By Eigen Escario
Marketing is a broad profession with diverse jobs in every sector, which might be initially daunting for students who just have a broad interest in business without extensive experience in this specific field. Kathleen Rall, Vanderbilt Associate Director, Career Management Center Coach for Vanderbilt Business, gives advice to those who are just starting out and seeking guidance in finding their ideal first marketing job.
Gearing Up For Your First Marketing Job
Building the essential skills and developing knowledge needed for entry-level positions are necessary to unlock potential growth in any career path.
“The summer before the Master of Marketing program at Vanderbilt Business starts, students complete basic requirements such as resume review and industry research to equip them the tools to effectively explore the job market,” Rall said. “We also want students to think about the functional area of marketing that they’re interested in.”
Regardless of an individual’s emphasis on the more technical aspects of marketing, employment outcomes at Vanderbilt Business over the past few years indicate that there’s not one set way to success.
“If you look at last year’s employment report, I think it paints an interesting picture of the career outcomes for marketing students because it’s a wide array of career options,” Rall said. “I think what’s exciting about this program is that you can kind of make it your own and take it a lot of different ways because marketing is needed in every industry.”
An essential component to laying the foundation of a successful marketing career for Vanderbilt Business students is leveraging the alumni network and resources that students gain through the program.
“It’s up to the individual student to take ownership over their journey and ask questions, connect with people, and let curiosity lead them on the right path,” Rall said. “Referrals and networking are a really important part of the puzzle for career success—your own network, your Vanderbilt network, the alumni network, and just the people that you interact with, your classmates in the program and the cohort.”
Figuring Out What You Want
Naturally, clarity comes from hearing insight from those who have been in students’ positions before, seeking the same jumping-off point for a successful marketing career.
“For example, maybe you’ve had conversations with people who work in hospitality and then you realize it isn’t the best fit for you. They could refer you to one of their colleagues or someone else that they know who might be a better fit,” Rall said. “This can open a lot of doors. You might realize that you haven’t considered a career path in digital marketing or the healthcare industry after gleaning some career clarity from these interactions.”
On top of knowing what you want out of your career, you also have to consider what you value in an employer and if that industry is compatible with your lifestyle before committing to your first marketing job.
“I think asking questions about these things and being curious throughout the program is a great way to find the best fit for you,” Rall said.
Looking For Ideal Job Qualities
So what makes an ideal first marketing job for an early-career marketer? As Rall mentioned, there are many different avenues in the world of marketing, but there are green flags to look out for when choosing where to apply or which offers to accept during this process.
“I think it would be wise for students to look for opportunities where they have room to grow—I would want students to be in positions where they can learn and make a difference in the world,” Rall said. “A lot of times when students are preparing for an interview or thinking about a target company list, they’re thinking about where they would get the most support and opportunity to have professional development or where they would be able to develop this skill set that they’re looking for.”
Essentially, the people that you surround yourself with in the workplace matter much more than any seemingly ideal position in an exclusive list of companies.
“Students should consider where they would get the best opportunity to be surrounded by intelligent marketing professionals,” Rall said. “I think it’s less about what’s the perfect starting point for your career and more about who you’re surrounded with, what opportunities you have, and the people that you work with. And I think the resulting work ethic and attitudes are only amplified when you get out into the workforce.”