Sometimes, I can’t believe that 7 months after I started a marketing internship, here I am in the middle of another internship in a related field, marketing research. Other times, I feel that I’m going in a natural trajectory; going from coordinating marketing plans in my previous internship, to my current internship where I am fully immersed in the study of consumers and informing marketing departments so they know what marketing plans to coordinate. Being an intern right now both has its positive attributes, as well as not-so-stellar ones.
The first month was all about learning not only the protocols that are standard within the company, but also about the specific, and seemingly complicated procedures involved in market research. For someone with a background more in the positioning, communications and promotion sides of marketing, approaching questions in a scientific way and learning methodologies seems overwhelming. At first, I felt like that type of work I was doing was more suited for a lab research environment than in an office-type setting. While we’re not dealing with medical conditions, we’re definitely dealing with the psychology of consumers, not to persuade them to adopt a certain product (since that’s the point of positioning/advertising), but to gather genuine data about their feelings, thoughts and attitudes about a product, a category or even about themselves.
Among us in the office, I may be the only one who majored in English literature, since many of my coworkers majored either in psychology or marketing or marketing research. Especially the latter ones, they already knew that they were interested in this industry, even while in college, which I think may be one of the best things that can happen to someone– to know at such a young age what they absolutely, irrevocably want to do as a career.
As for me, my path wasn’t as straight as many of my peers. I pursued, and am still pursuing, everything that was of interest to me. I was only able to realize what I was truly inclined toward, as I look back and connected the dots. I examined the qualities and environments that I enjoyed the most in my previous work experiences, to understand why I was so drawn to them. This whole topic can be further discussed in another post, but in short, there’s a lot of things common to psychology, marketing and English majors. Most, if not all, are very interested in the motives, thoughts and stories behind people, from the possibilities of human achievements to the vicissitudes of the human condition.
For most of my early life, I’ve had a proclivity toward science. I was always in science clubs since third grade (when I realized I wanted something more dense and analytical than theatre.) I even initially planned to major in chemistry and go to pharmacy school. Then in college, I was enamored with stories and interactions between people, schools of thought, and words. After college, I went straight into finance and even enrolled in a short business program at Stanford.
Marketing research is the point where science, human interaction and business intersect. We may not be in a lab wearing white coats and handling test tubes, but we definitely use the scientific method in approaching problems and testing hypotheses. We survey people’s attitudes and interactions to understand their thoughts when making purchases, in order to know what they like, what we think companies can give them to satisfy both consumers’ needs and their bottom line. We use business instinct to advise clients against disastrous decisions and toward profitability.
So far so good. The only adverse side of what I’m doing right now is that it’s an internship, especially at a point where I think I can both do more and earn more for my skills and what I can contribute. But I know that time will come soon, so right now, all I have to do is focus on doing my best at what I’m expected to do, understand that no job is beneath me, and find opportunities where I can make those contributions that I feel I can make in a full-time job. Just because I’m an intern doesn’t mean my title summarizes my worth, capabilities and opportunities. I will still produce work at the highest caliber, as efficiently as possible, to the level of which my skills are worthy.