Marketing Student Profile
Name: Tanner LaFond
Graduation Year: 2015
Hometown: Edina, MN
How and why did you choose your major?
Oh boy, that was certainly a long process for me. I started out here at the U of M trying to decide between nine different majors. I basically did everything I could to narrow it down. I spoke with friends and family about what they could see me in. I did a lot of "soul searching" to figure out what I value. I took personality inventories as well as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I read a wonderful book titled "Do What You Are" that is based off of the MBTI. I conducted hours upon hours of research online; I even have numerous word documents I made resulting from this research where I organized my findings. I took classes in multiple fields that interested me. I worked at jobs in my areas of interest. Honestly, if you can think of a way someone could go about choosing their major, I probably did it multiple times. Eventually, I found that all of these different things all pointed me towards Marketing.
Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.
Marketing is actually a bit tricky to describe as a major, if only because it's hard to pinpoint what it is exactly. For example, a common misconception is that advertising and marketing are synonymous, which isn't the case at all. Advertising is simply one element of marketing. In the general sense, marketing is everything a company does to acquire customers and subsequently develop and maintain a positive relationship with them. So, marketing can include things such as public relations, market research, determining how to price products, brand management, sales and sales management, etc.
Given the expansive nature of marketing, it's no surprise that you learn a large variety of material that can vary greatly from class to class in a marketing major. Personally, that's one of the reasons I really enjoy marketing; I love variety in my life. You can learn everything from how to make a persuasive advertisement in one class to how to leverage the strength of your brand in another.
My favorite class is a bit unusual for a marketing student, because my favorite course thus far was Marketing Research. A lot of marketing students don't find this course as interesting as the others because it's more statistical and data-driven. I'm a very analytical person though and I love working with facts and figures, so that course was right up my alley.
The main challenge within marketing so far has been juggling all the group projects. Marketing classes involve a lot of group projects that individually are fine, but when they all pile up together, and they will, I guarantee it, it can be quite challenging. Good time management skills and a strong work ethic will get you far!
What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)
Well, the first one that comes to mind is my current job. I work at the University YMCA as a Marketing Consultant. I actually created that position there simply because I wanted to work there and said I would be happy to take on a marketing role. So far, I've done internal marketing research through a survey I designed on Qualtrics, met with senior board members to discuss future research efforts aimed at improving the organization and employee recruitment efforts, and conducted employee workshops on building a LinkedIn profile and using LinkedIn to brand yourself and manage your network. This job has been great, as it's allowed me to really put what I've learned so far to good use, while giving me a very high level of control and flexibility over what I do, being that it's a consultant position after all.
The second experience I think of is that I've been in the American Marketing Association (AMA) club at Carlson for two years now. Meetings there typically consist of a person from a company coming in and talking about their company and internship/job opportunities. Sometimes other events occur as well, a notable example being that we toured an ad agency awhile ago, which was quite fun. Anyways, it's a great organization. Great people. Great speakers. A good opportunity to gain internships and jobs.
The third experience that comes to mind is I was briefly in Ad Club, which is a CLA organization, not a Carlson one. Ad Club was enjoyable, but I realized fairly quickly that advertising was not my main interest within marketing. Still, if you like advertising, it's a great group. Similar to AMA , meetings typically consist of guest speakers coming in to talk about where they work and any internships/jobs available there. You also tour ad agencies quite frequently in this club.
The last experience that comes to mind is that I am participating in the IBUS 4082W "Made In Italy" Brand Management program this year. This is a short-term study abroad program offered through the Carlson Global Institute where you take the Brand Management class here in the B-term and then go abroad to Italy for two weeks from late May to early June. As of the time I'm writing this, I just finished the B-term class (which was great) and haven't gone to Italy yet, but while we're there we will be taking cultural tours of Rome and Florence, attending guest lectures from Italian professors and businessmen, and visiting companies including Lamborghini and Roberto Cavalli. Even without going to Italy yet, I guarantee this is a wonderful choice for study abroad.
In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?
Hah, just one piece of advice. I have far too much to say for just one piece of advice. Anyone reading all of this should know that by now. If you've read everything and made it this far, congrats! That's good; you'll be reading a lot in a marketing major! Here are things that come to mind off the top of my head:
• This is true for any major, but don't just pick marketing on a whim; make sure you really want to do marketing as your major!
• Marketing has really, really, really good professors; it's wonderful. Joseph Redden, Wayne Mueller, and Vladas Griskevicius, to name a few. Look them up and see for yourself!
• Marketing students are sometimes assumed to pick it as a major because they lack analytical skills or don't like working with math and data. Because of this, minoring in Finance or MIS alongside your Marketing major, or double majoring if you can, will give you a significant edge when it comes to finding employment.