Beyond the Textbook: Adapting to the Real World

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In my last school year while I was pursuing my marketing degree I knew I had to remember key theories and textbook definitions for the years to come, like Maslow's hierarchy of needs or the Gross Rating Point formula. It wasn't until I was out of college in my first job when I realized that all the theories and media math formulas would have to be removed from textbook scenarios and applied in real world context. It didn't matter if all things considered company A planned to create a psychographic analysis on the local market because in the real world there is no company A or B and there are entire variables missing.

As a diligent student I brought my marketing notebook from college to my first job. It was the notebook that had all the answers, or so I thought. I spent a great amount of time looking up everything from how to create a marketing plan to a proposition statement layout: For people who ________, brand _______ is selling _______, which is _________. As the years passed my notebook slowly turned into a reference book and the answers I wanted were harder to find in my notes.

Once I stopped looking for answers in my notebook, I realized that I was not getting graded for submitting meticulous work but rather for reaching deadlines fast, understanding the situation including the client's or team's needs, delivering relevant solutions, and presenting comprehensive results in a concise manner. Today my best grade is receiving feedback, which sometimes is not as clear as getting an A+ or B- but it is the best progress marker that has allowed me to move forward in my career.

Without the need of a notebook I now absorb and understand projects faster and I'm able to produce timely results. It's always a challenge to take on projects I have never encountered before, yet previous experience and knowledge are the best resources to apply in new scenarios. While still in school learn, participate in competitions, have internships that may take what you are learning in class into a whole new context, and be immersed with your field of study.

Any company will take a student that can easily adapt themselves to new situations and is pragmatic when confronted with real world challenges. An excellent record may be impressive but the more adaptability and understanding of a situation the more value the company and the student will get out of it.

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