Marketing Pre-Grad Intern Lauren Hutchison

I first learned about the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Grad Internship program during a presentation about graduate school last fall. Dr. Hartelius was one of the panelists who provided insight on how and when to start applying for graduate school. She gave a plug about the program and I jumped at the opportunity to immerse myself in a course that allowed undergraduates to simulate a graduate student lifestyle. It has been a wonderful experience and I wanted to thank you both for piloting the program.

At first I was nervous and unsure of how to go about finding a graduate student to shadow and learn from as a mentee. I approached my marketing principles professor and laid all my cards on the table:

  • I am a fourth year business honors and marketing major and a textiles and apparel minor
  • I find a lot of my business courses uninteresting and I am not competitive enough to pursue a degree in finance, or the like
  • The most interesting classes I have taken in the business school have been my marketing, consumer behavior and international business courses
  • I wanted to add a major in textiles and apparel design, but was discouraged by the prolongation of my graduation date due to the lack of over-lap in the course work
  • The articles and chapters we have been reading about anthropological marketing and consumer behavior have stimulated my interest in pursuing a graduate degree in anthropology or psychology

Dr. McAlister encouraged me to meet and talk with one of her teaching assistants, Morgan Ward. Morgan is a third year PhD student in the marketing department in the McCombs School of Business, and is focusing her research on underlying psychological influences in consumer decision making. She was immediately receptive to the idea of taking me on as an intern and mentoring me throughout the semester and the year.

I have learned so much from Morgan and she has been a phenomenal mentor. To begin with, I did not realize that there was a separate program in the business school that exempted you from getting an MBA and placed you directly into a PhD program. In developing a relationship with Morgan I have learned about the path that she took which ultimately led to her deciding to get her marketing PhD. Initially discouraged by the immense amount of statistics that are required for a business PhD, Morgan assured me I was capable. She has her undergraduate degree in textiles and apparel design. She came back to get her MBA here at UT without any prior background in business, and decided to reroute her continued education in pursuit of a marketing PhD.

Morgan and I primarily worked on a project that examined consumer preferences with explicit and implicit branding. Morgan had just started working on a project with a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and I started out by reading some of the relevant literature and discussing the major issues that were specific to the project with her. I was very interested the effect we were examining and intrigued by the type of research that Morgan does. We met about once a week to discuss the project and outside of our discussions I did a lot of the work to collect the data we were after. I recruited personal friends and peers at the fashion school to participate in online questionnaires. After the surveys were drafted, I administered a few sessions of them in the marketing behavioral lab. After gathering the data, I entered some of the data into spreadsheets for analysis. I am very detail oriented, so coding our data was not too arduous of a task. After coding all of the data, Morgan and I met and she taught me how to run statistical analysis on our findings. The software that she uses is very complex, and we barely scratched the surface, but the introduction she gave me to some of the SAS program was very thorough. We are still working on the project; we have added seven studies to the initial research. Morgan and I have spent time thinking about the results we found and how to proceed with future project related work.

Morgan provided invaluable insight about the timeline for the marketing PhD application process, where to apply, who to talk to about my recommendations, when to take and study for the GMAT and my other general concerns. I had the opportunity to attend symposiums and seminars that would have otherwise not been open to undergraduates in McCombs.

In working with Morgan I got the opportunity to interact with the other marketing PhD students who elaborated more on the life and rigors of being in the doctoral program. They all gave insight as to whether or not I should take a break from school in between undergraduate and graduate school. Nita, one of the other marketing PhD students went straight into the program after completing her undergrad work in Arizona and does consulting work at Dell. Morgan took a long break between her time as an undergrad and entering the PhD program. She worked in merchandising at Abercrombie and Fitch, but asserts that industry experience is not necessary before returning to get a doctoral degree in marketing.

In addition to all of the work that Morgan and I did for the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program, she introduced me to a professor in the marketing department who decided to create a class this semester in pre-PhD marketing research. The class introduced us to a plethora of journal articles; we read at least two a week throughout the semester. We were also encouraged to design and run our own experiment testing a hypothesis that we synthesized throughout the course of the semester. The experiment that I have decided to test analyzes gift giving in spousal relationships. I have also cultivated an interest in green marketing consumer behavior.

I have one more semester here at UT and in that time I am going to maintain my contacts in the marketing department and research assistant position with Morgan. I plan to study for the GMAT this summer and take the exam sometime next fall. I will apply to marketing PhD programs in December.