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Help Building a Gameplan For a Career In Market Research Analysis
June 12, 2014 6:30 PM   Subscribe

So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to land a career in market research analysis. Below are the steps I’ve laid out for myself. Could you tell me if this is a good game plan to get where I want to go?

1. Take a market research class to see if I like it

2. Get major/minor set up correctly

3. Figure out LinkedIn and how to network

4. Follow the advice from the following link

5. Get an internship in market research

6. Figure out if a masters is needed and if so how to get it

7. Get masters

8. Look for job, using steps 3, 4, 5, and 7 as selling points in my resume.

9. Get job

About me:
I’m 25, I’ve never really had a job more serious than a first job kind of job (This summer I’m going to be getting a job at a Dollar General as a sales associate… a job that a 15 year old could do).

I’ve been in college off and on since 2007 trying to find myself and figure out what the heck I should do with my life. Don’t worry though: I was in community college (and paid as I went) up until Fall 2013, which was my first semester at Texas State University in San Marcos under the major of psychology.

Combining my entire college career, I have a GPA of 3.10 with 95 earned hours (hours that are unfortunately all over the place). But just in my time at Texas State University under the major of psychology, I have a GPA of 3.88. I don’t know which GPA counts.

Unfortunately, I have so many random hours that to get a marketing/statistics degree I would have to surpass 120 earned hours, and after you get past 120, you are charged out of state tuition. There is no way I can afford to pay that, so I’m stuck with my major of psychology. My minor right now is in English, which I need to change into something useful. I don’t know whether a minor in statistics or marketing would get me to where I need to be to land a career in market research analysis.

The reason I’m leaning towards market research analysis is because I am good at math (in that I have never gotten less than an A in a college math class - I’ve taken classes in college algebra, intro to statistics, and just last semester, behavioral statistics). I thoroughly enjoyed my sociology class (got an A in that too) but it was a bit on the easy side, so I don’t know if I’d enjoy it as much if I had a boot camp style professor. I research everything that I buy and cross research it, so I think I may have the right mentality to do research. The reason I chose psychology was to understand people and how they think, which is a big component (just not on an individual scale) in figuring out who will buy what and why. Additionally, I have a knack for writing (my writing may not be the best right now as I’m a little tired).

Are these good enough reasons?

A couple of problems/concerns I have about market research analysis.

I’m a little slow. Obviously, I’ve been fast enough to finish my work and get an A in every math class, but I have to work longer and harder than most people, it seems. But this is how I am with everything… I’m just a slow but steady person. I don’t know if it’s a side effect of my high functioning autism or my perfectionist nature, but it’s just a reality of who I am. I don’t know if this will get in the way too much in my job as I’d be working under tight deadlines.

Secondly, what if I burn out? I know it’s a hectic career, and I don’t handle stress too well. I enjoy numbers, formulas, and data because they are always predictable and reliable in a world full of crazy chaos, but I don’t know whether or not I could spend the rest of my life hunched over a computer compiling numbers. I may be able to, I don’t know. I know there is more to the job, but this is the heart of it, correct?

I apologize if that was too long of a question, but I just have a lot to ask and I’m not the best at condensing my thoughts!
posted by ggp88 to Education (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I do sales analysis and I didn't major in it or anything like that. I basically apprenticed and then got good at it.

So, do you have a bachelors? If not, perhaps go back to school and change your major to Business, Marketing or Economics. Business will be the easiest to be honest. GPAs don't matter AT ALL. My GPA in my undergrad degree (English Lit) was 2.0. My GPA with my MBA was 3.5 (What a difference Word Processing makes.) Either way, I've never been asked.

So this is what your plan can look like:

1. Take into business and marketing classes with an eye towards changing major.

2. Do internships

3. Get an entry-level marketing job, working with data.

4. Learn Excel, Marketo, Eloqua and other standard, marketing software. Classes in how these integrate with wouldn't hurt. SQL is kind of important too.

5. After working in the field for awhile, determine if a Masters would be any better than just learning software on your own. If so, have your company pay for it.

6. Enjoy a nice job, with decent pay.

As for working slowly, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I've found that those of us who are analysts are considered rare birds, most of the other folks tiptoe around us and give us room to do our magic. They don't give us deadlines, they ask politely how long we think it will take us to accomplish something, then they skulk out of our cubes and leave us to it.

Sometimes there are fire drills, but they have no idea what we do, so it takes how long it takes.

Currently, I work about 5 hours a week. The rest of the time I sit in my cube thinking deep thoughts and answering questions on Metafilter. Once we get our new software, I'll be busier, but once mastered, it won't take that long.

Oh! When you make your LinkedIn profile, MeMail me your info and I'll be happy to connect with you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:34 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]

Psychology works fine; many market research people are trained there. Both marketing and psychology professors can point to what you might want to study -- there is relevant material throughout the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, economics, political science). Study topics in mathematical psychology: measurement theory, decision theory, multivariate methods (factor analysis, cluster analysis, etc.). Regression and discrete choice modeling. Data mining, exploratory data analysis, data graphics. You will also want to learn a general statistical program (e.g. SAS, SPSS, R, Stata, etc.). Learning continues on the job, but bringing a lot of this helps you get into a market research firm. Also, think about the sources and uses of various kinds of data related to customers and consumers in general: survey, behavioral, sales, database, media, web. Research firms, and their clients' marketing departments, vary widely in what they do.
posted by lathrop at 7:09 AM on June 13

Thanks guys, I really appreciate your advice and input!

Ruthless Bunny (love the name by the way!) I am in a bit of a bind in that I can't change my psychology major this late in the game or I will incur out of state tuition charges due to the fact that the hours I would need to take to get a Business, Marketing, or Economics degree would be over 120 hours (which anything beyond that is over the limit). I'm a little lost on how to find an internship, other than just searching for "market research analysis internships in Austin, Texas" (or some variation of that phrase) on Google. Do I need to already have experience in market research analysis before I can qualify for one? Or is the point of an internship that you learn the trade on the job? Or both? As for the marketing software, I'm sure I can just look up tutorials on the internet. That's how I taught myself Photoshop. And I will memail you as soon as I have LinkedIn up!

Lathrop, you say that "both marketing and psychology professors can point to what [I] might want to study". Sounds like a dumb question, but how do I go about getting that information from them? Do I just go up and say, "Professor X, I want to do market research analysis, could you please tell me the skills I need to learn to land a career?"

I will not be able to take classes in that wide range of topics that you listed, as again, the timer is ticking in terms of how many hours I have left. That being said, I want to learn them, if only to see if I can do it. If I can, that's further encouragement that market research analysis is right for me. If I can't, that may be a red flag. How do you recommend learning these skills? Should I get a Masters to learn it, or are there places on the internet where I can teach myself for free?
posted by ggp88 at 12:46 PM on June 13

You might try using Linked In to look for alumni from your school who work in a related area. Then you can ask them about internships. You might need to work unpaid first, unfortunately.
posted by maurreen at 8:22 PM on June 13

Yes, go to office hours of marketing faculty and explain your goal (try this with several -- they will vary in helpfulness). Especially the ones teaching market research. You do have a smart question. They can suggest ways to get started, and perhaps clarify the role of psychology. Look at all the books in the library about market research (but skip the academic journals). Perhaps find a good survey text on marketing (and pay attention to the role of research in it). Google "market research syllabus" for examples of what an intro class would be like, and names of textbooks. Unfortunately, most real-world documents like RFPs, proposals, and final reports will be confidential.
posted by lathrop at 9:06 PM on June 13

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