Name: Katie Kirk, MBA
Organization: Anheuser-Busch InBev
Position: Commercial Trainee Class of 2020*
(*This is an extensive, 8-month corporate rotational training program that focuses on the interwoven functions of sales and marketing. Trainees get an inside, hands-on look at the entire organization from the ground up. From the way beer is brewed all the way to infamous Superbowl ads. Once the training is completed, this transitions into a full-time position.)
Industry: CPG, Alcohol/Brewing
B.S. – Business Administration, Marketing emphasis
MBA – Master of Business Administration, Marketing emphasis
Why did you choose this field?
Since I can remember, I’ve been infatuated with brands and the stories they tell – the emotional connections that drive us to be loyal consumers and how those dynamics impact our lives and relationships. As a beer enthusiast, a marketer, and ultimately, a storyteller, there’s no place more inspiring than having the opportunity to work with a portfolio of several billion-dollar brands.
At its core, alcohol is a connector. It’s engaging. It’s fun. It’s a universal social construct that brings people together to share stories. Essentially as a marketer, that’s exactly what you’re are doing: connecting with people by communicating the story of a brand.
How did you strategize to get your career to where it is today?
Through relentless dedication and embracing what makes me unique, I was able to achieve a life-long career goal: to work for Anheuser-Busch, a company that sets the global marketing standard. My path to success was defined by passion; I knew where I wanted to go, and I knew what it would take to get there. This passion combined with unyielding drive has been my formula for success.
Through every chapter of my career I’ve adamantly worked toward the next step or next learning opportunity. If I had to pinpoint where I made the greatest effort to hone my skill set, it would be striving to be more proactive, more resourceful and more adaptable.
I can honestly say that I am never completely satisfied with results; I thrive on challenges and constant improvement. It wasn’t until the MBA program that I realized this intensity – this drive – was my competitive advantage. I learned to focus on what sets me apart and embraced my authentic self, my personal brand.
What career advice do you have for current students entering the industry in this job market?
Entering a new job market, a new industry, or a new chapter in your career while adjusting to life after graduation can seem overwhelming. Here are some helpful bits of insight that I hope will be useful during your job search:
- Focus on setting yourself apart and being transparent. It may sound cliché, but there are factors that make you uniquely you. You’re the only one with your story, your experiences and your perspective; this is your value-add. Capitalize on your personal strengths and inimitable resources and leverage those into a competitive advantage. During your job hunt, think about how you can make a unique and immediate impact to that organization and communicate that authentically.
- Build a strong personal network. You’ve heard it before, it’s all about who you know. This doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s important to continuously make meaningful connections and surround yourself with people that challenge and inspire you. For me, building a strong network wasn’t easy; a great place to start is the support system you already have: Chapman Alumni. It also helps to establish relationships with career mentors. Someone who can speak from relevant experience. Someone who has been where you are, understands your journey, knows the industry you’re trying to enter and can give you unbiased, realistic advice and feedback.
- Be tenacious. It’s critical to not get discouraged when it seems like an endless amount of applications go out only to have an underwhelming response rate. The application, interview, and job screening processes take time; keep pushing, stay determined and trust the process.
Don’t be afraid to dive into the deep end, step out of your comfort zone, or put yourself out there. Here’s to you and the incredible opportunities ahead. Cheers!
How did your Chapman education put you in a position to advance your career and bring value to an employer?
The concepts I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed, and the relationships I’ve cultivated throughout my Chapman experience have enabled me to make an immediate, powerful impact on my career. It deeply resonated with me that professors would bring real-world examples and their professional experiences to the classroom concepts. This maximized what I was learning and made it more tangible and more relevant. I didn’t only absorb information from the esteemed faculty and staff. My classroom colleagues were a constant source of inspiration and challenged my way of thinking. I was able to be a part of something greater. I was able to contribute to engaging classroom discussions, participate in dynamic teams, and learn from extraordinary individuals with different backgrounds and experiences from my own. It’s not just about the learning opportunities that happen inside the walls of the classroom. Being an active member on campus and taking advantage of the incredible resources Chapman provides, without question set me apart from the competition during my career development path. Having the opportunity to take advantage of career-building support, an extensive and involved alumni network, and strategic mentorships served as the catapult I needed to change the trajectory of my career.