Careers in Marketing

The diversity of marketing opportunities is reflected in the many types of marketing careers, ranging from advertising to marketing research to public relations to product management. The growing concern with marketing in many nontraditional organizations, such as hospitals, financial institutions, the performing arts, and government, has added to the many opportunities offered by traditional employers such as manufacturers, retailers, consulting firms, and advertising agencies.

Although some graduates enter general management training programs or begin graduate school, most accept entry-level positions in one of the following areas: product/brand management, sales management, advertising, retailing, or consulting and marketing research.

Product/Brand Management

Many organizations assign one manager the responsibility for developing marketing plans for a particular product or a group of products. For example, Procter & Gamble has separate brand managers for each brand of coffee and Bayer has separate brand managers for products such as children's vitamins and adult vitamins. Product managers are involved in commissioning and interpreting market research studies, analyzing sales data and identify trends, working with advertising agencies to develop new campaigns, and working with sales managers to coordinate new promotions. New college graduates generally begin product management careers as brand assistants who work directly for the brand or product manger. In some firms, some experience in sales is also viewed as useful preparation for product management.

Sales Management

A wide variety of industrial, consumer goods, and service organizations come to the University of Notre Dame to seek individuals for entry level jobs that will lead to sales management and general marketing management positions. Nearly all these jobs offer an exceptional level of independence: salespeople are largely responsible for controlling their own time and activities. Because of the large number of sales positions and the importance of developing customer and/or distributor relationships, sales positions are usually very lucrative. Indeed, many individuals turn down opportunities for promotion into sales management due to these qualities.

Sales and sales management jobs do vary considerably across industries in terms of the amount of time spent on solving customer problems, helping distributors merchandise a product, monitoring competitors' activities, and demonstrating new products. Firms seeking people for sales careers include Business-to-Business firms (such as IBM and GE Medical), consumer goods firms (Procter & Gamble, General Mills), and firms providing services (Merrill Lynch and AT&T).


Advertising careers have high visibility and, for some, a glamorous image. This creates strong competition for a relatively small number of jobs. Advancement from entry-level positions, however, can occur quickly. Advertising executives often suggest that students interested in advertising seek summer programs and internships in addition to advertising course work.

Advertising positions are available in three kinds of organizations: advertisers, media, and agencies. Advertisers include manufacturers, retail stores, service firms, and many other types of companies. Often they have an advertising department responsible for preparing and placing their own ads. Advertising careers are also possible with the media: television, radio stations, magazines, and newspapers. Finally, advertising agencies offer job opportunities in account management, research, media, and creative services.

Most entry-level positions in advertising are as a media buyer -- the person who chooses and buys the media that will carry the ad -- or as a copywriter -- the person responsible for the to begin as an assistant account executive, who acts as a liaison between the client and agency creative department. Although few advertising agencies recruit on college campuses, some do recruit at the University of Notre Dame.


There are two management tracks in retailing: merchandise management and store management. The key position in merchandising is that of a buyer, who is responsible for selecting merchandise, guiding the promotion of the merchandise, setting prices, working with suppliers, training the sales force, and monitoring the competitive environment. The buyer also must be able to organize and coordinate many critical activities including specifications of product needs and supplier evaluations. In contrast, store management involves the supervision of personnel in all departments and the general management of all facilities, equipment, and merchandise displays. In addition, store managers are responsible for the financial performance of each department and for the store as a whole. Career paths to senior retail management almost always involve moving between these two tracks.

Most entry-level jobs in retailing are trainee positions. A trainee is usually placed in a management training program and then given a position as an assistant buyer or assistant department manager. Advancement and responsibility can be achieved quickly because there is a shortage of qualified personnel in retailing and superior performance of an individual is quickly reflected in sales and profits -- two visible measures of success. Firms such as Lord & Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch and Target recruit regularly at the University of Notre Dame.

Consulting and Marketing Research

Consultants and marketing researchers play important roles in many organizations today. Many are responsible for obtaining, analyzing, and interpreting data to facilitate making marketing decisions. This means consultants and researchers are basically problem solvers. Success in the area requires not only an understanding of statistics and computers but also knowledge of buyer behavior and an ability to communicate with management. Individuals who are inquisitive, methodical, analytical, and solution oriented find the field particularly rewarding. These careers are available in three kinds of firms. Marketing research consultants such as Gallup, Market Facts, or BASES contract with large companies to provide research about their products or services. Advertising agencies may provide services to help clients with questions related to advertising and promotional problems. Finally, some companies have an in-house research staff to design and execute their research projects.

Marketing researchers may start as assistants performing routine tasks, the potential for learning is enormous. Survey design, interviewing, report writing, and all aspects of the research process are challenging learning tasks and useful skills. In addition, research projects deal with very diverse problems such as consumer motivation, pricing, forecasting, and competition. The field of marketing research offers many opportunities for creative and challenging work.

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