Up next in our #GraduateStories series, we have a Graduate Story from Laila Machado Crivelari who is currently working as a marketing executive for Centrus, a leading independent financial services group. Laila graduated from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2014 with a Bachelors degree in Social Communications. Since then she has undertaken several further courses to enhance her knowledge of marketing including business courses in New York and London. Over the past five years, Laila has gained work experience in corporate and internal communications; advertising, branding and strategic planning of marketing campaigns for the financial services sector. We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to ask Laila some questions about her marketing journey so far:
How did you get into marketing in the first place?
As a teenager, I always liked to observe and criticise the ads on the TV, newspapers and magazines. I used to learn the jingles and create parallel versions with my friends for fun, but I never saw this as a possible career. It was just for fun! Closer to my graduation, I was very confused about which career path to pursue because I knew I liked Human Sciences but I didn’t know which one would allow me to write, be creative, be a strategist and also require me to know a bit of everything. I then sought help with my school’s vocational psychologist, and she helped me map out my interests and abilities, and the Corporate Communications career came out as the best match, even though it was a profession I hadn’t heard much about during college. But I decided to trust the results and applied for this course at a public University in Sao Paulo, and I passed! During the course, I had lessons on photography, design, art history, communications theories, philosophy, and marketing strategy. I loved the combination of lessons and how broad they were, but the marketing lessons were my favourite as they were closer to the market reality and we had to draft business and communications plans to solve hypothetical problems for real companies. I felt that that was where I wanted to concentrate my studies and search for jobs that emphasised marketing strategy and branding activities.
So that’s how I searched for and found my first marketing internship.
Did your university degree/experience help you when it came to your first marketing job?
Yes, very much. The fact that the lessons were broad and the marketing professor encouraged us to develop practical marketing plans and tactics made me feel like I was working with that already and that I had talent on this matter. We usually debated real-life case studies and solutions so the connection between university and job market was closer. I also felt that the marketing career was a very promising one, with possibilities of reaching high levels within organisations, opportunities to travel abroad and many courses, MBA and post-graduate programs available in the market.
How did you identify which area of marketing you wanted to get into?
After landing on my first internship on a large retail and investment bank in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I was exposed to many projects around brand strategy, market positioning and advertising campaigns that didn’t sell products but sold ideas and beliefs. I worked with very experienced marketers that gave me the opportunity to put into practice what I learned at uni in terms of how companies can better communicate their messages via authenticity, by listening to the customer and speaking in their languages, being tuned in to what’s relevant to them and insert the company into these conversations. I was lucky that I loved all these projects and felt confident that this was the career I wanted to pursue. More importantly though is to notice that this “division” of marketing into areas are in decline, and marketing teams are now more multidisciplinary and this division only happens in very large organisations. Graduates are able to be exposed to many disciplines in small to medium organisations and then choose which one they identify with most.
Is there anything you’d have done differently starting out in your career?
I guess I would have considered an experience outside the corporate space to learn what is like to be in a communications or advertising agency, because these are very frequently the #1 external partners of the marketing professionals that work for companies in-house. A creative, a planner or even a relationship manager from an advertising agency has a very different work place scenario, with more flexibility in some matters (like time to come in and leave, work from home, access to video producers, photographers etc on a daily basis) and some other restrictions or rather downsides (like long hours, working during weekends, short deadlines, high pressure) that the corporate marketers are not very exposed to and it would be useful to know more about what’s like outside the corporate workplace.
I liked the role I was in very much and it got promoted to a permanent marketing role so I didn’t want to risk the path I was following (and that I enjoyed) to try something new that could turn out not to be my thing.
What advice do you have for graduates looking to get into marketing?
This is a very exciting and vast area to work with, with many, many possibilities of career paths depending on your talents, preferences and objectives. You have to always keep on learning, like to write and read a lot. You can (you should!) have lots of fun too as your creativity and problem solving skills will be valued and necessary in anything that you do.
What advice would you give graduates who are currently searching for their first marketing job?
- To be very open minded about job descriptions in the beginning and try and learn the most you can.
- If you’re not sure which area you want at first, try to think of brands you admire, think of what they are doing now in the communications space and if you’d see yourself working in that industry. For instance if you like the make-up and beauty industry, try and rank up the brands you like the most and try to define why you like them, if you remember recent campaigns and why you think they are good. Then visit their websites to learn more about them, register your CV, follow them on LinkedIn and watch their YouTube videos. Regardless of your experience, a good candidate will always make an effort to learn about the brand, the company and be able to explain what they like about it.
- During your internship, ask your manager to give you feedback frequently and to expose you to different kinds of projects, from media relations to advertising, internal communications (engaging employees), events, online campaigns, social media - the list is vast. Try and get the most exposure you can to different subjects and give your best in each one. You will naturally feel which one of these excite you the most and make you feel accomplished.
We've got plenty more graduate stories where this one came from so check them out and be inspired!