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Be ready to learn and catch a CEO’s attention

Interview with Vukan Simić, CEO of FishingBooker

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to Vukan Simic, the CEO of FishingBooker, the world’s largest online travel company that enables you to find and book fishing trips. They offer trips in over 100 countries, and nearly 2000 cities to hundreds of thousands of anglers each year. What’s most impressive is that this company was started by a new graduate student at the time. Vukan after graduating as a software engineer started FishingBooker back in 2013, which has now grown into a 70 person company, and one of the most sought after workplaces in Belgrade, Serbia.

FishingBooker is made up of around 20% of new graduate students, so Vukan took the time to talk to me about what he looks for when hiring students, and how students can develop their careers in digital.

Vukan Simić, CEO of FishingBooker

What advantage do humanities graduate students have when looking to get hired in digital roles such as content marketing, or design?

In general, humanities students tend to have better communication skills, and a wider understanding of how society works. They can be a better natural fit for roles like marketing, people operations and management.

At the moment there is no degree in content marketing, so a student that has a background, and knowledge of literature, languages, or a degree that is focused on writing and research has a lot of the skills necessary to succeed as a content marketer. They are the only people, rather the closest you can get to hiring someone specialised in some of those areas of marketing.

Do you believe that a candidate needs a degree to get started in digital marketing?

No. You can learn content marketing practically. You don’t need a degree. For me the degree gives humanities students a deeper, wider overall knowledge. It also teaches you discipline, especially if you have graduated from a reputable university. The actual skills you learn at university won’t be of much direct help for marketing in digital.

So, what advantage do graduates have if any at all?

People with a university degree have over time developed a good work and study ethic, they are used to producing quality work, and that’s something every employer looks for. That’s not to say that those without a degree don’t produce high quality work, but a graduate that comes from a strong university with a good degree will probably pass through the interview process faster. A degree is in a way a vetting process for employers.

Vukan started fishing when he was only 2 years old.

What’s most valued in any application?

Practical experience goes the longest way when applying for the first time. This experience doesn’t have to be anything huge, it’s about showing interest and initiative. Launching your blog is a great example, volunteering at a non-profit, even creating your own product.

The best thing you can do as a student is to start dabbling in digital disciplines. That’s when you have time to dedicate a bit to learning new online skills. You can also discover what is out there in terms of design, marketing, product.

Start getting involved in digital disciplines as a student, even for an hour a week. After four years when you come to an interview, you can say you have four years’ experience.

Where is the best place to start learning about digital?

We are lucky that there is a ton of high quality courses and materials online. The biggest problem is where to start. The best place is with one area that you might want to specialise in. If you like graphic or web design start with photoshop, if you like writing then starting your own blog is a good first step.

You can also shift focus overtime. That’s the beauty of it. Actually, for new graduates I like when I see someone who is a good allrounder, who understands more than one digital discipline. They don’t have to overachieve in one, they can specialise later on. In fact, that’s very helpful even later in their career, because the more areas of the business you understand the better you can be in your role.

FishingBooker crew fishing in Dubai.

What is the biggest mistake people make when interviewing?

If you show up at the grocery store to interview for a job, and you get asked how the store makes money and you can’t answer, I don’t think you would be a good fit to work there. That’s the most common mistake.

People don’t do the research necessary, and show up to interviews not knowing how that company makes money. This is basic interview prep, and when someone shows up unprepared we can’t hire them.

What catches your eye on someone’s CV?

It’s very hard to fake on your CV the thing that most employers look for, and that’s a proven track record of long-term projects. You can embellish your CV with courses, but it’s not the same thing. For graduates I am looking for a student that has managed to commercialise a product. That means understanding how to market it, and how to reach an audience.

Launching a product tells you a lot about the student’s ambitions, motivations and their ability to put practical skills to use. It’s not about how much money they made doing it.

What’s the best way to progress in a digital career?

Once you have a job, the easiest way to progress in your career is by making everyone’s lives around you easier. Take the boring jobs no one wants, that will earn you the most respect.

I look for proactivity in learning, and in doing and changing the reality around you. It’s about taking the long-term approach with life when it comes to knowledge, and achievements.

What’s the future looking like for humanities students?

The world is going to become more techcentric, and people who want to be a part of that and have a career in digital need to become more technologically literate. By that I don’t mean that everybody needs to be an engineer, but that they need to have a basic understanding of technology around them.

If you want to learn more about FishingBooker, or you fancy applying for a job, you can do that here.

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I am the creator of Digital for Students. I wanted to create a space to help Humanities Students learn more about digital careers. It's all the information I wish I had when I was throwing my graduation cap.

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