Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Can See The Finish Line Clearly

It feels like it has been a long time coming, but this September I will graduate with an MS-Marketing degree from the University of Cincinnati. I feel like I have been there forever, as my bachelor's degree in Business Economics is also from UC.

During the Winter and Spring quarters of 2008-09, I worked as a marketing consultant for an independent energy auditing company here in Cincinnati, Ohio. I chose this company and project as my assignment for the capstone class - the "final" course of the graduate program which is taken last in order to allow the student to encapsulate all of their previous course learnings and apply them to a real-world marketing issue. My desire to work for a client that would allow me to be fully responsible for every facet of the project (proving to the client, my professor, and myself that my acquired skills enabled me to succeed in all aspects of a project), as well as my interest in the emerging "green" movement led me to select this challenging project.

My client wished to expand their company to be a supplier of innovative, high quality, energy efficiency products. My task was to develop a comprehensive marketing plan for a solar energy based window unit. This included such things as primary and secondary research of the market and potential consumers, several go-to-market strategies, becoming noticed in a crowded marketplace (critical for any company, but of primary interest to a small company such as this), and developing a unique and sustainable branding strategy for the business.

It was a long and arduous process, but in the end I felt like I developed something of great value to my client which they could utilize as they moved forward with their business venture. Being able to honestly say that has given me even more confidence in my abilities as a marketer. I am now completely positive that I can add value to any company with which I find employment. I also received an 'A' for the project, and that helps a lot as well.

My last hurdle comes in the form of a marketing research course, which I have turned into an independent study over the Summer quarter in order to be finished by the Fall. Based partly on my extensive work background in marketing research, the professor who teaches the course in the Fall has agreed to work with me to complete the course early, and I am very grateful. As I am now in the market for a new job, I believe it is better to have the master's degree completed, rather than working on it. Being enrolled, I feel, may give an employer the impression that I am merely a student instead of a marketing professional. I want to present myself as someone who is ready to take on the challenges facing him in the workplace, and because of this I want to be finished with my degree as soon as possible.

The course is going very well so far. Upon reading all of the material, completing assignments, and discussing research with my professor, I am appreciating the chance to sharpen my current research skills and to develop new skills and techniques as well. Ultimately, I will come out the other side even more prepared for my career, be it in research or in some other area of marketing. I still have an interest in market research, and if I do not end up going back to it at a different company, I will undoubtedly use these skills to do client-side research for the company where I end up.

I now have only about six weeks left to go, and I can see the finish line clearly. I feel very proud of what I have accomplished in the last two years in this marketing program, and I cannot wait to apply all that I have learned in order to make my next employer as successful as possible.