Read this engaging interview with Valerie Caswell a Marketing Manager with Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre.
In this interview, Valerie shares why pursuing a marketing career is one of the most exciting opportunities for young students today and she shares the exact steps to help a young student find a quality career in marketing.
What is your current role?
I am the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre (SMUEC).
What education did you receive to move into your role?
I did a Bachelor of Commerce at Saint Mary’s University and pursued a double-major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. While in my fourth year of university, I applied for a part-time position at the SMUEC. While working there, I discovered that there was a lot that could be done to better represent our office on social media as a way to engage Saint Mary’s students and make them aware of the services we offer. This led to me mainly focusing on Marketing, as no one else in the office was primarily focused on that area. After my fourth year of University, the office hired me on as a full-time Marketing Coordinator during the summer months, and when I returned to University in the Fall to complete my fifth year of school, I remained full-time while also taking classes. After graduating in May 2019, I was offered a permanent position as the Marketing and Communications Manager.
I believe that my education in Marketing and Entrepreneurship prepared me for my role at the SMUEC. While in school, I also volunteered over 1000 volunteer hours as the Co-President of the Enactus society, a student-led organization that uses entrepreneurial action as a way to make a positive change in the community. Enactus provided me with an experiential learning opportunity that taught me many things I would not have learned in the classroom. It gave me the opportunity to gain leadership skills, get to know Saint Mary’s faculty and staff, and helped me in building connections in the community.
What is something that you’ve been excited to be involved in?
While in school, I was always interested in business consulting as a career path. The SMUEC offers business consulting services to startups, SME’s, and high growth companies. During my final year of school, I began speaking with a local entrepreneur who expressed their need for consulting services specifically for marketing their business. I began working with this individual, coaching them on their company’s marketing. That has since led me to work with a variety of individuals, helping them establish/optimize their business’s online presence. I am excited to get more involved in the consulting work offered through the SMUEC, specifically focusing on digital marketing.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
A big portion of my role is dedicated to igniting an entrepreneurial mindset in students from all faculties. This includes Science, Arts, Engineering, Business, and Graduate students. To do this, I work with a team to plan and execute weekly on-campus entrepreneurship events open to all students to attend. Over the past year, I have seen students gain a lot from attending these events. From building a new connection to someone in the community all the way to launching their very own business, I believe these weekly events help to inspire students, encourage them to pursue their passion, and also provide them with the support they need to succeed. I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a mindset and skill that anyone can obtain and apply to any education and career path. I love working with students who are passionate about a business idea and who take initiative to attend entrepreneurship events and utilize the services available to them on campus. Working at the entrepreneurship Centre has been extremely rewarding. While encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset onto others, I have also gained more confidence in pursuing my own passion. I recently started my own business offering social media management services to businesses.
What are some things that our children can be involved in to see if this is something they would like to do professionally?
To anyone interested in pursuing Marketing at a career, trust me there is MUCH more to it than just social media! The summer after I graduated from high school I worked in a marketing department for a small organization, which I was responsible for posting on social media. At that time, I didn’t really know what I was doing, there was no strategy regarding the content I was sharing, and I didn’t see the payoff. How could I be sure that my time spent posting on social media would actually lead to the company generating more sales? I wasn’t convinced that Marketing was for me. When I got to University I began taking business courses, and one of the required courses was Intro to Marketing. I began learning so much about marketing: identifying a target audience, the 4 P’s, determining a sustainable competitive advantage, conducting a competitive analysis, etc. I realized there was a lot more to Marketing than I had originally thought. So I began taking more Marketing courses and fell in love with my studies. One thing I didn’t learn much about in school was digital marketing, including social media marketing. I was already volunteering with Enactus as a general member, so I asked one of the project managers on the team if I could work on marketing a brand new project the team had just launched called Square Roots. Square Roots became a business, which I managed the social media accounts for, took photos of products, created graphics, maintained relationships with customers and community partners, and gained a lot of valuable marketing experience. Taking the step to volunteer with Square Roots ultimately led to my position as Co-President of Enactus which essentially led to my current career at the SMUEC.
So the moral of the story, for anyone interested in testing the waters to see if Marketing is right for them, I would recommend volunteering your time with a community organization and offering to do marketing work for them. Other steps you can take are to find a mentor who is a marketing professional. Ask them out to coffee and be prepared to ask them about their career. Ask them what a typical day in their career looks like, what they enjoy the most, what they dislike the most, what their greatest challenges are, and where they see their industry heading in the future. You can also begin to educate yourself on your own. Take the initiative to begin watching youtube videos about social media marketing, or graphics design. Take free online courses through Google Digital Garage. Attend free local events that are focused on marketing. If there are upcoming marketing events or conferences that cost money, reach out to the organizers and ask if you can volunteer. You’ll be able to network with industry professionals and normally have the opportunity to attend lectures. And if you’re still not sure where to start, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can plan a time to meet or have a phone call to discuss your interest in marketing as a career.
Marketing is an everchanging industry with plenty of opportunities! Working in marketing will give you the chance to be creative, be analytical, build relationships with people, collaborate with others, and constantly keep learning new things.
How can we learn more on the services you offer?
To learn more about the services I offer, I invite you to reach out to me via email or social media. Whether you’re a student interested in entrepreneurship or a business owner looking for consulting services, the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre offers a variety of programs and services available to everyone. To learn about these services, visit smuec.ca.
Thank You Valerie for accepting to do an interview on Marketing.
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