For students hoping to work in marketing, McIntire’s Careers in Marketing Forum provided a wealth of essential information about the diverse paths to potential employment in the field. Ranging from the inspirational to the improbable, guest speakers at Commerce Career Services’ 2017 edition of the two-day event offered student attendees invaluable practical advice and firsthand accounts of their own professional journeys.
On the evening of Oct. 19, Professor and Marketing Area Coordinator Rick Netemeyer kicked off the proceedings by welcoming the “The Story of My Career” panel to Rouss & Robertson Halls. Focusing on the employment histories of alums Christy Chattleton (McIntire ’00) of ESPN, Meera Deepak (McIntire ’08) of Tribal Worldwide, Ryan Kuehl (McIntire ’94) of Under Armour, and Dan Vinh (McIntire ’87) of Marriott International, the session focused on avenues to different functional areas within marketing. The hour-long panel was capped by a networking reception that afforded students the opportunity to meet with speakers featured throughout the next day’s schedule.
Take Chances, Make Moves
The following morning’s breakout sessions, “Marketing Demystified,” presented students with five brief expert discussions about advertising, PR, and digital; analytics and market research; sales and integrated marketing; brand management and brand consulting; and marketing and growth industry start-ups. Each panel of experts spoke from a breadth of experience across industries, answered student questions, and gave actionable suggestions for moving forward with their own employment goals.
“Marketing & Growth Industry Start-Ups” panelist Stephen Levin (A&S ’11, M.S. in Commerce ’11), encouraged immediate, proactive steps. “Take the time that you have now. Build an app, or start a blog, or sell textbooks—it doesn’t matter. Just go build and sell something. The skills you learn doing that have almost no risk and can teach you so much more than you can learn any other way,” said Levin, who works in marketing analytics at automation company Zapier. “I’m a big advocate for doing it while you’re in school, or on the side while you have a full-time job, because that way you have a safety net.”
Joshua Anton (McIntire ’14), CEO of the widely used location development kit X-Mode and Co-Founder of influencer-based marketing agency Trend Pie, added to Levin’s advice. “Number one: If you’re building a real thing, follow ‘the 100 rule’—talk to 100 people and figure out if your idea is good—people you don’t know, because they’ll give you an honest idea. Number two: Find mentorship. Number three: Rely on your team and your advisers. I’m 26 years old; I don’t know what I’m doing 99 percent of the time. I’ve absorbed knowledge, and I like being the dumbest person in the room,” Anton said. “Surround yourself with people who are 10 times smarter than you, and get a little bit of their time. That way you’ll lower your risk and raise your chances of succeeding.”
Know Your Worth
Recognizing that most students starting out are still lacking deep knowledge as they build their resumes with experience, Brooke Bandy Man (McIntire ’09), Brand Advertising Manager at Capital One, explained to the “Advertising/PR/Digital” session audience that they need to use their young age and fresh perspectives as selling points to potential employers.
“Advertising is ultimately about culture, and you need to reflect that. You’re uniquely positioned as a young person living in this world of change to be a voice constantly bringing that to the table,” Man said. “Being in advertising for nearly 10 years, I can tell you that there are going to be apps I don’t know about that you’re using, and I’m not watching some show you’re watching, and I’m not reading the book you’re reading. So your ability to tell me about that and help me understand it—and what it might mean for a huge portion of the population—could be a competitive advantage for you and your client.”
A Winning Combination of Factors
McIntire students also benefit from other competitive advantages that come with learning from top-notch faculty, innovative coursework, and global internships made possible through the Commerce School. As such, keynote speaker Lee Susen began by acknowledging that his audience had an edge in pursuing marketing careers that he never had. But Susen also noted that while being prepared is paramount, the power of the right mentorships, timing, and measured decision making can’t be overlooked in helping a candidate secure the right job.
Susen, Senior Marketing Director of New Business Development at E&J Gallo Winery, explained that his own roundabout journey serendipitously led him to his current position.
Having graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, as a biology major, Susen abandoned his original plan of attending med school and relocated to California to try to find work in entertainment. After landing a dead-end position as a quality assurance tester playing videogames for LucasArts (“They feed you pizza if you stay after 7 o’clock, but they only pay you $8 an hour”), he eventually took his boss’ invitation to shadow her in international marketing when she offered to teach him what he would need to know.
Building on his on-the-job knowledge by getting an M.B.A. at the University of Michigan and interning with Apple (“a company that was obviously going nowhere,” he joked), Susen was lured by the Gallo company while company representatives recruited at his school, seeking “entrepreneurial managers.” He has been employed in various positions within the winery for more than 12 years.
Turning to the product life cycle story of Dark Horse wine to recount the many stages of brainstorming and profound scrutiny required for pushing the longshot brand to overcome daunting odds, Susen’s talk illustrated that successfully breaking into marketing—and thriving in it—comes with fortitude, a willingness to learn, and knowing how to capitalize on being in the right place at the right time.
Encouragement and Caution
And as the Marketing Forum intends to guide job-seeking students through their own nascent careers, the day’s sessions closed with some key takeaways for locating, pursuing, and securing employment positions.
Owen Rankin (McIntire ’82) and Nicole Ferry (A&S ’94) discussed best practices for resume, cover letter, and thank-you note writing; tips for networking; and advice for building and communicating during interviews to make the best impression. Rankin, President of Over the Horizon Strategies, and Ferry, Executive Director of Strategy at Sullivan, imparted crucial guidance about approaching prospective employers when seeking that all-important first job, and stressed patience with the process.
“As a marketing student, the job search is not linear. You need to embrace that,” Rankin said. “Just be persistent, enthusiastic, and resilient—because there are going to be a lot of twists and turns along the way. You’ll need to take a deep breath sometimes and say, ‘I know where I’m going, I know what I want to do, and I’m going to push this on to the next step to find another company that is going to value what I do.’ And then you’ll find your way.”
McIntire’s Commerce Career Services thanks the generous funding made possible by Corporate Partner Altria and all of the panelists and speakers for their participation: Joshua Anton (McIntire ’14), CEO, X-Mode, Co-Founder, Trend Pie; Brooke Bandy Man (McIntire ’09), Brand Advertising Manager, Capital One; Brad Barnes (A&S ’00, M.Ed. ’01), Senior Manager of Talent Development, Business Alignment, Ferguson Enterprises; Christy Chattleton (McIntire ’00), Senior Director, Data Solutions & Sales Enablement, ESPN; Mickey Cloud (McIntire ’07), Senior Vice President, VaynerMedia; Siobhan Cooper (McIntire ’07), Senior Engagement Manager, Prophet; Meera Deepak (McIntire ’08), Account Director, Tribal Worldwide; Nicole Ferry (A&S ’94), Partner and Executive Director, Strategy, Sullivan; Michael Golden (M.S. in Commerce ’11), Brand Manager, Marlboro at Altria; Ryan Kuehl (McIntire ’94), Senior Vice President, Global Sports Marketing, Under Armour; Stephen Levin (M.S. in Commerce ’11), Marketing Analytics, Zapier; Jay Lewis (M.S. in Commerce ’14), Manager, Marketing Analytics, Allianz Worldwide Partners; Dean Overdyk (A&S ’13), Unit Manager, Altria Group Distribution Company; Gautam Puranik, Vice President, Marketing & Analysis, CarMax; Owen Rankin (McIntire ’82), President, Over the Horizon Strategies; Courtney Stokke (McIntire ’12), Brand Marketing Analytics Manager, Marriott International; Lee Susen, Senior Director of Marketing, E&J Gallo Winery; Dan Vinh (McIntire ’87), Vice President, Global Brand Management and Marketing, Le Méridien and Renaissance Hotels, Marriot International; Christine Wilson (A&S ’99), Founder and CEO, MtoM Consulting, and Founder & CMO, and/life Inc.