Career Clubs play a critical role in educating and guiding MBA students through their career search process. Nate McFarland (Darden, ’16) who is affectionately known by his classmates as “The Rockstar” was looking to make the transition from Music to Marketing, and ended up with a Associate Brand Manager Internship at Campbell’s Soup. After utilizing many of the resources provided by The Darden Marketing Club, Nate now serves as SVP and Treasurer, and took a few minutes to share with us his perspective on what makes a good marketer and how to best prepare for a marketing interview.
MBASchooled: Through your conversations with company representatives as an officer for the Marketing Club, what appear to be some of the top traits companies are looking for in candidates for Marketing roles?
Nate: As cliche as it sounds, marketing recruiters really do want to see a clear passion for marketing. This priority comes through in a host of interview questions around branding, ad campaigns, and product innovations. Among the usual suspects/functions in which MBAs often recruit, marketing is unique in its relentless focus on the consumer; companies want to see and hear this more than anything. Additional traits would be experience/comfort with data (lots of it), an ability to play really well with others, and experience working cross-functionally.
MBASchooled: As an officer in Darden’s Marketing Club, how does your club help first years navigate the internship search and recruiting process?
Nate: Education and Recruiting are definitely the club’s primary goals, and nearly all of our events are geared towards those two ends: education occurs through industry-related workshops (e.g. Brand Management 101), case competitions and our annual conference. Recruiting support consists of networking, cover letter, resume, technical/case interview prep, and mock interview workshops. We try to cover every major aspect of the marketing recruiting process, and the club’s board made some major improvements to programming this year which were well received.
MBASchooled: How did you leverage your school’s career center throughout the internship search process?
Nate: The career center was invaluable to my recruiting process in two main ways: first, in helping me translate a very non-traditional background (professional musician) into terms that marketing firms would understand and value; secondly, I mock-interviewed endlessly with them, and their feedback was, in my opinion, superior to any peer feedback I received. That’s a big part of their job and they’re damn good at it.
MBASchooled: What did you do in order to get up to speed on companies you interviewed with, and generally speaking, things related to the marketing roles you applied to?
MBASchooled: How did you know your company was the right company for you?
Nate: Campbell Soup has been involved with Darden for a while, and the members of their recruiting team came on grounds literally eight or nine times over the fall semester. This face-to-face time was helpful for both parties, I think, and I realized that they held a unique position of being the a “small” big CPG firm–big enough to play with the big boys but a bit more agile and nimble than some of their competitors. On top of that their culture seemed extremely down-to-earth and personable, and that resonated with me.
MBASchooled: What was a high and low point of your interview process?
- Low point: While co-leading a December job-trek to CPG firms in the Northeast, I forgot to factor travel time (to Campbell’s) into our travel schedule, and had to call our host/contact and explain why he needed to cut short the program/visit he had planned for us by two hours.
- High point: Getting the offer phone call! The ol’ one-round interview process is sweet.
MBASchooled: Knowing what you know now, what’s something that could have helped you navigate your internship recruiting process?
Nate: Case interviewing is not only a valuable skill for interviewing, but for generally employing your entire MBA toolkit/”muscles” in a rapid-fire environment. It’s one of those skills that is only built through repetition. While all my consulting-focused classmates worked their tails off on case interview prep throughout our first semester, I didn’t. I wish I had started earlier (to spread out the workload) and done more of it. I almost feel like every MBA, not just consultants, should walk out of business school with the ability to crush case interviews in their sleep. I’m still working on it…