In high school I wanted to be either a psychiatrist or a men’s hair stylist. But my first job as an appointment setter for a nation-wide buying club changed all that. From setting appointments, to completing market research surveys, to managing marketing initiatives for Fortune 100 companies, my career in marketing found me.
A Teenage Girl and Her Phone – My love for talking on the telephone, coupled with my experience on my high school forensics team, made me a natural for telemarketing. One evening, as my parents were listening to a sales pitch by a representative for a national buying co-op, I imposed myself into the conversation. The salesman was so impressed with my understanding of his program that he offered me $5 for every appointment I could set for him. (Back in 1973, the minimum wage was only $1.60 an hour; I thought I had hit the jackpot.) So I went to work, phone in hand, and my career in marketing was born – even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
My Early Years – From appointment setting I transitioned to completing market research surveys. Some were over the phone, but others required door-to-door communications. I can’t say that it was a whole lot of fun, but it was income, and at the time I did not have a college degree. After that, the experience I had gathered landed me a decent job as an advertising sales rep for a direct mail coupon company. By now my career was well on its way to being molded into the marketing arena, but I still did not realize it.
College – After a while I got to the point where my income potential was somewhat limited by my education. I didn’t want to stay in sales for the rest of my life, so I started to school at a local community college. I opted to pursue concurrent A.A.S. degrees, one in management and the other in public relations. From there I transferred to a university, and after 6-1/2 years of study, earned my B.S.B.A. in marketing.
Birth of a Marketing Professional – While completing my Bachelor’s degree in marketing I worked as an inside sales supervisor for a medical supply company. From there I worked as an inside sales manager for a restaurant supply company. By then I had accumulated 10+ years of experience in sales and marketing, as well as a degree in marketing from a well-respected university. Those credentials landed me a job as the Director of Call Center Operations for a national advertising and marketing communications agency. There, I managed marketing programs for companies like IBM and General Motors.
Today – I now work independently as a marketing consultant and manager through that same agency. It’s a far cry from hustling consumer appointments over the telephone, but I am thankful for my humble beginnings. Working my way up the ladder allowed me to learn many aspects of the marketing arena. That resulted in me being a more effective marketing manager, even if it was not a conscious choice.
Advice to Others –
– It doesn’t matter what job you have, just do the very best you can at it. The experiences you accumulate will earn you advancement.
– It’s never too late to go back to school. At age 50 I went back to college and earned a degree in environmental science so that I could increase my breadth of expertise.
– It’s OK to let your career choose you. Just be sure it’s something you can enjoy for several years to come.