An Unexpected Internship in Marketing

By Paul Van Peursem, Career Services Ambassador 

Accepting a summer internship in Marketing and Business Development at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, an accounting firm, felt weird. Since I’m an economics major, should I not be doing an accounting internship? This was the question everyone was asking me. I had no idea what the summer would hold; however, to my surprise, I not only used my economics knowledge, I also expanded my research and networking skills.

When one thinks about marketing, the first thing that comes to mind is consumer products – like popular drinks, food products, clothing lines. So how does marketing accounting services compare?

There are many similarities – like market research, analyzing data or trends and creating marketing materials. However, because this is a largely services-focused industry, the marketing department is primarily business development. So the main goal is expanding  clientele, which meant I did lots of research on how best to expand the geographical footprint and figuring out what service-line expansion would attract more business.

Business development also entails networking and lots of professional interaction. So, besides getting to produce reports and research, I had the opportunity to get face-to-face time with tax and marketing professionals. Even during the research process, I interacted with professionals within the firm – including the strategic planning committee, which used several of my reports. The job also allowed me to start out really general and help with marketing within several industries. However, I learned that after you’ve found your niche, you can choose a specific area of interest and really become invested in that sector and working with the clients in it.

What did I learn from this unexpected internship? If you ever hope to run your own business or hold a high-up position within a company, you’re going to need strong business development skills – i.e. the ability to sell your company and its services. Also, you can build a wide array of skills – research, quantitative analysis, communication, presentation, and networking. All this to say that, marketing internships can provide extremely relevant experience for those looking to enter the business world.

Paul’s internship with Dixon Hughes Goodman was made available through Davidson’s 100 Internship Challenge.  

Using Twitter in the Communications Job Search

Are you interested in pursuing a career in communications?  Start tweeting!

A recent study indicates that 76 percent of American and Canadian communications professionals use Twitter daily, compared to 32 percent of the general public.  Twitter usage among these professionals has grown by 100% over the past two years.

If you are interested in a communications-related career–whether in marketing, advertising, corporate communications, nonprofit fundraising, or a host of other fields–we recommend using Twitter to network and learn from this growing network of professionals.

To get started, sign up for a Twitter account if you don’t already have one.  Do a search for “communications,” “public relations,” or other areas of interest.  Twitter will pull up “people results” on the right sidebar: typically industry experts who already have large followings.  These results will give you a place to start.  Once you find individuals of interest, see who they are following to get more ideas.  You should also follow the Twitter accounts of your favorite publications and news organizations.

There are some Twitter accounts devoted to informing the public about communications jobs:  follow @nyprjobs, for example, and get updates about PR job openings in New York City.  However, note that those who have the most success using Twitter as a networking tool actively tweet themselves, rather than simply following others of interest to them.  You want to build your knowledge base to the point that you are comfortable actively contributing to the professional community.  For example, if you run across an interesting article or statistic about your communications field of interest, you can tweet a link to it with a brief line of commentary.  This June 2011 U.S. News and World Report article  focuses on how to use Twitter effectively to change careers, but it also has some great advice for anyone looking to build a strong brand on Twitter by sharing expertise and resources.

Still skeptical?  Take a look at this blog post by Kelly Giles, UNC alum and Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing at a company called Optimal Resume.  I met Kelly at a recent conference, where she shared that by being an “active and authentic” blogger and Twitter user, she ended up with a fantastic job.  It’s a testament to the potential power of “140 characters or less”!