I’ve been thinking about explaining why I’m fascinated with marketing so much, and it turns out that many people don’t understand this field well and have some misconceptions about it. It’s not just about persuading people to buy more. It’s about understanding the motivations behind someone’s actions, understanding how to create a service that will change lives for the better, and much more. As a Japanese living in the U.S. with a student visa, I have made a long journey. I’ll tell you all about my love for marketing and how it transformed into active steps toward my dream.
The History Behind My Decision: The Roots of My Interest
As a kid, I didn’t know the meaning of the word “marketing” and what a typical marketing job includes. But looking back, it’s evident that many of my interests emerged in the cradle of this industry. For example, I was fond of advertisements on the television because they seemed to me a representation of short movies where a terrible problem was solved. It showed such a great diversity of things that I, unsurprisingly, was fond of almost all of them. My parents even tried to change channels during the commercials, but I was having none of it!
I am a deeply visual person who believes that you can evoke deep emotions in an individual if you use strong messages and know what you’re doing. However, as a child, I only knew that some things made me extremely passionate about the topic. I had a small collection of beautiful magazine covers, funny ads from my dad’s newspapers, and other printed things I could put my hands on. My childhood room was covered in beautiful and weird images, and I was drawing a lot as a kid. This interest of mine was not specifically focused on marketing. But because you often see large investments in advertising, a lot of my first impressions stemmed from sophisticated pictures I saw everywhere around me.
I loved walking on the street and watching other people putting new banners on. I liked everything bright and shiny.
Although I often simply drew things like clothes or animals, I also tried to recreate some advertisements of the items I owned. One of my first experiments in the marketing field was when I tried to sell my old toys by putting hand-drawn advertisements on the street. Needless to say, my parents weren’t thrilled. And there were a few kids who wanted to buy my toys! So, we can’t say that it was all for nothing.
Some of the ads deeply impressed me. For example, I loved all commercials from Pepsi because they were often strange, funny, and appealing. One of the older ones I saw later on the Internet, Pepsi taste challenge, was so thought-provoking that I started to look for more ads that used animals in their ads.
Furthermore, it was the time when the beauty industry started to invest in YouTube videos, and I was passionate about them as a teenager. My favorite channel was the one by Michelle Phan who was already well-known among my peers. However, I wasn’t thinking about simply buying these products. I tried to understand why my favorite vloggers showed specific items and why they were always so positive.
As I grew older, I saw a much greater interest in the old print ads; they were from a different era, and I wanted to know everything about it. As soon as my parents gave me more freedom with the Internet, I looked for such visuals. I loved Toyota and Honda ads from the 60s and 70s. They looked like science fiction pictures, and I couldn’t get more.
And that’s how my interest grew stronger.
The Benefits of Marketing
As I understood my interests, I began to pose a different question to myself: “Is marketing a good major?” It wasn’t the field that I was familiar with, and I’ve learned more about what the degree offers and what I can expect from it. At that moment, I was still in the denial process. I thought it was just a simple thought experiment, for fun.
In the U.S., this field is pretty well-paid, and I was fascinated by my options. I have learned that a marketing manager gets about $142,170 per year. Although his degree has varying salaries depending on the experience, company size, and other factors, I have realized that there are many fascinating options to choose from. Here’s a short overview of salaries in a marketing field:
- Advertising and promo: Up to $140,000 per year
- Sales manager: Up to $130,000 per year
- PR and Fundraising: Up to $120,000 per year
- Market research: Up to $70,000 per year
- Advertising sales agent: Up to $60,000 per year
I didn’t know a lot about the U.S. financial system, but after some reading, I realized that the answer to “is marketing a good major?” should be “yes.”
Well, I realized that the salaries were good, but what if the degree itself would be boring or would be unsuitable? When I first started to think about it, I knew that marketing was something about advertising. And that’s why I tried to associate myself with only TV commercials or YouTube videos offering me to subscribe to a new streaming service. However, I realized that there are many industries where my talent would be needed. These are some of the industries that would like to hire someone with a marketing major:
- Non-profit organizations
That’s when I accepted my interest and, instead of trying to persuade myself to choose something less creative, I’ve started to dream about myself in such a profession. I learned that a specialist in marketing can be a marketing analyst, marketing manager, content marketer, social media manager, SEO content creator, and even achieve the highest positions on the corporate ladder! And most importantly, it would allow me to try lots of different things! I couldn’t believe that such an educational focus had not been such a simple choice to me before.
My First Steps on the New Path
My interest in a marketing degree did not vanish even after long consideration, and I’ve decided to simply research the most important steps a typical international student should take to get from point A to point B.
- Make a list. Since the U.S. is a large country, it has a lot of universities that offer students to obtain a marketing major. Sending an application to any institution isn’t free and it might cost from $35. I’ve been thinking about my abilities and the chances of getting accepted, so I’ve decided to opt for 10 universities. However, after I reviewed the living conditions on one of the websites, I realized that it would be too expensive for me, and I ended up with 9 options total.
- Understand financing options. It’s expensive to study abroad. If a person wants to get a degree in marketing from a highly respected university, it can be so difficult that many Americans still suffer from student debt. However, there’s no need to fall into despair: many international students can receive financial aid from their own government, from the U.S. organizations, or directly from a chosen institution.
- Get a transcript evaluation. I graduated from high school and wanted to pursue my undergraduate education in the U.S. Most students with the same situation will need to have their transcripts evaluated to ensure that the learned skills and degree can be transferred to the foreign country’s education system.
- Meet language requirements. All international students have to prove their knowledge of the English language to ensure that they can study with their classmates. Most universities also require an official proof of the level of English knowledge. IELTS or TOEFL are the typical standardized tests that most colleges accept together with an application.
- Collect recommendation letters. Students often get such letters from their teachers, school staff, or other people who worked with them in the academic field. It can be quite tricky and time-consuming to ask a person for such a piece of writing and not appear too pressuring, so it’s better to ask as many people as possible and in advance.
- Include personal statements. Most colleges ask for a personal statement that will represent a person’s motivation, interests, strengths and weaknesses, and specific unique quirks that will make them a good candidate for the school.
- Succeed in the entrance exam. Depending on the institution, every student should complete an exam to be accepted. It showcases the academic skills of an individual compared to other candidates. It can be quite challenging, especially if you’re considering many places to apply to.
- Send an application. I’ve already mentioned that it’s a paid procedure. Also, you might get lost on the website of all the colleges, so read every detail in advance.
- Apply for a student visa. To be allowed to study in the U.S., an international student must have a student visa.
Although the number of tasks was immense, I realized that it was quite manageable. And I don’t regret it!
Benefits of a Marketing Degree
There’s nothing strange about liking marketing not only for its potential salary benefits. In fact, I would say that wages were the secondary reason for my choice. While studying, I have realized that I consider marketing a good career for these reasons:
- It is a highly creative field. As a marketing professional, you’ll have a lot of fascinating things to experiment with. As a person who has always loved art, I feel that it’s the only field that can manifest my abilities adequately. It allows me to use materials such as paint or paper to make fun projects or work with different programs from Canva to Photoshop to create unexpected projects.
- It is very people-oriented work. Marketing profession is great for those who love working with large teams. During my learning process, I usually brainstorm with a whole class. It was strange at first because it was so loud, but I grew to enjoy this process. Most of the time, I try to subtly move the discussion in a direction that I believe to be good, but I don’t have the central role when speaking. So, even if you’re an introvert, it’s a good thing for you.
- It is a flexible career. I talked to lots of people already working or training in marketing, and they told me that it’s possible to work remotely or travel a lot if the company has the budget for that. Even more so, marketing professionals are among the first to get invited to other locations for work! I’m always down for some more great experiences.
- It is rich in activities. I’m not the number one party girl, of course. But I just LOVE visiting creative parties, art festivals, knowledge-sharing events, and other similar activities. Our professors often ask us to participate in awesome events even outside of our university, just to get more experience. During my educational journey, I’ve already visited more than 20 events related to marketing! And we’re quite popular in the uni, by the way.
- It has significant career growth. I don’t know a marketing specialist who has stopped diversifying their career activities. Also, it’s a very rewarding profession where you can always achieve promotion when you work hard. Even more, since this industry is never stopping, you are guaranteed to learn your entire life, so it won’t get boring.
- You see the results of your efforts. Marketing connects with the people it is targeted at. You can see the results of your analytics or how well the consumers will perceive your product or service. It’s a very rewarding experience, and I’ve had only minor roles in several experimental campaigns in my uni. I can’t wait to see how it feels to have a full-time job!
Is Marketing for You? Questions to Yourself
You might be interested in this profession. But if you want to know whether working in marketing is for you or not, think about if you have these features:
- Active imagination
- Love for human contact
- Openness to novelty
- Team management
- Emotional intelligence
- Basic psychology knowledge
You might say that most of the people don’t have so many good skills about them, and it’s true. But what matters is deciding that you are ready to try learning these abilities. If you feel uncomfortable thinking about it, you probably won’t be comfortable with the marketing field as it can be stressful. Another interesting thing to do is to ask yourself these questions to make sure that marketing is good for you.
- Do you understand how the layout of the store can affect your purchasing decisions?
- Are you interested in the history of advertising?
- Can you imagine creating a questionnaire to ask your target audience about their expectations about a product or a service?
- Are you fascinated by the marketing success of your favorite brand? Do you know what appeals to you in it?
These are only some of the examples that you’ll ask yourself everyday if you decide to study marketing. If it wasn’t interesting, perhaps your talents will be better suited in a different area of learning! If you want to learn more, look for some popular books on marketing or even ask your friend learning marketing for an introductory book on the subject.
Some Final Thoughts
I was lucky enough to recognize that marketing is exactly for me, but some people are hesitant. If you’re only thinking about it, don’t jump right into this major without thinking about it. Read about marketing in books and watch documentaries. If you’ll still find joy in what you read, it means you are on the right track. And this text can help you organize and apply for a chosen uni. Good luck!