I’m often asked by young people what they should study to get that elusive first job in marketing or advertising. I’ve also noticed that many corporations feel that Marketing degrees are prerequisites for a job in the marketing department.
Marketing, in practice, isn’t like a vocational trade you learn in school. In fact, the marketing part of the marketing career is the easiest part of the job. When I ran my agency, I always looked for a job seeker who had an ability to think through a complex problem; develop a point of view; and, finally, express this view in a cogent and concise way.
That “skill” comes from studying the Liberal Arts. Find something that interests you—History, Literature, Philosophy. Then make smart, supported arguments about your point of view.
As a marketer, I would rather have a new employee who could make a tenured professor in History rethink his view on the Russian Revolution over one who can recite the four P’s of whatever that is.
Look, I can teach you the marketing. In fact, most employers have a method that they want you to follow. But, if you are a critical thinker who can write passionately about a given topic; welcome, you have arrived at the top of the resume pile.
You simply can’t teach smart.
The added bonus to me is that the Liberal Arts are what Universities do really well. You will never get a chance to argue Shakespeare, Descartes, or Mao with people who really know their stuff like you have at a University. The best academics teach the Liberal Arts. The best marketers aren’t teaching, they are selling.
Learn to think, to write, and take advantage of the University for the experience it was created to promote. Study the Liberal Arts.