How to Start a Career in Marketing

Group of business people having a business meeting
••• Shannon Fagan/ Stone/ Getty Images

A career in marketing can be rewarding and challenging. Marketers play a key role in helping companies sell their products and services to consumers. They must constantly determine new sales strategies and methods to keep consumers interested. If you are a skilled communicator and possess strong organizational and problem-solving skills, a career in marketing may be the right choice for you.

Is a Marketing Career Right for You?

Careers in marketing require employees to excel in certain areas:

  • Communicates thoughts, ideas, and information clearly and concisely, both in writing and verbally
  • Recognizes problems and devises an appropriate plan of action to resolve them
  • Organizes and interprets complex data
  • Generates new ideas and clearly organizes and communicates them to others

If you possess these qualities, then you may be a good candidate for a career in marketing. Marketing offers various career opportunities, so it's easy to choose one that reflects your interest, values, and personal style.

As a marketing major, you can gain experience in your chosen career by participating in an internship or volunteering in service learning and community projects. Examples of experience include:

  • Conducting market research for a Fortune 500 Company
  • Promoting products through development of point-of-purchase displays
  • Spending time reviewing potential cost, price, and market research for service programs
  • Learning how to research customer base potential using available data
  • Designing an advertising or promotional campaign to promote new services
  • Developing a marketing plan for a global business

What If I Do Not Have a Marketing Degree?

It is still possible to break into the marketing industry without a degree. However, you will need to make a strong case for why you are suitable for the position. A major requirement for most jobs is strong written and verbal communication skills. You should also indicate any past work experience that can be related to the requirements for the current position, such as sales, public relations, research, problem-solving, or anything else that indicates your suitability as a marketer. If you do get hired, you will likely start in an entry-level position as a market research assistant, print buyer, or general management trainee.

There are companies that offer specific graduate training programs or general programs that are available to graduates. Mars runs a cross-functional management development program through which graduates have access to opportunities in marketing. Recruits to the program are typically given three to four assignments, the first of which may be related to their experience or studies. The remaining assignments will be in other areas, and one may be overseas. Their goal is to broaden trainees' experiences.
Nestle recruits graduates similar to how they recruit employees at other levels. Each department recruits graduates throughout the year on an 'as required' basis. Vacancies are posted and advertised throughout the year.
Procter & Gamble's graduate training program recruits graduates into one of eight career tracks, including consumer and market knowledge and marketing. Consumer and market knowledge involves sophisticated and proactive market research-based work to identify business opportunities, including new product development. The marketing function involves growing the value of brands within the P&G product range. Marketing Trainees will learn about advertising, PR, consumer bonding, direct marketing, and project management within their first two years. The applicants are selected according to the application form, a problem-solving test, interview, and site visit, where they will meet prospective managers and colleagues.

If you decide the graduate training program route is not for you, you can still break into the field of marketing. Be persistent, develop the necessary skills, and build a good resume that clearly communicates those skills to prospective employers.