Life as a Marketing Graduate: Part 1 – Over-achieving in the wrong direction

by Marketing Lowdown on May 1, 2011

A marketing graduate position is like starting a new job with every rotation. Depending on the program, whether it’s with an FMCG (fast moving consumer goods company) or not, you will be faced with different managerial styles that you will need to adjust to.

So the question is, how do you want to come across in your company? Where do you fit in within your team? I think the main objective as a graduate is to learn as much practical skills as you can on the job. The best way to do this is simply…act cluey. So what do I mean by this approach? Well I personally learnt about this mentality the hard way. I started my marketing graduate role wanting to over-achieve, to exceed expectations and come up with bright ideas to prove that I could actively contribute and bring value to the team. Now this approach may sound like it’s heading in the right direction, but as a marketing grad, it’s not advisable.

Being a marketing grad is like learning to drive a car. You are the learner driver guided by an instructor who teaches you how to safely perform manoeuvres like three-point-turns and reverse parking. Your role is to listen, follow and understand directions, and clarify with questions. By following the mentality of being proactive and wanting to over-achieve, you run the risk of completing new tasks at the expense of what was originally asked of you. You also face the risk of being a ‘know it all’ which is not a good position to be in. Here is an example using our learner driving analogy – in your one hour driving lesson you may decide to work on your parallel parking, reverse parking and 45-degree parking, whereas your instructor has mentioned that only reverse parking will be tested. Using this example, reverse parking should be your focus as it will ultimately deliver your main priority to pass your driving test. This relates to competing project priorities in each marketing graduate rotation that you encounter. By being proactive and seeking out new projects that you think will help the team, you need to ensure that you stay on top of your original projects which can be hard in any fast paced marketing environment.

At the end of the day, there is only so many hours in the working day and as a marketing grad you need to follow directions, whether you agree with them or not. Instead of creating new projects for yourself, try to improve the results that were originally asked of you – exceed expectations in assigned projects, rather than going off track into new territory. In order to do this, you will need to ask a lot of questions and not assume that you know what the best results are. Be curious, act cluey and then make suggestions or recommendations rather than the other way round. This will show that you are an active listener, keen to deliver the results asked of you and that you value your manager or supervisor’s help.

Let your manager help you first, before you begin to help.


Written by: Natalie Waser (Marketing Industry Specialist here at Marketing Lowdown!)

Natalie is engrossed by marketing at all levels – from critiquing television ads, to assessing in-store promotions to debating PR stunts.

Before commencing her Marketing Graduate role with Kimberly-Clark, the fast moving consumer goods company who invented Kleenex and Huggies brands, she completed various internships in PR, digital media and market research. She is driven by her imagination to test marketing norms and create new brand experiences.

On Marketing Lowdown, Natalie reflects on her experience as a marketing grad to bring you helpful tips to make your transition from university student to full-time worker all that little bit easier.

University: University of Sydney, Sydney
Degree: Bachelor of Economics and Social Science (Marketing and Industrial Relations and Human Resources)
Graduated: April 2011
Works as: Consumer Marketing Graduate at Kimberly-Clark Australia
Can be found on: LinkedIn

You can also read about Natalie on our ‘Meet the Team’ page!


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  • Louise Griffiths

    Natalie you are so right! Having worked in a workplace that had interns and grads come through frequently there is nothing worse than a show-off who not only does everything you don’t want them to do but doesn’t even do what you ask of them because they deemed it unimportant. Once you get into the swing of things more and your job because more day to day that’s when you understand what ideas are worth pursuing until then interns and grads are best just learning as much as they can!

    Good Post Nat!

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