The unlikely things that got me into marketing

TL;DR: I tell most people I got into marketing by job shadowing some sports marketing folks but I actually got interested from playing video games much much younger.

My decision to study marketing, and by extension management and computer information systems, was not a linear one. Hell, I thought I was going to be a marine biologist in high school but that was purely driven by the fact that I wanted to spend all of my time at the beach. Who wouldn’t amiright?

Most typically when asked how I got into my field I reference back to a time when I was 17, a junior at Andover High School, floundering around and deciding what path I wanted to take in life. Luckily Andover had the answer for me in the form of a career mentoring program.

Andover Career Mentoring

The idea is that they set you up with three job shadows in three areas of interest and you get to spend a day in the life of that career to see if it’s something you like. I journeyed to Fresenius Medical Care and did 3 shadows: Information Technology, Management, and Marketing. All were very interesting and I could tell it was something I wanted to learn more about. I was on to something.

My mentor set me up on another shadow, with Dan Roche at the Red Sox Tonight show. I got some good insight into Sports business and production. Like most kids I grew up playing sports, and loving Boston teams, so this really got me interested. I asked if I could go on another job shadow, and my mentor was able to get me a day with the Lowell Spinners to explore Sports Management. What a day, the passion of the crowd. The seamless execution of all the different elements.

I could tell I was getting closer. I asked my mentor to set me up on one more shadow (remember I was only supposed to do three so I was pushing it at this point into the summer.) I was lucky enough to finally spend a day talking to Adam Grossman the VP of Marketing for the Red Sox.

I hit the jackpot. I could tell this is what I wanted to do. The intersection of business, design, creativity, strategy all to make a brand come to life. I only had experience in marketing through one High School class but this showed me I could do something that would play to my skills and interests. Turns out my Major and two Minors would be Marketing, Management, and Computer Information Systems. Go figure.

Video games

But wait. I jumped too far ahead. As I said that is typically the story that I tell most people because it has the most relatable examples. Boston. Sports. Marketing. Established businesses. But what if I told you I was building my business skill set way before, like age 12 or 13 young. The answer? eSports. But back then it wasn’t even really eSports it was just Video Games.

I started playing Counter-Strike when I was 11 years old. Still play it to this day which means I’ve been in it for the last 15 years. The game wasn’t the reason I never got bored after all those years. It was the ecosystem surrounding the game. The communities, the teams, the businesses that were constantly evolving. Outside of the work I would go on to do for some of these the basis of the game was communication. Pure and simple, effective communication and team work separated the teams that won and the ones that lost.

When I first started out I had a huge interest in computers, and was already dabbling in photoshop and had begun to teach myself HTML, CSS, and the basics of Javascript. Every time I joined a new team I developed my skills making and maintaining websites for them. It helped me grow my network and my skill set.

Eventually I wanted bigger and more robust opportunities. I found my way to radio stations. These weren’t your typical radio stations you think of nowadays but eStations. They were doing match casting for professional matches, coverage, music, tournaments, the list goes on. They were micro communities that lived on Microsoft IRC (Internet Relay Chat) back in the day. I usually found myself running the day to day show on these and helped draft sponsorship proposals to companies to sponsor us. I was bringing in web developers, designers, server providers, and much more into our fold. It’s a shame that most of this predated social media because most of it is now lost.

More importantly I was working on my writing skills, something key to any good marketing professional. I was doing match recaps, interviews, thought pieces, sponsorship proposals. The list goes on. I was learning the importance of good content and story telling especially in written communications.

This is really what led me into further exploring the business field. It was just too niche and nerdy to put on my college application is all. Then college happened and blah blah blah the rest is history. Until we meet again eSports.

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