredo, president of the Laredo Group, offers one-day courses geared primarily to ad sales or to individuals that buy or plan media. In addition, she does more customized digital training for companies. "I've trained up to 700 employees at a single company," she noted. Her courses are taught throughout the year in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.

The ages of her students range from entry level to senior executives. Classes start at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 4:30 p.m. Students start with Level I classes. They can opt to continue with Level II and finish with Level III. According to Laredo, most attendees opt for additional levels.


Both Laredo and IAI stress the importance of understanding the digital language.  "For decades, it was all about GRP. Online changes daily. We're always on top of the digital ecosystem and evolving our course content," explained Laredo.

She has developed and constantly updates a digital glossary with over 500 terms that she gives each student. The courses also have a 250-page manual and a resource list of 125 digital companies. Some of the information is available for free at

In talking about IAI's course, Bookbinder said, "It's impossible to fake that you know what's going on in digital. You have to learn the language and the terms. We use a variety of teaching techniques, ranging from flash cards to jeopardy-like games to role-playing. This is not a college course. It's 100% practical and will give you what you need to know how to succeed in an interview and at a job."


IAI charges students $10,000 for their course. There's an initial $2,500 payment. A payment plan over two years is available for students. You can apply for their course at their Web site. Currently, all courses are in New York. Future plans are to extend to other markets as well as to offer evening sessions.

The Laredo Group has a variety of plans, and it's best to check their site for the most current information. If you opt for an early bird sign up, the cost for two, one-day courses might $1,300. Public courses generally have 20-40 students, with 40 as the maximum size.

Why take a class?

Laredo sums it up nicely. "Keeping up-to-date is critical. You need to know what's going on. We stress the importance of understanding performance, how the numbers work and accountability. You should know how it all works together online, off line or cross platform. You can't keep your head in the sand anymore."

3 comments about "Dear Bev: How do I get a digital job without experience? ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Larry Miller from Men's Journal, January 20, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.

    I highly recommend the Laredo Group course. Very thorough and in-depth presentation plus they leave you with a huge deck that gives you a ton of detailed info.

  2. Dana Todd from SRVR LLC, January 20, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.

    You can also go to school in your jammies with a distance learning course from SEMPO. Their "Insiders Guide to Search Marketing" is intended to ramp up people quickly to have a working knowledge of SEO, Search Advertising (PPC), and how all this stuff fits together in internet marketing. Course is $399, less discounts if you're a SEMPO member, student or active military:

    We've sold over 1000 courses, and have gotten rave reviews on this course from both beginners and people looking to certify their skills. As part of the certificate course, you get a digital badge that you can plug into your LinkedIn Profile or resume, so that employers can verify your completion.

    You can also take advantage of about 20 free recorded webinars that SEMPO offers on its nonprofit site, - click on Learning Center for articles, glossary, links, and webinars.

    Dana Todd
    Co-Chair, Education Committee

  3. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., January 20, 2010 at 5:31 p.m.

    Dear Bev: How do I get a digital job without experience? Simple, just call yourself a "Social Media Video Search Engine Optimizationing Behavioral Targetist" and nobody will DARE NOT hire you AND nobody will be able to tell if you're actually doing anything or not.

Next story loading loading..