Speaker stresses networking, persistence

By Mark Peek

The American Marketing Association can provide a taste of real world, out-of-the-classroom experience for students serious about the business field.

Diana Henderson, a distributor sales coordinator of Toshiba, spoke to the campus chapter of AMA last week. A 1988 graduate of NIU, Henderson emphasized the importance of networking. “The AMA is a great opportunity to meet people and find out what’s out there,” she said.

About 700 students at NIU are members of the AMA. “I can’t stress how important it is to get involved,” said senior Bill Kotowski, AMA vice president.

Although many students don’t get hired right out of school, Henderson told students to be persistent. “Never close your door on an opportunity,” she said. “It’s who you know to get an interview, but it’s who you are and what you know to get the job.”

Henderson brought a sample of current job openings at Toshiba, giving students an idea of what the company is looking for. Engineers and other technical professionals are in high demand, but sales positions are very competitive.

Henderson suggested students work on how they present themselves to potential employers in job fairs and on-campus interviews.

“You have to connect, and it helps to have something in common with that person,” she said. “You have to show that you really want the job and are sales-oriented.”

The AMA is an international organization headquartered in Chicago. Having over 55,000 members worldwide, it provides students and professionals with marketing research, educational placement, seminars and competitions.

Jinny Shipe, AMA collegiate services director, said students are a big part of AMA. “For an annual membership fee of $25, students receive the magazine Marketing News and get a starter kit, Careers in Marketing,” Shipe said.

The AMA national convention in April will have eight student finalists presenting marketing strategies in a competition sponsored by Mastercard International.

Recently, the AMA has been trying to push a certification program for other professionals involved in marketing. AMA representatives claim certification for market researchers would insure competency and professionalism in the industry.

Others think the program threatens diversity in the field and means increased costs. “It’s a solution in search of a need,” said Rudolph Struse, senior vice president of marketing for Nielsen Marketing Research. “The AMA is interested because it would be a highly profitable venture.”