CM Guide to the Marketing Major

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The business major is, like, the Beyoncé of college majors. Even better than business? the marketing major. In a world of advertising and social media, knowing how to effectively sell a brand is the key to success. There’s basically no way you’ll be jobless with a marketing major. But let me tell you, the marketing major life ain’t for the weak. Be prepared for rigorous courses ranging from business statistics to brand management. Through all the blood, sweat and tears, it’ll be worth it when you’re making stacks after graduation.

What you’ll be doing

As a marketing major, you’re essentially learning the most effective way to sell and advertise a specific brand. Expect core courses on the principles of marketing, consumer analysis, marketing research and marketing strategies. After you get those out of the way, you’re able to take elective courses that cater to your personal interests or career path. Although the workload is typically less heavy compared to other business tracts (shout out to finance majors), be prepared for a dizzying amount of excel sheets and data analyses. Good news: advertising classes will be your safe haven. These courses involve semester-long group projects doing things like brainstorming awesome sales pitches like “The Bachelor Pillow Cases”  (because who wouldn’t want to have Ben’s beautiful face sleeping beside them every night?). Essentially, marketing is just applied psychology. If you’re creative, people-oriented and love to study human behavior, then put on your best “Mad Men-esque” blazer because marketing is for you.

Upsides

1. “It really gives you the chance to hone in on your people skills and interpersonal communication skills. In marketing, you’re going to be meeting a lot of people, you’re going to be talking to a lot of people, so that ultimately helps you build up your network and refine any communication skills which ultimately is going to make you successful in a marketing career.” -Sam Blum, Communications Manager for &pizza, University of Maryland Class of 2013

2. “It gives you a lot of flexibility especially in comparison to things like accounting and finance. If you’re doing finance you’re probably pretty focused on either investment banking or corporate finance, but with a marketing degree you can really do anything from advertising to analytics to media to sports marketing – it really does give you a nice foot in the door and gives you a lot of flexibility.” –Nick DiNardo, Analytics Consultant for MarketBridge, University of Maryland 2012

3. “Every company that buys or sells goods and/or services needs to understand marketing and everyone who manages a person or team needs to understand people and how they tick, so it is a really relevant major that will be useful throughout your career, regardless of what industry you end up in.” –Caitlin Souther, Brand Manager at Unilever for Dove Men+Care, The Wharton School of Business Class of 2015

Downsides

 1. “It is a fairly competitive field. When you’re trying to find a job or an internship, positions are often filled as needed. It can definitely be a little frustrating to see an accounting or finance major have their job locked in before senior year even starts and you may be a marketing major and May starts to roll around and you may not have something yet.” –Sam Blum, Communications Manager at &pizza, University of Maryland Class of 2013

2. “A lot of the marketing major is really theoretical and, ‘This is what you might do in a situation like this,’ as opposed to really hard skills. I think one thing that is a perception that marketing majors don’t have as hard of skills or when they graduate they can’t immediately walk away with something.” –Nick DiNardo, Analytics Consultnat for MarketBridge, University of Maryland 2012

3. “In some cases, people who are less familiar with the major do not realize how quantitative it is and how much analysis can inform marketers. There is still a stereotype that it is all about advertising, but there is a lot more to the major.” –Caitlin Souther, Brand Manager at Unilever for Dove Men+Care, The Wharton School of Business Class of 2015

Career Opportunities

 Companies are in need of fresh ideas and millennials who have mastered social media and understand what draws people in to purchase a specific brand. Whether you want to work in digital or brand marketing, the skill sets you’ll learn can be applied to a variety of jobs.

 1. Marketing Research/Analytics

This one’s for those of you who actually enjoyed Statistics in college. If you love crunching numbers and recording data while also deciphering what draws customers in, then marketing research or analytics is the path you’ll want to follow. You’ll use the data and statistics you find to help advertising companies figure out what’s working and what’s not. “Someday, you could be reporting to folks at the C-level of the organization, saying here’s where we need to go,” said Dr. Hank Boyd, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the University of Maryland. So, basically, you’re the CEO. No big deal.

2. Sales

 Sometimes companies will start you out in sales before putting you in marketing so that you can get to know the product you’re going to sell and the customers you’ll be selling to. “You will get to meet the clients, find out what their needs are, try to figure out what issues matter to them and of course then you’ll understand [the] product better. Once you understand the customer, and what it’s like being out in territory, then you come inside, you become a marketer,” said Dr. Boyd. This is also a good fit if you love interacting with people and getting to know the customers one-on-one.

3. Brand Managing

 As a brand manager, your job includes using your marketing skills and understanding of customers to present a particular brand in the most sellable way. You decide whom your target audience is, the best way to sell your brand to them and how to successfully persuade retailers to sell your product.

4. Communications Managing

This is for all you bubbly extroverts out there. As a communications manager, you really get to utilize the interpersonal skills that you gained as a marketing major to ultimately promote your product. Some responsibilities will include “overseeing customer service, handling social media, copy writing or messaging needs, [and] philanthropic charity work,” said Blum.

5. Consulting

 Consultants are almost like business therapists. Struggling businesses will bring you in to decipher the root of their problem. After identifying the issues and educating yourself on the company, you then get to tell the company what they need to do in order to succeed. If you like solving problems, taking control and telling people what to do – then consulting is most definitely for you.

Sophomore at the University of Maryland double majoring in English and communications. Favorite things include Jesus and avocados.

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