MBA Students: Choose Your First Marketing Job Wisely

If I may, I’d like to provide you with some thoughts about this opportunity. I’m going to give you some perspective on how these early decisions will impact your entire life – thoughts you may not have had. These are considerations I didn’t make when I accepted my internship offer at Procter & Gamble in the 80s. I got lucky and had the right mentor, Chris Puto, who pushed me in the right direction. He convinced me to turn down exciting offers (I turned down two internship opportunities to work at Ogilvy & Mather on Microsoft – the Google of the late 80s – and Mattel – the fun brand at the time) to take a “corporate” and less exciting job at Procter & Gamble, where I spent all summer working on Dash, the world’s smallest and most insignificant laundry detergent brand. On day one, my boss (Rick Thompson – a great coach and mentor) asked me what laundry detergent I used and I said “I don’t know.” That’s how excited I was to work on laundry detergent. But here is some perspective:

1. Your work “brand” is enduring. Procter & Gamble was and still is considered a top-tier general management/marketing company. Just like Harvard and Darden are “ranked” higher than many other schools and have greater prestige, companies are also ranked. However, while your educational “brand” influences early job opportunities, your work “brand” will dominate over the course of your career. It endures. When I talk to executive recruiters who place C-level executives in different roles, they care about the “training” and “experience” a job candidate has had, particularly in the formative part of their career. Working at a great company (I mean businesses that are successful, that have a pedigree for being leaders in their industry over time and that have a reputation for creating best-in-class businesspeople) is a brand stamp that will follow you for the next 40 years. It can open doors that otherwise would be shut. I learned this when, during my second year of the MBA program, every company I wanted to interview with wanted to interview me. Why? Because I now had P&G on my resume...


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