Every year, hundreds of fresh graduates enter the highly competitive marketing field. Sherry Yeung was once one of them.
Now a senior corporate marketing manager for Samsung Electronics Hong Kong, Ms Yeung notes her choice of career was the result of a well-paced plan.
Ms Yeung spent a summer in Hong Kong working for Cathay Pacific as an intern prior to her final year of university studies in Canada.
"My responsibilities as a summer intern included an internal staff learning assignment. After the summer, I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in the marketing profession so I only applied for marketing jobs after graduation," Ms Yeung remarks, saying young people should try to identify their career goals and interests early on and keep a keen focus only on these.
She encourages university students to gain work experience as a way to explore their interests before entering the workplace full time. Her first step into the employment market was as an associate account executive with a top international advertising agency. She spent eight years building up her business acumen and worked her way up to the position of account director before leaving for marketing positions in other companies.
She stresses that company loyalty and a commitment to the job are essential. "Taking a long-term view gives you the time and opportunity to adapt to the corporate culture and the industry. This also gives your supervisors ample time to observe your performance and talents," she says. "Some young people these days are not focused or motivated enough and there is a tendency to keep changing jobs. Instead of building a career, they may only be taking up a job. This kind of attitude affects long-term career prospects because future employers will question every career move in detail."
Despite not having formal academic training in advertising and marketing, Ms Yeung picked up a wealth of practical skills and knowledge in her first job. "The agency served large clients, giving me the chance to work on major projects and expand my horizon," she explains. "In addition, I was privileged enough to work with some experienced supervisors who were willing to furnish me with opportunities and trained me to perceive everyday issues from a marketing angle."
"Market yourself just as you would a product"
Opportunities and rewards
Marketing is a long-term and comprehensive effort and job satisfaction comes from performing well while executing various types of marketing projects, Ms Yeung stresses.
She reflects that this year has been particularly rewarding, as she has had the chance to organise a number of activities related to the Olympic Games, including the in-house Olympics-themed annual dinner and a media gathering.
She experienced the most satisfaction from her involvement in the public activities related to the Olympics, such as the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong's 2008 Olympic Day Run. Samsung was the sole sponsor of this event, which promoted healthier lifestyles and gave Hong Kong people the opportunity to show their support for local athletes participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Samsung also nominated eight Hong Kong torchbearers, including a sports star, celebrities, company representatives and business partners to partake in the Olympic torch relay. For Ms Yeung, these projects took her beyond professional satisfaction to a more meaningful experience. She notes that Samsung and the Olympic Games have a similar mission to bring people from all over the world together, and the Olympic spirit echoes Samsung's philosophy to overcome all challenges in the quest for excellence. "Passion played a central role in the success of these events," she says.
Since part of Ms Yeung's duties is to handle staff hiring and planning assignments for her team, she has learnt through experience that it is commitment and passion which make candidates stand out.
Her advice to graduates and young jobseekers interested in marketing as a career is to show their commitment to the industry and the companies that they approach, and to demonstrate a positive attitude and target-oriented mindset during job interviews.
"Do some research before your interview so that you understand the company you are applying to. Be well prepared and sure that you like the products and services that you are going to market. Imagine the interview as an opportunity to market yourself just as you would a product," she concludes.