Understand the consumer, boost the business
Jessica Shaw told her parents she wanted to major in psychology at college. They asked her what she planned to do with the degree.
"I realized I didn't want to be a clinical psychologist," says Jessica, who hails from Naperville, Illinois. "So I thought about a field where I could put psychology into practice, and I came up with marketing. By understanding people, you can create a product that truly fits people's needs and help them to understand how it can benefit their lives."
She applied to several Big Ten schools before choosing Purdue and the Krannert School of Management, in large part due to the multitude of curricular options. "You get a solid core education in all areas of business, but there is enough flexibility to focus on what you have an interest and passion to do," she says.
A member of the University Honors Program, Jessica spent a semester studying abroad in the Consortium for Management and Business Analytics (CIMBA) in Italy. She also has served as president of the Purdue Marketing Association, helping bring guest speakers to campus and providing hands-on experiences for fellow marketing students.
She heeded early advice from Darren Henry, Krannert's Director of Diversity Initiatives. After hearing him speak in a friend's class, encouraging students to land an internship as soon as possible, Jessica interned in corporate marketing with Entertainment Cruises on Navy Pier in Chicago after her freshman year.
With help from academic advisor Debbi Bearden, she has been able to fit three more internships into her Purdue experience and will still graduate on time in May 2013. Following her sophomore year, she was a professional services continuous analytics intern in Chicago with Nielsen, a global leader in market research. She worked with clients ConAgra and Kellogg's.
She'll return to Nielsen this summer with Kraft as a client. "I'll be using a variety of demographic and psychographic measurement tools, looking at the values and lifestyles of people who consume their products," she says.
Jessica spent the Spring 2012 semester as a pricing strategy intern with Hershey's in Pennsylvania. In addition to the perks—there is free candy in literally every room of the company's buildings—she has gained more insight into what strategies companies need to employ to drive business.
She's not sure exactly which functional areas she'll pursue in marketing or business analytics when she graduates next year. Chances are, though, that several companies will be waiting to hire her...which should make mom and dad very happy.