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What to Study for a Career in Marketing

Marketing is the lifeblood of just about every business and nonprofit in the world. And while there are endless roads that could lead to a career in marketing, you might be surprised to learn how varied they can be.

Great marketing agencies bring together teams of unlikely suspects to create bigger, better, broader think tanks. There’s a big difference between what you learn in school and what a real career looks like. We know. We’ve been there.

The 3i team is special not because we’re all marketing savants, but because of the variety of educational and experiential strengths that we bring to the table. From diverse backgrounds, colleges and extracurricular activities to different life experiences, hobbies and interests, we’re able to draw on a breadth of knowledge, combined with business specialties like PR, design and advertising. 

If you’re interested in a career in marketing, yes, there is relevant coursework, a solid skillset and knowledge base that are important, and a college degree. But every professional path looks different. And so does every career! Use any opportunity to start creating your own, even if you’re not sure where it may lead.

Here are the paths our creative team took to get where they are today. 

Kate Lollar

Marketing Strategist

BA, Psychology (Minor: Biology)

University of Mississippi

Like many college students, I didn’t start out with the same major I graduated with. Fortunately, I settled on Psychology, which I’ve found to be the most valuable marketing education of them all. Using a psych degree does not mean you must go to grad school, or work in HR or mental health! I worked in video games and entertainment for 15 years before moving to the do-gooder space. In any industry, understanding how people think is the foundation of identifying an audience and developing a marketing strategy. 

Things I learned in sociology and developmental/juvenile psychology classes are useful for understanding many clients’ focus. The statistics, research and data analysis I learned as part of my major are also important for day-to-day work - especially in advertising. And because Psychology was in the Liberal Arts department, my coursework also included creative writing classes like poetry, journalism classes and English history. Grammar is huge in copywriting, so my background in writing is a really great complement to my expertise in psychology. 

Kenneth Worles

President & Creative Director

BA, Mass Communication (Advertising) (Minor: Marketing & Organizational Communications)

Middle Tennessee State University

A lot of what I do today is because of the experiences I had during my college years. While I didn’t take any classes in graphic design, I did spend tons of hours using the free design software that came with the campus library. This free software allowed me to grow as a freelance designer for campus event marketing. While my classes on the foundation of advertising were super important, my leadership in campus organizations and internships prepared me to lead one of the coolest businesses in the state of Tennessee.

Andria Patterson

Graphic Designer

BA, Computer Information Systems (Minor: Business)

UT Martin/Middle Tennessee State University

School helped shape me into the person that I am today, however the most important part of it all was my experience throughout college. I didn’t pursue any classes that revolve around graphic design, but with the support of the community and the people around me, I saw a passion that could potentially turn into a career. I was able to create flyers for fashion shows and other events happening at my school and it branched out to businesses and nonprofits around the area. 

Through the different clients, I’ve learned from my mistakes and grown to become a self-taught designer. I'm always learning!

Brianna Smith-Herman

Account Manager

BA, Mass Media Arts (Radio/TV/Film) (Minor: Public Relations)

Clark Atlanta University

I originally started my matriculation at the Clark Atlanta University as a Speech/Communication Theater Arts major, with the hopes of becoming a talk show host, actress or motivational speaker. I grew up spending a lot of time watching Oprah Winfrey with my grandmother, and a Media Entrepreneur is what I knew I had a passion and interest to do. However, after my freshman year of college and speaking with my advisor, I learned more about the Mass Media program and decided it piqued my interests more and allowed me to be heavily enriched in media, opposed to theater and the dramatics. I was able to learn about the ins and outs of Radio, TV, and Film; from how things are brainstormed and created to how they’re displayed to the masses. The Department provided me with hands-on academic and professional training that was complemented by a strong liberal arts education. The curriculum prepared me for entertainment, politics, ethics, personnel management, advertising, education, business, public relations, public service, speech arts, social media management, content curation, digital filmmaking, and civil service; all which I utilize in my Account Management Role. 

I took advantage of the many internships and film opportunities that CAU and Atlanta offered. I was an underwriter for Jazz WCLK, I worked on the sets of Real Housewives of ATL, Cutting it in the ATL, and numerous music artists. I wrote, starred in and directed 3 films that are still currently on Youtube. I also interned for Atlantic Records artists K. Michelle. I recently embarked on my own media publication, called Memphis 10 Magazine, which highlights the best in black of Memphis’ arts and culture.  I have utilized my expertise to accomplish many of these goals.

Kaila Matthews

Operations Manager

BA, Business Administration (Accounting) (Minor: Spanish & Criminal Justice)

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

MS, Higher Education (Administration & Leadership)

Capella University

College was my opportunity to take advantage of opportunities like leadership roles in various clubs and organizations, being a college ambassador, and being a student athlete. My college experience looked different than my peers because I was an independent student and worked full-time. I managed to have a full load of classes and be very active on campus. I was comfortable with being resourceful and practicing time management to juggle all my responsibilities well so the real world did not catch me off guard. My various studies and experiences put me in rooms that continued to show me how important it is to be authentic to yourself and pull from every experience to stand out. I leveraged my passion for leadership and interest in foreign languages to ultimately study abroad and create programs and initiatives that lived beyond me at my school. I’m still creating a better tomorrow in adulthood as a creative sidekick at 3i and I’m sure younger me is proud.  

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