If you’re interested in social media and content creation, chances are that you’ve heard of Big Fuel, a New York-based social media and branded content company. Using the tagline “from content to commerce,” Big Fuel fulfills the social media demands for large brands, including T-Mobile, Burger King, HBO, and Aflac. They boast their ability to, “combine brand messaging and strategy with entertainment value and cultural relevance (and to) deliver guaranteed and measurable consumer engagement for some of the biggest brands in the world.” 

We caught up with Mike Mikho, business development and account lead, to learn more about agency life, the inner-workings of this growing industry, and what his degree from the University of Michigan means to him.


#UMsocial: How would you describe a day-in-the-life at your office?

Mike: “Agency life, generally speaking, is pretty fast-paced. Within digital, it’s a little quicker (and) with social it is especially fast, including the rate at which the conversation changes. For most of our clients, if something happens in the news or if there is a holiday, they need to be able to react to what people are saying at the drop of a hat. A story could be relevant today, and tomorrow no one cares…we have to move very quickly in order to keep pace with consumers. From a business development perspective, we need to always show how fast we work, even when we aren’t working (directly) with a client.”

#UMsocial: What do hours look like on a typical day?

Mike: “Most agencies run from 9-9:30am to 6-6:30pm, but stuff is always expected from you outside of these office hours. If I’m pitching to a new client, I’ve been at work until midnight. If you’re up against a deadline for a client, then your day ends when the work is done. It can get pretty intensive.”

#UMsocial: What about the size of the Big Fuel team?

Mike: “At any agency, you’re generally going to be staffed pretty lean. An agency can’t have ten people (sitting around) that aren’t being productive. So you’re always going to have people that are very busy. You always have the need to get things done as quickly as possible.”

#UMsocial: So what brought you to the digital marketing world? What interested you in this type of work? 

Mike: “I kind of fell into it. I wanted to do something sales oriented when I left college, and I got a job in business development at a media agency. I had never really worked (in the industry) or really thought about advertising before. After a job there and a job at a competitor, another media agency, my current agency, reached out to me on LinkedIn, and said they were looking for someone to work in business development. Obviously I had to learn the industry, but I just sort of fell into it. I didn’t have a background in digital.”


#UMsocial: As a University of Michigan alum, how do you think your Michigan experience helped prepare you for the workforce?

Mike: “When you graduate from Michigan, you do get a degree that every single employer the world-round respects, and you have a huge alumni network in every major city. From that regard, my Michigan degree was extremely helpful. But when you get into the real world, you just have to learn everything by practice…in the marketing and agency world, you have to learn the agency landscape. That’s not something that you can learn in the classroom, no matter what school you go to.”

#UMsocial: Were you involved with any groups on campus that helped you gain experience for this type of work?

Mike: “I had a job at the Michigan Tele-fund, and being in a position where you had to cold-call alumni and ask for money was the best experience that anyone can get for a sales job. If you can convince someone to give you money over the phone without getting anything in return, you can sell anything. That (experience) was very relevant.”

#UMsocial: What advice do you have for students at UMich who are trying to land a digital or social media marketing internship?

Mike: “I would say a couple of things. Make sure that your own public social channels are professional. Make sure that you have a great LinkedIn and that your Twitter is public, and you are posting things that you wouldn’t mind an employer seeing. Make your Facebook private! It cannot possibly help you. It can prevent you from getting a job. When applying for jobs…you have to find out who the hiring manager is (and) follow up like crazy. We live in a world where that is very easy! You can go on LinkedIn, search the company you applied for, and find their numbers…it really does come down to how badly you want it. If you take a backseat approach to getting your own job, you will be unemployed for awhile.”

#UMsocial: When hiring for this industry, what qualities or characteristics would you look for in candidates? 

Mike: “It depends on what their role is. If it’s an account manager role…you want someone who is organized, obviously it is very important to have someone who is bright and can function on their own. Employers want to make sure that when they hire someone they aren’t spending their time doing that person’s job…and (that they) don’t have to be micro-managed…if you are professional, well-spoken, and confident in your interview, that goes leaps and bounds. If you can find out how to liken your experience to the job, that’s important as well. The reality is that you can always make your experience sound relevant, no matter what you did…but I really think that the biggest thing is being smart, confident, and poised in the interview.”

To learn more about Mike, follow him on Twitter @mikemikho.