My name is Sara Zahir, and I am a student in the University of Virginia’s M.S. in Commerce Program (Marketing & Management track). I attended UVA as an undergrad and majored in Art History. I love art and spent two summers in New York City, working at Christie’s auction house, where I was first exposed to marketing and brand management. Now as a student at the McIntire School of Commerce, I have more opportunities to explore this field by connecting with alumni and attending events like the annual Careers in Marketing Forum presented by McIntire’s Commerce Career Services.
This year’s forum featured Allie Egan (McIntire ’08), President and CEO of Cynthia Rowley, as the keynote speaker. There were also five sessions about different career areas within marketing:
• Analytics and market research
• Sales and integrated marketing
• Brand management and consulting
• Sports and entertainment marketing
Studying art history always made me think about the story behind a piece of art, its significance, and the way it made me feel. I see marketing in a similar way—marketers use data analytics, the user experience, and customer desires to tell their unique story.
Allie Egan’s story of starting off her career in finance and transitioning to luxury cosmetics and then fashion was really inspiring. She told us that “your career is yours, and you can position yourself however you desire, but you should always follow your passion.”
My favorite forum breakout session focused on the advertising, PR, and digital marketing spaces. The interesting and engaging McIntire alumni panelists—Mickey Cloud (McIntire ’07), Meera Deepak (McIntire ’08), and Sarah Schneider (A&S ’10, M.S. in Commerce ’11)—offered a range of valuable advice, from what skills are needed in the workforce to how we can stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Cloud emphasized that being able to collaborate is an essential skill for working in the marketing field, actually any field. Deepak stressed the importance of anticipating the needs of the organization and the people around you, and Schneider talked about the growing need for quantitative and analytical skills. She discussed pivot tables and Google Analytics, but more importantly, being able to understand the data and how to utilize it strategically.
This was a really unique opportunity for M.S. in Commerce students to engage with professionals who were recently in our shoes. I am so excited for more McIntire events like the Careers in Marketing Forum to continue exploring career paths, connect with alumni, and learn what I can do to make myself a better student and marketer.