Final-year Marketing student Worries
October 6, 2013 12:04 PM   Subscribe

I am fourth-year student, soon graduating with a Marketing Management (BComm) degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. This University doesn't exactly have an amazing reputation, especially for its Business Management program...It isn't bad, but it isn't great. I think the institution is good and I enjoyed (for the most part) my years here. I'll probably be graduating with a 3.5 GPA. Tell me mefites, how can I improve my chances for meaningful, successful employment when I'm graduating from a university with a lame reputation, a less-than-amazing GPA?

I am fourth-year student, soon graduating with a Marketing Management (BComm, marketing major) degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. This University doesn't exactly have an amazing reputation, especially for its Business Management program. I think the institution is good and I enjoyed (for the most part) my years here. I'm finishing my degree in less than 7 months and I'll probably be graduating with a 3.5 GPA.

I wish I'd done better in high school and my first year at university, but I was going through some stuff (think drug addiction, mental health issues and destructive relationships). I'm doing way better now, a real 180 (though, I must admit, there's a some way to go) and feel extremely confident in my abilities to become a master in my field. I read everything I can get my hands on in my field, I participate in all lectures/events I can, I try to constantly improve my skills by learning from everyone. I really believe I can do very well in marketing.

My professors all know me and many would love to give me a fantastic reference. I have marketable skills, have decent past experience (was an on-campus brand ambassador for an excellent corporation and performed really well, have experience in event management and promotion, volunteer my social media initiatives for non-profit organizations, have a small but loyal YouTube following, got excellent grades in my semester abroad in 10 marketing courses). I want to get my career going! I want to make myself proud, make a great living, kickstart my life, move out ASAP. I'm willing to do anything.

What are your best tips about starting a fantastic career when I'm graduating from a university with a less-than-stellar reputation, with alright grades? I'm willing to work incredibly hard and push myself to the limit. I'm prepared to do anything with these last 7 months til I graduate to make up for my university, my grades, my past.

Please help!
posted by rhythm_queen to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you might benefit from some work with a counsellor to help you get a more realistic view of your grades. Your grades are excellent. You have super work experience and you've overcome some challenging issues. My graduating GPA was only slightly better and I got a great job within a year of graduation. And, after that, no one will ever ask you for your grades again.

Lots of employers do not want to hire people with high grades. I have actually had employers who told me they generally don't hire anyone with more than a 3.33, although I somehow got hired anyway. They preferred to hire people with work and life experience - resilience, a range of skills, good social capabilities, an understanding of the world.

I don't know about your university, but, in my part of the world, there are curves and rules about assigned grades. So, if you are averaging a 3.5 GPA, you must be in the top 15-30% of all your classes and perhaps even better if you had a rough time earlier on. I know people who went through with 2.0 GPAs who have gone on to become university instructors, MBAs, consultants and even lawyers and doctors. You can recover from pretty much anything.

Ryerson is well known for practical skills. If you really find it's holding you back, go do an MBA later on. But, for now, just concentrate on getting work experience...preferably the paying kind.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:12 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Realistically, your grades are fine, your school is fine, and the greatest challenge you'll face is that marketing jobs are hard to get, and don't pay well. So stop looking at needing to "correct" something you've done, and instead look at what skills to build to make you more marketable (pardon the pun) on the job market in this field.

Is that data and quant skills? Graphic design skills? Don't know - all depends on what you want to do with the first 5-10 years of your career. But the sooner you figure it out, the better chance you'll have.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2013

Some technical skills to put you ahead of the pack:

- Adobe InDesign and Photoshop
- MS Access to show you have database skills
- HTML and CSS skills to update websites

Join up some business associations like IABC and CPRS to volunteer to get your name out there.
posted by saturdaymornings at 12:45 PM on October 6, 2013

Bottom line - no one really cares about anything other than the degree. They'll look at your transcripts right now, sure, because you don't have much else work-wise for them to look at. In five years, no one will even glance at your transcripts. In 10 years, your alma mater will be all that matters (and even that, not that much) as a way of establishing relationships and connecting with your peers and possible bosses.

What you really need right now is a job. So that when you're looking for full-time work, you actually have a job to reference in the resume.
posted by arnicae at 12:47 PM on October 6, 2013

Aggressively networking in the specific area you want to get a job in is time well spent at this stage. Your grades and University are fine, don't focus on those things right now - they matter far less than you think.

Maybe your professors have contacts in the field and could get some introductions for you? Same with family friends, contacts from when you were a brand ambassador, alumni organizations, etc. Your grades and school won't hold you back, but getting off on the wrong foot or being passive about getting your career started will. Networking is key when it comes to opening more doors.

The advice to learn some additional programs is good. It'll give your resume an edge to have those skills.
posted by quince at 1:13 PM on October 6, 2013

It doesn't always matter where you come from or how well you did there - it's more about who you know and how much you believe in yourself. Push those connections and don't think any more dark thoughts about your school's reputation or how your grades could have been better. You've got this. BREATHE FIRE!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2013

GPA will wilt under the white hot glare of experience. If you want the best chance of getting a job, get all the experience you can, now. Always think, "what will be put me apart from the thousands of other graduates coming out of universities with degrees this year?" - I can tell you, it ain't the degree, or the GPA.

If you can demonstrate you've done grad-level work with large companies, you will be so attractive as a hire. Honestly, institution and GPA, there are so few recruiters in marketing who would give a shit about that. You will beat someone from a prestigious university and a 4.0 GPA at least three times out of five - or more - if you have solid experience that goes beyond being the president of the volleyball club or whatever (ie relevant experience).

You sound like you're in a pretty great place, just keep on keeping on. Also, if there's professional networking groups, start joining em and attending. Think laterally - there may not be a professional marketing group, but there are many 'women working in the corporate world' groups. These are great places to meet potential mentors and other professionals. Best of luck!
posted by smoke at 3:46 PM on October 6, 2013

I appreciate everyone's responses very much. Thanks for the encouragement. Certainly will look for relevant work experience.

@ Chaussette and the Pussycats, I gotta ask--does it make sense doing an MBA when I just finished my BComm? Also, is it a MUST to do it in a fantastic school? (Schulich, Ivy, whatever) I hear an MBA is useless if you already have a business degree and even more useless if you get it at some average school. How right/wrong am I?
posted by rhythm_queen at 5:19 PM on October 6, 2013

What exactly do you want to do? Marketing is a competitive field and there are a lot of technical skills and digital marketing stuff that you may or may not learn in school - Adobe Creative Suite, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, etc. If they aren't going to teach you in school, you should teach yourself. Also if you can get an internship in marketing, do that to get some relevant experience. Also you can volunteer to do marketing-related activities - manage the Facebook page for a student group, write blog articles for a non-profit, etc.

I don't know about Canada, but in the US most companies don't care that much about where you went to school. I recently hired for an entry-level position, and I didn't ask about grades or require a transcript or anything. The only time I took note of their university was if it was really big-name or looked like an online diploma mill, or otherwise stood out in a bad or good way.

I personally did a coordinate program where I went right into my MBA after undergrad and I don't recommend it. You need real-world experience to really get the most of your MBA.
posted by radioamy at 9:15 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

See pm.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:03 PM on October 10, 2013

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