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Drake business school puts marketing majors on track for professional success

January 11, 2011
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Chip Miller, professor of marketing

Not all marketing majors share the same career goals. Some want to enter the field from the market research angle, using quantitative data to learn what will compel a consumer. Others aim to land a spot on a brand management team, or jump into the new wave of interactive marketing.

In keeping with the College of Business and Public Administration's mission to graduate students proficient in their fields, the CBPA will launch five specific emphasis area tracks within the marketing major:

*    Integrated marketing communications

*    Direct and interactive marketing

*    Marketing management

*    Sales and sales management

*    Market research.

"The information we get from businesses and the media indicates that employers are looking for people who are more specialized," said Chip Miller, professor of marketing. "Our curriculum over the years has been more geared toward a multipurpose marketing major. Separate tracks provide a greater emphasis in sub areas."

Miller said students will continue to gain a strong marketing background by taking the same core courses, but that supplemental classes within tracks will help focus their choice of electives. Track requirements will be finalized for the spring semester and officially launch with the fall 2011 course catalog.

The number of hours required to graduate with the major will increase to 21 marketing credits, up from 18. Many track requirements overlap, so it's possible for students to pursue two different tracks simultaneously.

"Right now, students take scattershot electives in marketing," Miller said. "We're trying to help them gain more emphasis so when they come out and graduate they can present a more targeted portfolio."

The new tracks group classes together in a way that reflects how the industry functions and soften the learning curve for students whose first jobs are in, say, sales or as part of a public relations team.

"We decided to put together a cluster of courses designed to support that career track for them," Miller said. "We've organized a group of classes that tie together and represent the functions of various marketing units within a company."

Natalie Adkins, assistant professor of marketing, was instrumental in expanding the course offerings. Students in her Direct & Interactive Marketing course participate in the annual Direct Marketing Educational Foundation Collegiate Echo Competition, which requires them to prepare a complete, integrated marketing communications plan including elements of direct and interactive marketing for a sponsoring client.

A group of students from her fall 2009 class placed second in the national competition with a pitch they created for Microsoft's Bing search engine.

"I am a strong proponent of engaged learning environments and, therefore, I frequently incorporate service-learning based activities and/or projects into my classes," Adkins said. "Because of my direct marketing background and interests, I often assign projects requiring that students demonstrate a broad, strategic understanding of an organization and a marketing proposal involving direct marketing tools."