By Kara Sherrer
Paul Kendall (MMark’17) didn’t take a summer internship in college, serving instead as a camp counselor for three summers. While the job was a fun and fulfilling way to spend his summers, Kendall realized that having “zero” internship experience didn’t set him apart in the full-time candidate pool.
As an economics major at Colgate University, Kendall studied abroad in London his junior summer. While in the U.K., he held an internship at a health technology startup, conducting market research on the competition and determining how to position the startup’s product. The experience piqued his interest in marketing as a way to united his passion for business and creative work.
“In marketing — whether it’s the agency side or the client side — you’re dealing with the product and something tangible,” he said.
After getting back from London, Kendall researched available marketing jobs and decided that a Master of Marketing degree was the best way to set himself up for success in a crowded field. Kendall was convinced that Vanderbilt Business was the right choice for him after learning he’d be taking classes alongside MBA students and that the program’s coursework focused solely on marketing.
Making Contact with Mars
Kendall’s first touchpoint with his future employer came during Brand Week. Mars Petcare sponsored the flagship case project, and students toured a local research facility to learn more about the division’s brands. Kendall was immediately intrigued by the prospect of working at Mars.
He looked initially at Associate Brand Manager positions, which usually go to MBA graduates with years of experience. He later realized that the Business Analyst position would be a better starting point for someone with his experience and future degree.
He applied to a Business Analyst opening in the fall, but the recruiter told him the application-to-hire process usually takes only a month and asked Kendall to check back closer to graduation. Kendall kept in touch with Mars Petcare over the ensuing months, building a good relationship with the recruiter in the process.
“It’s tough to be patient like that, but what I’ve found is there’s a constant cycle of people getting promoted or going to other companies, so at big enough companies, there will always be those openings every couple of months,” he explained.
It’s tough to be patient like that, but…there will always be those openings every couple of months. -Paul Kendall
Landing the Full-Time Job
Kendall’s patience paid off when a Business Analyst position opened in the spring. He immediately applied, and Mars Petcare brought him in for several hours of interviews. A few days later they extended him a full-time offer. Kendall accepted and began preparing to launch his career in marketing.
Now six months into the role, Kendall has already taken on two accounts, using data to optimize shelf space and promotions within grocery stores, as well as identify opportunities to introduce new products or shelf layouts.
While many consider sales and marketing separate disciplines, Kendall sees himself as working at the intersection between the two, directly linking promotional efforts to product performance — and he urges aspiring marketers to seriously consider sales analytics positions.
“There’s a lot of overlap between the two roles, and you work together cross-functionally a lot,” he said. “I think having a good sales background will help you as a marketer, so I’d say don’t be closeminded to sales analyst roles.”
Having a good sales background will help you as a marketer. -Paul Kendall