What do you want to be when you grow up?
If I reflect on a 10-year-old me answering this question, how would I have answer it? A police officer, yes. A pilot, yes. A doctor, maybe. A footballer, YES!
Market researcher? No.
If I’m being perfectly honest, even up the point of making my university choices, market research as a career didn’t even register with me. It was only during my Business and Marketing degree that I started to dabble with anything market research related; a research methods module in my first year, some customer exit interviews at Frankie & Benny’s as part of my second-year marketing coursework and then some telephone depth interviews for my final year dissertation.
So, with no passionate desire to work in market research and no formal training, what made this the right career choice for me? Probably the same reasons as 99% of my peers….
Not everyone falls into their first-choice career path:
Many researchers enter the profession after taking a sideward step from their initial career path. People enter the industry after falling out of love with teaching, wanting to use their psychology skills outside of the laboratory or want to get closer to the end customer than a marketing role can offer.
There are a whole host of transferable skills from other careers that are well suited to the demands and challenges of the market research world. Demonstrating that you can and have interacted with people in a professional environment, you have the desire to understand customer behaviour and you can effectively communicate and listen are the ideal credentials for someone wanting to embark on a career in market research.
Attitude is just as important as aptitude:
Researchers are not lawyers or accountants, so technical knowledge is not always a pre-requisite for the job. What is vital is that you have the spark, the energy and the appetite to want to take on the variety of challenges that our clients pose to us on a daily basis and develop your toolkit in how best to answer them.
Opportunity to work on the ‘business world’:
The common default for a business related degree graduate (like I was back in 2005) is to want to work in the glamorous marketing or advertising world. After looking at options open to me upon graduation, market research as a career seemed to tick all the boxes. It would put me in the position of advising client-side marketing teams, telling them how to build a campaign, how to create motivating propositions, and what media they should use to advertise their products and services.
Variety is the spice of life:
I guess this goes for any agency operating in the wider marketing services sector, whether it be insight, PR, advertising, media, brand or strategy. The old cliché of ‘there is no typical day’ is true for agency side researchers. I’ll demonstrate this by telling you what today holds for me; I’ll be splitting my day writing a proposal for a train operating company to run their full customer experience programme and then trotting off to interview people about what outdoor clothing products they buy and why. Two totally different, but intriguing challenges.
So, if you’re in your first graduate role and looking for change of direction or you’re planning on what to do when you leave university, give a friendly research agency a call and see how your skills match up to what we do day to day. You never know, it might be the start of a rewarding career in the industry.
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