A Student's Journey Through the Study of Marketing
Employer, meet future employee
In a technology-driven world where business tactics are evolving more rapidly than our education systems and career structures, it is important that both students and employers are aware of the expectations and realities of hiring a recent college graduate with a marketing degree. As graduates are flowing into job fields seeking employment, marketing managers are given access to a wide variety of personnel to add to their team. Managers are able to effectively hire new graduates by understanding the expanse of knowledge they are able to contribute to an established marketing team; one of the best ways to understand this knowledge is to be aware of what students are being taught in college.
As a college student, I have considered the great importance of employer-to-potential employee relationships since I declared my major. I am currently three years into my four-year Bachelor's degree program with a major in marketing, and will be entering the marketing field permanently next year. Making the decision to dedicate my studies to the marketing field was primarily based on my love for communication and more importantly job availability. While it would be a dream come true living in an isolated cabin writing fiction stories as a career, the income brought in by doing so would not support my lifestyle for long. I was lucky enough to come to terms with this before spending too much time taking general writing studies courses, and decided to take my creative passions to the business world.
Turning my passion into action
As I mentioned above, my decision to go into the marketing field was based on my love for communication as well as the high projected job growth in marketing careers. I have always known that I am good at connecting with people through my writing and speeches. Also, as a long-time social media user, I have been able to establish real connections with total strangers en masse by reaching out through relatable posts. I absolutely enjoy connecting with audiences, whether it be an audience of 1 or 1,000. Creating a bond with people through different communication styles is a fun and challenging task I have set out to perform on a regular basis since I was young - being an extreme extrovert, these connections have always fueled my happiness. It made sense for me to work towards a degree in marketing because I would be able to capitalize on my communication skills and help any business reach out to consumers in a (hopefully) successful way.
When I first began my post-secondary education journey, I was extremely unsure of how my interests would manifest into a career. As I completed my first year of general writing studies courses at a state university, I was able to recognize the strengths I possess that would be potentially applicable to a career. The things I learned I was especially good at, thanks to both my course studies as well as experiences in collegiate extracurricular activities (e.g. listening to the cries of stressed-out friends, and laying in my dorm bed on my laptop avoiding conversation with my weird roommate):
- Communicating via writing, and enjoying doing so
- Establishing interpersonal ties quickly
- Helping others figure out what they want and need
- Spending frivolous hours on the internet interacting with strangers
Recognizing these skills I honed over my years as a student/social butterfly/internet media enthusiast gave me a huge relief. It is very gratifying to know what you are good at before deciding on a major in a four-year institution. It was obvious that the only way I could use these skills in a business way would be through sales or marketing.
Another (much more practical) reason I was drawn to a future in marketing is the job outlook opportunity in the field. Accoring to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth in marketing fields is approximately 9% from 2014-2024, which is higher than the average of all current careers. A greater likelihood of landing a job out of college helped to solidify my career decisions; after all, I need a way to pay off my student loans. I realized a career in marketing will fit both my interests and my desire to be a successful working woman.
Tune into your young hires' knowledge and capabilities
When employers are aware of what their potential hires are learning in school and at home, they will be able to create job positions optimizing the skills of new graduates. Millennials have a special relationship with marketing due to our extensive exposure to social media, internet fads, and business-to-customer relations through the web. The internet has completely changed the way businesses, both small and large, are able to market toward their target segments. Millennials, including myself, are constantly being exposed to marketing-based learning outside of school, including, but not limited to:
- Search engine optimization when using Google or Bing
- Pay-per-click advertising on pages being viewed
- Data mining that shows advertisements on pages relevant to viewer's search history
- Social media networking to establish business-to-customer relations
The deep understanding of these concepts and pop-culture business tactics happen without having to take classes on them; they're part of a normal college student's everyday life. Knowing the concepts listed above gives recent college graduates the ability to know what will resonate with the general public and will make them a special benefit to your team.
Disparity between school education and real life education
Taking marketing classes in college teaches students about the concepts that are hard to grasp outside of school. In my classes I am learning a lot about accounting, statistics, management strategies, and business-to-business communication tactics. When interviewing a fellow marketing student, I asked her if the school curriculum aligned with her expectations of what it would be like to be a marketing student:
Question: We both have been on the path to obtaining a marketing degree for a few years now. Is the course load what you had expected it to be when you first decided on getting a degree in marketing?
Answer: "When I first switched my major to a marketing degree, I was expecting to learn more about the psychology behind marketing, because that's what drew me to it in the first place. Some of it is what I expected, but it is rather lacking in some areas. My university's marketing program focuses more heavily on number crunching, which is not my strong suit. I wish there were more in-depth classes [regarding psychology] than just the Consumer Behavior class I took in a previous semester."
There is definitely a gap between school education and real life education as it pertains to marketing: school focuses on the analytical aspects of marketing such as hard data that makes marketing trends measurable. Real life education has taught both myself and my fellow soon-to-be graduates more about the lifestyle of consumers, and the best way a business can establish a bond with consumers. If marketing programs were to offer more classes surrounding the psychological aspect of marketing, it would benefit both students and future employers greatly. Learning about consumer behavior outside of school is not a huge challenge, however gaining insight to these things in a formal setting would be tremendously beneficial. Students who are driven to learn will research successful marketing tactics on their own, however the lack of formal education on popular marketing methods creates a huge gap in the potential of individuals upon graduation.
By understanding what marketing students are learning in school versus the knowledge they had to gain by their own research, employers can optimize their search for employees by seeking out candidates with specific skills pertaining to the employer's needs. It is important for employers to select candidates who have expanded their knowledge through research in real life instead of relying solely on curriculum learned in college. Marketing is an ever-expansive tool for businesses that continues to evolve as society does. Hiring a marketing employee that is aware of social trends and consumer behavior as well as the number-crunching aspects of the field is necessary for the success of any marketing team.
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About the author
I'm Lauren Erchul, a current college student on my way to receiving my bachelor's degree in marketing next spring. I am very eager to graduate and join the field of marketing full-time. Blogging, social media, and photography are my passions and I hope to use those passions to make myself a beneficial member of a marketing agency upon graduation. You can connect with me here: