How a humanities degree prepares you for a career in marketing

Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited back to The University of Nottingham, to speak at a careers event for current humanities students about marketing. As part of my talk, I was asked to focus on the specific skills humanities students have, which will ensure they excel in a marketing career. It is a myth that to succeed in marketing, you must have a degree in a related area. Having worked at Elephants Can’t Jump for a year and a half, I’ve seen just how valuable my history degree has been in equipping me for the job.  

So exactly how does a humanities degree prepare you for a career in marketing?

1. A rich cultural awareness

At Elephants, we think of ourselves as ‘cultural magpies’. We are constantly absorbing culture and knowledge in all forms, as it adds depth and relevance to our work. As a humanities student, you’ll have an awareness of a wide variety of cultures, belief systems, literature and events/ideas that have shaped our world, which will come in handy in the most unexpected of ways!

2. An interest in people

As a humanities student, you take an interest in humans (I mean, it’s in the name!) An important aspect of marketing is understanding what makes consumers tick. What is going to make your target consumer get excited and want to buy your brand?

3. A sense of curiosity

At university, you will have been encouraged to ask meaningful questions to enrich your learning. Your dissertation pushes you to be curious, and to dig deep into an area of interest. That sense of curiosity is invaluable for a career in marketing, as asking thoughtful questions pushes your work to higher standards.

4. Rigorous research and analysis skills

As a marketeer, the ability to research well and thoroughly is crucial. From carrying out desk research into competitors, to uncovering market trends, to getting under the skin of a client’s brand, to carrying out consumer focus groups- your ability to analyse information from a wide variety of sources will serve you well.  

5. An ability to read between the lines

At university, you will have been taught time and time again, to look for those nuances and make those inferences. What can I learn from this information beyond face value and how can I use this? Marketing involves picking up on these subtleties. A small nuance can spark a big idea.

6. Strong writing skills and the ability to construct an argument

All those essays you’ve written will pay off in a marketing career, trust me. Your ability to process large volumes of information, condense it down and create clear and concise arguments, is a huge advantage. Marketing is all about good communication. No matter how great an idea is, if it’s not articulated well, it’s redundant. And as a humanities student, communication is your second nature.

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