MBA Admissions: Dartmouth Tuck and Marketing

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This post about Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, focusing on marketing, is part of a series of interviews about top MBA programs called “MBA Career Goals and the B-Schools that Support Them.” Please subscribe to our blog to ensure that you receive all the posts exploring the elements at each school that will help you pursue your goals in finance, consulting, general management, entrepreneurship, marketing and more.

A quick glance at Tuck: Tuck currently has the 3rd highest average starting salary and bonus among the business schools ranked in US News & World Report (March 2012). About 15% of Tuck graduates go into careers in marketing.

Here is a summary of the interview with Rebecca Joffrey, Director, Career Development at Tuck:

What kind of background and skills do you like to see in applicants expressing interest in a career in marketing?

The feedback we get most from companies looking to hire MBAs for marketing positions is that they seek the ability to deal with ambiguity. In other words, can you deal with big, broad questions without clear answers? Can you distill a question like, “How should we enter Market X?” into objectives, strategies, and tactics without a lot of guidance? You have to be able to demonstrate that you can make assumptions and decisions, sometimes in the absence of data. That’s the ability to deal with ambiguity that marketing entities seek.

A second quality they seek is “commercial experience,” and by that I mean experience in a sales or marketing role where you were attempting to influence behavior in the marketplace. This kind of experience is distinct from advisory experience. In a commercial role, you have really gone in and built something, living with the consequences of your decisions, the ups and downs of trying to move something forward. Consultants, even marketing consultants, don’t necessarily have that kind of experience, although they can make a case for themselves by showing they know how to think about things from the customer or consumer perspective.

Finally, it’s important to be able to show you have the ability to work cross-functionally and persuade people. In marketing, you are trying to influence entire organizations—the sales force, people in the manufacturing facility, procurement. You have to get everyone on the same page. The ability to work cross-functionally means you are able to persuade people who do not report to you and move things forward.

What about career changers?

You can switch into a marketing career, but you have to show that you are consumer-focused, whether that consumer is a private individual or a large, complex corporate entity, or anything in between. That focus implies that you can show how you start with a consumer need in the marketplace and work backwards based on those needs towards your objectives. Many people think about their needs and their products first. The marketing mindset revolves around customers’ needs.

What aspects of Tuck’s MBA curriculum do you feel are best suited to students who want to pursue a career in marketing?

Tuck’s general management core curriculum is ideal because it is not all about marketing. It’s about strategy and finance and supply chain… and marketing. All the things that you need to run a business. As a marketer, you are running a business; you’re just doing it within a brand or product. Tuck’s core curriculum cultivates the broad range of skills you need to rely on. You need strong financial skills to run a P&L, and that’s a big part of the marketing job. You have to understand supply chain issues, channel management, all kinds of things that are relevant to running a business or a brand. I was in marketing before coming to Tuck, and I would argue that Tuck’s first year core curriculum prepares you better than being a marketing major.

Second year at Tuck is entirely elective. This is the time when you get to dive deep into specific areas of interest. Marketing electives include “Managing the Marketing Channel” and “Marketing in the Network Economy”. There is also an opportunity to do a consulting project through the Tuck Global Consultancy, where students can consult on marketing issues for global companies.

Which school clubs and extra-curricular events are most relevant to people interested in marketing?

The Marketing Club is a big part of your experience at Tuck. It allows you to get to know your sector and the skills required, and it helps prepare you for interviews. The club itself has a whole program to help you. For example in the fall we have Sector Smarts, which is an alumni panel where you learn about the different companies and what the career paths look like. And then at the end of Fall A you can go on a career trek to visit companies in the New York area, such as Pepsi, Colgate, L’Oreal, Nielsen, and American Express. Then there is a Marketing 101 series where second years and alumni prepare you for interviews.

That is the functional area, but everyone in marketing is usually focused on industry so there is consumer biz marketing, healthcare marketing, tech marketing, or retail and then there are clubs for those different industries and interests.

Which companies recruit the most Tuck graduates pursuing marketing careers?

Tuck has very strong corporate relations in this sector, and sometimes has more jobs in marketing than students! Tuck’s top hiring companies for marketing include: Amazon, Colgate, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, and L’Oreal.

We want to give a BIG thank you to Rebecca Joffrey in the Tuck Career Development Office for granting us this insightful interview!

By Linda Abraham, president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog

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