There are several different ways a career can go after graduating with a business degree. Here’s some advice on pursuing a career in marketing after completing a business degree.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the greatest number of degrees in 2008-2009 were in the field of business. Many students are likely pursuing a business degree for the variety of post-graduate opportunities it offers them; however they may wonder what to do with their degree since there are so many options available. We talked to Dr. Lorraine Henderson, assistant professor and director of management at Nazareth College of Rochester, N.Y. (www.naz.edu) and asked what advice she has for students with a business degree who may want to pursue a career in marketing.
Before considering a career in marketing, students should be aware of the skill set necessary for the job. Dr. Henderson insists that, generally, marketing careers start out at an entry-level point in sales. “That is a great place to begin a marketing career,” she says, “you learn first-hand about consumer problems and the company’s solution to the problems.”
Different marketing positions require different responsibilities depending on what field a student may actually go into. As a whole, those who pursue a career in marketing tend to spend a lot of time analyzing the consumer marketplace, understanding the environmental factors impacting that marketplace, collecting data and evaluating consumer attitudes. Understanding consumer relationships are especially important for a marketer to understand as they are, according to Dr. Henderson, the driving force of “sales, brand loyalty, word-of-mouth and social media promotion, as well as public relations (should a problem with a product or service arise).”
The ability to communicate effectively on a global basis is also a skill required of a marketer, which is more important than ever in the global community that we are living in today. “It is important to learn as much as you can about the world we live in -— past and present,” says Dr. Henderson. Further, the ability to think globally and demonstrate cultural competency is as important as having good communication and social skills, since many marketing jobs require the ability to communicate effectively to a number of places through a number of media.
Dr. Henderson offers advice for students who have earned their business degree and are in the process of looking for a job in marketing. “The basic courses in marketing – principles, consumer behavior, marketing communications, market research and
technology — are a must,” she says. Students who have completed internships are also at an advantage and Dr. Henderson suggests that it should be required of every marketing student. “It is as important to gain experience working with good marketing professionals and to do as much networking as possible before landing the job as it is to apply common sense, good work habits and ethical behaviors once in the field,” she says. In that way, students with business degrees often benefit more from who they know than just on experience and coursework alone. Finally, Dr. Henderson suggests building up a resumé of club, volunteer, not-for-profit and part-time work in order to gain experience in e-commerce, web design, public relations and customer relationship management. “The more varied the experience,” she says, “the better for ‘marketing’ oneself in a competitive economy.”
“Marketers need to be good business people in addition to marketing experts,” says Dr. Henderson. “It is also very important to learn as much as you can about human behavior.” In that way, she recommends that students take courses in accounting, economics, finance and management as well as psychology and sociology. Dr. Henderson also stresses that marketing is “as much an attitude as it is a skill-set.” She insists that students should learn the skills of creating genuine customer value with a product and that “marketing is not about developing clever tricks to get people to buy things they do not need.”
“If I had not had the ability to sell an idea, understand a market need, listen to a customer’s needs or research a market niche to anticipate growth and price appropriately, I could not have moved across industries and remained viable as the pace of change reshaped our economy,” says Dr. Henderson. Her successes over the past 30 years in various marketing positions has largely come from her ability to adapt and listen to the marketplace from both the consumer and business perspective. Students with business degrees should keep her advice in mind in order to be successful and land a job that they will be good at as well as enjoy.