Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting the Job Done Independently

Working independently with little supervision is something I am finding to be a valuable and often required skill as I continue with both my capstone project and job search. It seems that most of the jobs I see posted on different online forums require an applicant to be able to work effectively with little supervision or management of any kind. Employers are basically saying they want someone that knows or can quickly learn their job, and then contribute to the company in a significant way. They would like a person who can complete their work, and to have other skills to offer as well. A person who shows initiative in the workplace by adding additional value where they can. An analytical person who can define and solve problems quickly. A person who does not need to be coached on what to do all of the time. This is someone that growth-oriented companies want to have on their team.
I find that as a marketing professional, serving this need could not be more important. Many people in a business do not fully understand what marketing is and how it does what it does to establish their company image with the public, drive sales, and a host of other things. Because this understanding is not always there, it is up to the marketer alone to determine what their role will be, what the marketing needs of the company are, and how they can add the appropriate value to achieve company goals. Throughout my capstone, I have found myself working independently on the marketing process. In the beginning, I assumed that I would have much more contact with my client than I have had since the project began. I figured I would be bouncing ideas off of him, have him respond favorably or not, and then I would have a clearer picture of what his business vision was as I continued on. It has not worked out that way at all.
My client is very smart at what he does. However, he is neither a business man, nor a marketer and does not pretend to be either one (although, in my view there is something to be said about the relationships he has developed within his industry to get so many referrals). He really values my presence, but perhaps a little too much. He calls me his marketing expert and it seems that he expects me to just show him what to do when it comes to marketing. I have received very little direction from him. On top of this, the energy auditing business he is currently running is keeping him extremely busy as of late, making it hard to reach him, or keep a scheduled meeting. Because of this, I have had to step up and be what he wants and what he needs me to be. I decided to embrace this as much as I can, and treat it as an opportunity to be the marketer I will have to establish myself as in the work place. I have done a lot of independent work, and have taken the initiative to come with ideas, and even change them as trends and opportunities change, or as new information reveals the need to make a change for the better in some aspect of the plan. I am showing initiative, creating value, and really displaying my worth as a marketer with analytical and problem solving skills.
As a result, my confidence is being boosted, and I am finding ways to delve deeper into the industry my client is a part of rather than relying on him to take me there and teach me. This is my job as a marketing professional, not my client’s. I was hired on to provide value where my client can not. Otherwise, I would not be useful to his business. I now realize that the absence of micro-management is the greatest thing that could happen to a marketer, and ultimately means more opportunity for me to shine. I am confident that by the end of this quarter I will have presented a plan worthy of his use; a plan that will be invaluable to him as he continues his business in this new area of product supplier. I can truly say that I have pushed myself (and been pushed) to really come alive as a marketer during this capstone experience, and am developing the necessary dexterity to be effective in the workforce.