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If I am looking at majoring in Marketing, how do I know which specific type is right for me?

I don't have time to take a class for every specific type of marketing major to give things a try, so how do I know which major to go with? #college-major #choosing-major

When you major in marketing your curriculum will include very general marketing courses at first before you really will have to choose elective courses. The general marketing courses typically give you a broad cross-section of the various marketing disciplines (e.g, branding, marketing research, social media, public relations, marketing analytics, etc) so that you will have an idea of the work involved in the various areas. Also, look for local chapters of the American Marketing Associations or other of the like. These organizations often have membership options for students where you might have the opportunity to speak with/network with established professionals interested in mentoring young people. Cheryl Baez

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18 answers

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Deep’s Answer

Similar to what the others have said - Get a feel within your Marketing 101 course and see what particular areas would interest you. It could be Branding, Advertising, PR, Research, Digital or Events. If something gets your attention, look into it more through the web (search, YouTube) or ask around your college (talk to a professor & adviser, join the American Marketing Association or a Marketing group on campus). Hopefully, that'll help you narrow down options.

Most importantly, you do have to ask yourself, what skills do I possess that can make a positive impact in a certain area of Marketing.

Side note - Don't get too caught up on getting the "right" type right now, as Marketing is massive, so keep an open mindset. The reason why I would say don't get caught up is because when you do get a Marketing position, you'll most likely be involved in a lot of areas of Marketing, where you can get a hands-on look at how the different parts of Marketing actually work and come together.

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Nina’s Answer

I have an undergraduate Marketing degree and got to try a variety of classes for this major including advertising, brand strategy, management, digital marketing, etc. While these classes helped me know what I liked and didn't like, I applied for all sorts of marketing jobs. I only tried to avoid applying for positions in the areas I knew that I would not enjoy or be good at. Basically, I developed skills in many different areas and in many different industries through internships during summers between school years and in my first few jobs after college. After about 5 years working, I knew I wanted to develop more of an expertise in one particular area and went back and got a graduate degree in a more specialized field. Unless you know absolutely what you want to do now, there is no need to commit yet. Enjoy and explore your options.

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Matthew’s Answer

Hey Hannah! Awesome question and I struggled with the same thing myself for a bit.

Everyone has great input, but I thought to throw the 2-cents of a recent marketing grad whose experience is a mile wide but an inch deep.

I would say think about why you believe marketing is the right major for you in the first place. For me, I knew that I loved learning about psychology and why people do what they do. From working jobs, I realized that I loved knowing what needed to be done and getting it done either myself or by delegating tasks or collaborating with necessary teammates.

Psych + Consumer focus + Big picture thinking = Consumer insights + Strategy.

Talking with strangers + Problem Solving + Task focused = Sales/Business development

Math + Numbers + technology = Agency work specializing in Media buying

Math + Numbers + Details + Connecting dots = Analyst/Researcher

Numbers + Social Media + Advertising = PR/Advertising/Media Planning

These are general and based off of chats with agencies so hope it helps!

Matthew recommends the following next steps:

Work for new clients every year? Try an agency!
Specialize in one particular industry? Try consumer insights or innovation at a corporation!
Volunteer! Fill out an application and if you can't see yourself doing the task every week, you know what you want.

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Alexis’s Answer

I would like into what you like to do. Do you enjoy social media, youtube? Who writes all those posts and create content? Are you interested in making blogs and traveling? What about creating a strategy to create awareness for a brand? Do you see people traveling and working remotely? What about learning how google gets those ADs on places you didn't even imagine? I would look to see who inspires you and see what type of marketing or creative services they do and research a bit! School is great avenue also via general marketing classes but check out if there are any communication type roles you can do in organizations like student government or club activities.

Alexis recommends the following next steps:

Find influencers who inspire you
Learn what they do specifically that you like
Then make a list of skills to start looking into learning

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Jack’s Answer

This is a big career question...

Why are you interested in marketing? What peaks your curiosity about the field? Does "business" interest you? Do "people" as consumers interest you?

If you are just curious...maybe have taken a Marketing 101 class...thinking on an exploratory step to enter th field; take one or more of the following steps:

1. Google various marketing terms i.e., marketing, digital marketing, social media, advertising, direct marketing, marketing research, field marketing, channel marketing, public relations, branding, product management, content marketing, inbound marketing, creative marketing, sales promotion, event marketing and more.

2. Take a deeper "dive" into those terms that may be more meaningful.

3. Talk to people in your personal "circles" (family members, neighbors, people in your church, etc.) who may work in one or more of these fields.

4. Find people on Linkedin in whatever area of your interest. Connect. Send message of introduction. Ask your questions.

5. Research professional industry associations. Identify and reach out to sources within each organization. Inquire about professions.

6. Research and find "agencies" that may focus on your areas of interest. Via the web, identify potential contacts that may be a source of information that may provide you with greater clarity on areas of interest.

7. Talk to teachers/professors in the business department of your college or university.

8. Attend professional conferences and trade shows.

9. Seek out internships (short-term) with organizations that have areas that may interest you.

10. Given the above, you should be able to identify what you want to do via first hand knowledge and experience.


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Skylar’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

I wouldn't rush it personally. You have a lot of time to figure out what forms of marketing you are interested in. Marketing is a very broad field, there are many different forms. Some may be creative, while others may be more analytical. I'd highly suggest looking into free courses and certifications that you can do for free online. Canva has some free courses you can take which would allow you to practice creating graphics and other marketing materials. Adobe Creative suite would also allow you to play with more creative projects with Illustrator and Photoshop. Google has many free courses as well such as Google Ads, Google Analytics, and fundamentals of digital marketing which will take you in-depth about what you may be doing in an advertising or digital marketing role. Lyndalearning also has a wide variety of courses that you can look into as well and those classes will be free since you currently attend university. By tapping into some of these outside resources you can start finding out what truly interests you. If I am going to be completely honest, many of these specialized forms of marketing are not taught directly in the class. Marketing is constantly evolving so quickly that much of what you will end up doing will not be taught in class but more so online through courses or in the workforce. Also getting an internship will allow you to work on a wide variety of projects and tasks and you will be able to find things that you enjoy and others that you don't.

I wish you luck in your future!

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Corey’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

I struggled with this question a lot while I was in school as well! One thing that complicated the question was understanding what the day-in day-out would look like once I got a job. Luckily, many of the tools that marketers use in their daily lives are free or offer free versions! I would recommend watching some videos on google's academy for ads and analytics (free). That will give you a good feel for an advertising position might look like. I would say advertising positions are probably the most abundant entry level openings.

If analyzing data and tracking behavioral trends isn't up your alley, try some of the more creative products. Adobe creative suite is kind of the gold standard in the graphic design world but it has a long learning curve. There are tons of tutorial videos on youtube if that's appealing to you! To just get some practice and an eye for design, though I'd check out Canva. It's free and incredibly easy to use. Try making a flyer for a club, school event, or party you're throwing! Try to have fun with it!

I'm a big believer in learning by doing and especially learning what you don't like by doing! You aren't gonna know until you give it a shot. Be patient too, some of these tools are dense and difficult to use at first. Don't confuse a lack of interest with frustration. I hope you found some of this helpful!

Corey recommends the following next steps:

Google academy (free)
Canva (free and easy to use)
Adobe Creative Suite (hard to use but most applicable) $20/month for a student account

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Jennifer’s Answer

You're right - Marketing is a very broad field and it can get overwhelming knowing which direction to go. Don't get too caught up on the specific major, it's more important to get involved and get experience. Any marketing or communications major should provide the knowledge necessary to do well in the marketing field. I personally did a Communications major with a Marketing Minor and a Social Media Minor - this combo was perfect for the marketing job I have now, which touches all aspects of marketing.

If you do figure out a specific area you want to pursue, you can always change to a specific major later down the road, and most of your intro classes from a general marketing major will likely still apply to any specific major. Transferring shouldn't be too much of an issue, but a general marketing or communications major will do the trick if you don't want to go into a technical area like Marketing Analytics.

Additionally, I think real world experience is more important than the class specifics - get involved on campus! Student organizations, internships, volunteering, etc. are great ways to get experience. Please often complain about entry-level jobs asking for 2-3 years of experience.. this is how you get that experience! Who says those years of experience have to be done in a typical paid 9-5 job?

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Rachel’s Answer

Hi Hannah,

I would advise that you figure out what it is you like to do or what you feel more pulled towards. Marketing is very diverse and creative. There are endless possibilities for you in this field. I wouldn't try to narrow down a specific area of study right away. I would recommend that you just start and figure out what specific area you feel pulled towards as you're learning about the field.

I'm currently in grad school for digital marketing and analytics, and to be honest it took me 13 years to figure out what I wanted to study. I honestly wished I had jumped on it sooner because of all the opportunities I'm experiencing now!

Like the previous answers above suggest, read up on as much as you can and try to volunteer or get an internship to gain experience.

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Michael’s Answer

Marketing is very broad so its important to rely on your natural skillset to help guide your focus. In my case I was naturally great at art ( drawing, painting, etc). Those natural ability eventual led on the path to becoming a art director. So if you enjoy writing, a copywriter or communication manager might be the path you would want to take. Usually a undergraduate degree is very broad, but your minor is more specific.

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Rajavi’s Answer

I have got a Masters in Marketing & Management and it is true that you cannot take every class possible but you would learn the basics of Marketing in most classes you take. Currently the market trends require you to have knowledge in Digital Marketing as well as branding and advertising mainly because if you are given a product or service to promote, you need to know on what platform and through what mediums would you promote it and brand it to the potential customers.

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Neil’s Answer

Suggest you take classes in marketing and advertising and read books. This is quite a diverse area with opportunities in a number of areas. Internships are important to give you a chance to test drive what you might like.

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Taylor’s Answer

I wouldn't try to figure out which one area you will specifically do for the rest of your life, especially since all areas of marketing are so intertwined. When I started my master's degree in communication, I thought I would focus in social media strategy. Now, I'm doing a lot of user experience design and market research and I love it.

You may find the thing you enjoy doing isn't a specific type of marketing. For me, I love anything that involves understanding an audience's behavior and the choices that people make. That means I enjoy creating audience personas, segmenting audiences, doing consumer and trends research, crafting digital strategy based on behavioral theory, and creating websites designed with behavioral research in mind.

Don't box yourself in. Allow yourself to learn as much as you can about everything before making a decision. The benefit of this is that whatever you end up choosing as a career path, you'll be able to better collaborate across teams because you will understand the type of work that they do.

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Bobby’s Answer

I'm a pretty good salesman in my day.

Hi Bobby, your answer does not address the student's question. How can they figure out what type of marketing is best for them? How did you discover being a salesman was a good fit for you? Gurpreet Lally

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Jennifer’s Answer

As someone who is coming from the world of design and returning to school for marketing, I absolutely sympathize with the difficult of figuring out specifically what you want to do.

My sweet and short answer is:

Volunteer or find an internship!

You will be able to get a taste of a little bit of everything when you choose to volunteer or intern. One of the best experiences I had was working as an intern for a startup. I worked directly with the VP of Marketing and he was able to show me the ropes. I quickly learned from that experience what I liked and didn't like in the world of marketing.

I'll list some additional next steps that might help you in the meantime below:

Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

Start out with your basic course and see if there is anything that you gravitate towards
Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks about Marketing
Visit the Library and find books on Marketing
Test out your Marketing brain with online courses - Youtube, Lynda or LinkedIn Learning

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Noah’s Answer

I majored in political science with with minors in environmental science and graduated in 2017. Now I'm in growth marketing. There’s no one specific way to get in the marketing sphere and no specific topic of entry that will be more beneficial than the next.

To your question: start anywhere. (preferably at a company you admire). You’ll figure out which one is right for you after a few jobs-but its a process. The one thing that will hold you back when you are beginning your career is waiting for the perfect opportunity. The main point is you should focus on starting. Figure out what you don't like. Pay attention to the tasks that make you feel motivated.

I hope that helps!

Noah recommends the following next steps:

When it comes time to apply to jobs- its a numbers game at first. Apply to 70-100 jobs with easy-apply on linkedin. For companies that you really value, write a cover letter or create a project that fits the roles of the job.

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Sarah’s Answer

Everyone already offered many great suggestions! I just wanted to add that you can change later as well. Simply because you choose one area of marketing today, it does not mean that you are locked into it for your whole career. Consider people who studied marketing in 2005. Smart phones did not even exist then. Facebook was a brand new, tiny website. Entire areas of marketing did not exist! Those people are still in the middle of their career. Thing will change in ways we cannot anticipate. Explore a bit and then choose what seems best right now. Adapt the plan as you get new information, through volunteering, projects, internships etc.

Sarah recommends the following next steps:

Explore a bit now, in the ways suggested above.
Choose one area of marketing, but keep an open mind.
Accept that as you get more experience, you will likely adapt your plan. The world may evolve entire new areas of marketing during your career. So it's best to start somewhere and accept that change will likely happen.

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Yu Hei’s Answer

As someone who did not major in Marketing specifically but is currently involved in the industry, I would advise just to try everything out and see which ones jump out at you!

There are many opportunities during university to get involved with extracurricular organizations, internships, and co-op. You don't necessarily have to know right from the start which type of marketing you want to get into. I would also like to recommend working with local non-profit organizations to see if they need any volunteer work with their branding (non-profits are almost always looking for help).

If you want to see if you enjoy copy writing, try writing on platforms like LinkedIn or Medium to see if you enjoy it. To check out if you like the optimization and statistics side of it, take the Google course for Analytics and the Google Individual Qualifications. If you want the more creative side of it, design some logos and other promotional material.

There are a TON of resources available online to learn marketing techniques and knowledge, try out the courses on Lynda that are available free with your university/college. Udemy also has a few good courses as well.

Yu Hei recommends the following next steps:

Join extracurricular organizations that you're interested in and get involved with their marketing
Look for marketing internships within your area
Take courses online such as Google Analytics, Hubspot Inbound, and on Lynda