Do you enjoy working with people? Are you outgoing? If so, marketing and sales careers provide wide-ranging options

Hot jobs in marketing and sales: do you enjoy working with people? Are you outgoing? If so, marketing and sales careers provide wide-ranging options

Mark Rowh

Think about all the choices you have when you want to buy a product or select a service. How do you know just what is available? And more importantly, which is the best choice?

The answers to questions like these form the basis of some exciting career options. Marketing and sales professionals inform potential customers about the products or services offered by their organizations. In the process, they can earn significant rewards.

“There is great potential in sales,” says Kevin Lister, a sales executive for Mindbridge Software. “You are truly paid what you are worth, and you make as much money as you put the effort in to achieve.”

Of course, any career must be about more than just money to be truly enjoyable, and marketing and sales also offer great potential for job satisfaction. “It’s hard work, but marketing and sales can provide some of the most satisfying careers,” says Maura Schreier-Fleming, author of Real-World Selling: For Out-of-This-World Results and head of her own sales consulting firm. “When it’s done right, you are truly making a difference in people’s businesses and lives.”

Plenty of Variety

A real plus is the variety that jobs in this field can offer. “No [two days] will ever be the same in marketing or sales,” says Lisa Mixon, marketing coordinator for Harcum College. “There is very little room for boredom. One day you will be coordinating a meeting or writing ad copy, and the next, working the phone to set up another meeting, or traveling to sign a deal.”

Insiders also note that marketing and sales professionals seldom find themselves tied down in a job they don’t like. Instead, they enjoy good prospects for advancing to higher-level jobs or moving to other positions.

“In sales, you can manage others, or travel extensively, or work with other companies,” Mixon says. “In marketing, you can do promotions, event planning, Web design, graphics, and much more.” She adds that “Most businesses need marketing and salespeople, which leaves open the possibility of working for any type of company you want to.”

Mixon says that she has worked at colleges as well as for a sports team, and had great experiences at each. Her own experience shows that the range of job possibilities in this field can be very broad.

Jeff Jackson worked part-time as a telemarketer in high school and then earned a college degree with a major in marketing communications. He says that a career in marketing and sales offers unique opportunities. He serves as manager of marketing communications for InStep Software.

“This field allows a person to perfect a skill and use that skill in a number of different industries,” Jackson says. “For example, the software company I work for recently hired a salesman who had previously sold commercial pizza makers. He had a brief transition and learning period, and has now achieved success using his sales skills applied to a completely different industry.”

Keys to Success

What does it take to succeed in marketing or sales? Mixon says that anyone who is interested in this field should like to work with people.

“In marketing and sales, you are constantly on the phone talking to people you have never met before, and meeting and negotiating with all different types of people,” she says. “Neither is it for the shy or timid. You need the ability to talk to anyone, and to communicate in a positive manner.”

Jackson also notes that good “people skills” are a must. “The most important asset of a professional in sales or marketing is an outgoing personality,” he says. “A person in this position should be good with people, often a born leader type who is not discouraged by failure. This person should be self-motivated and should have a general understanding of human nature and psychology.”

A college degree is not an absolute requirement for many jobs in sales and marketing, but many professionals recommend it. Typical majors include marketing, business administration, and public relations. Majors in technical fields can also lead to sales careers in specialized areas such as computing, engineering, or biotechnology.

How to Start

When you’re in high school, a good first step is to “shadow” a marketing or sales pro for a day and see what the job involves, according to Mixon. “Based on your experience, you can see whether it is a job you would be comfortable doing later in your life,” she says.

Mixon also recommends getting some related experience while in college. “Once you are in college, get an internship,” she says. “Even if it is unpaid, it is job experience that you can put on your resume that companies will consider. I scored one of my internships after shadowing someone in that department for a day, the other just because I called up and asked them if they needed interns.” Part-time or summer jobs can also be valuable. “Get a job where selling is a skill you need to use frequently,” Jackson says. “It could be as a retail clerk in a clothing store.”

Ideally, a sales or marketing job should dovetail with your own interests. “If you’re considering a sales career, think about the things you enjoy,” says Schreier-Fleming. “If you love cars, consider selling components or some area of technical sales. If you love clothes, you may try fashion industry sales as a career.” (See “If the Career Fits … Wear It!” on page 25.)

Jackson adds that it’s OK to experiment to find out just where you fit best. “The hardest part of getting started is figuring out what you are really good at, and fine-tuning the other parts of your skill set,” he says. “The best way to figure this out is through practice and dealing with people on a regular basis, always taking notice of details.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Young and capable.

Monica Perkins is a 23-year-old national sales manager at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City, Michigan. She became interested in sales while earning a bachelor’s degree in communication at Michigan State University and j interning for a public relations firm. Shortly after graduation, she landed a job in the conference sales department at the resort.

Within a year she was promoted to her current position, one which she relishes. “I have been able to travel throughout the country,” she says.” It’s been fun meeting great people and putting together spectacular events!”

She also enjoys the specific demands of her job.” Being in the hospitality industry allows for a different approach to sales,” she says. “It really is a mix of marketing, advertising, PR, and sales all rolled into one.” Perkins says that the work in public relations helped prepare her for her present role.” That allowed me to have a greater understanding of the sales process,” she says. “It helped me learn about garnering new business and bringing a new flair to sales.”

Monica advises high school students interested in sales or marketing to pick up some job experience. “Get as much experience as you can as soon as you can,” Perkins says.” Internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work are all very important in today’s job market.”

She notes that employers tend to look for new employees who can start quickly in a new position. They should already have some understanding of the field in which they will be working. “It may be frustrating working as an unpaid intern or entry-level employee,” she says.” But it will pay off to do that when you are young, rather than when you are ready to start your career.”

Hot Jobs in Marketing and Sales

Students will become familiar with job opportunities in marketing and sales. Career Cluster: Marketing, Sales & Service.


* What is the purpose of marketing and sales? (to inform potential customers about an organization’s products or services and to sell the products to the customer)

* What are some of the pluses of jobs in marketing and sales? (The pluses include pay commensurate with effort, job satisfaction, variety, and abundant job opportunities.)

* What personal qualities and abilities are most important for people in marketing and sales? Explain.

* What interests you about a job in marketing or sales, and what do you dislike?


1. Observe commercials for a new product, and discuss the marketing and sales professionals who would be involved in launching the product (e.g., advertising copywriter, producer, director, client liaison, event planner, sales manager, marketing director, sales associate). What would the role of each be? 2. Review with the class ways to enter the marketing or sales field, and have students suggest some examples of each of these methods:

a) Internship

b) Volunteering

c) Part-time or summer job

d) Mentor

3. Ask students to consider whether they would enjoy a career in sales. What would they like to sell? Why?

4. Inquire about what students would like to know regarding marketing and sales jobs. Then have them use these questions to interview someone in the field.

5. Have students list any sales experiences they could get through school or community activities (e.g., magazine drives, bake sales, ticket sales, yearbook sales, advertising sales). Ask what they have learned from participating in such activities.

6. Guide students to identify strategies that work in sales by recalling good salespeople they have encountered and considering how people can be influenced. Challenge them to analyze the value of testimonials, logic, emotional appeals, comparisons, personal experience, persistence, and people skills.

7. Have students pair off to “sell” one of the following:

a) Tickets to a school play

b) Membership in the school pep club

c) A handheld personal assistant

d) A bushel of grapefruit

e) A used bike

teacher sales

“Sales,” video, $49; “Marketing and Sales,” video, $99.95; Jaguar Educational, (877) JAG-8200. “Selling,” video, $69.95; Cambridge Educational, (800) 468-4227.

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