Student Perspectives: Making an Industry and Function Switch (Yes, You Can Do It!)

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About Ashley: Prior to Anderson, Ashley Johnson (‘22) lived in Philadelphia as a financial controller and DJ. Ashley came to Anderson to merge her corporate and entrepreneurial experience into a product marketing manager role within entertainment tech. Ashley is a proud Detroit native that loves spending time with friends and family.


I hated accounting and I knew this by the time that I graduated with a degree in it, but I had a job offer upon graduation, so I followed security and stability. I intentionally decided not to go into an accounting firm because my plan was to always pivot into marketing. After exhausting all internal opportunities, I decided to apply to business school to switch into a product marketing role at an entertainment tech company. UCLA Anderson was a no-brainer for me due to its strong brand presence within the entertainment and tech industry and, honestly, who wouldn’t want to go to school in LA. I was admitted to UCLA Anderson as a Consortium fellow which means that I was required to attend a diversity recruiting conference before school started. At this conference I was given the opportunity to test my resume and interview skills with the hopes of landing an internship offer before school started. I had eight interview invitations for marketing roles within CPG, tech and consulting. I don’t know if it was the big-name financial services firm or the entrepreneurial experience that involved building and marketing a brand, but my resume was a hit. I felt very accomplished, that was until I actually interviewed. Out of eight interviews I only received an offer for one and ironically it was my last interview. By changing my approach, I was received a product marketing manager internship offer at a major tech company. These are some key lessons that I learned through the process.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

At the conference I threw my resume in the pool for any marketing role at any company that I somewhat liked, no matter if I was passionate about the industry. Starting business school, you get distracted by so many job offers that you often lose sight of why you came to business school. By having so many interviews that didn’t necessarily fit my “why” left me with little time to prep for roles that I was actually passionate about. Do some soul searching. If you don’t have the “why” for applying to a company other than “it’s a job that pays well or it’ll look good on my resume” then don’t apply; save everyone’s time.

Tailor, Tailor, Tailor

You need to spend a large amount of time tailoring your resume to fit the industry and function that you wish to target
. For example, a resume for marketing is going to look very different between tech and CPG. You need to spend time crafting bullets that hit on the functional/industry skills. This is where your creativity comes in, you have to alter your bullets to fit the function.

Talk that Talk

Now that you gained the recruiters attention, you need to spend hours prepping for the interview.
This was my mistake. Because I had so many interviews, I didn’t leave much time to prep for each one. You need to do extensive research for the company and industry, especially if you are making an industry switch. Spend time exploring the website, reading articles and connecting with employees to learn about the culture. This type of research will help you craft your “Why industry? Why company?” answers. Next you need to prep for behavioral and case questions. If you don’t have the functional experience, then you will need to spend more time than others practicing and thinking of behavioral responses that would be most valuable for that role. For example, I didn’t have a lot of marketing research experience, so I had to be creative with my finance and entrepreneurial examples to make them transferable. Most MBA roles now incorporate case questions in their interviews because it is a great way for interviewers to test your ability to think. I never cased in my life and honestly it showed in my first couple of interviews. I had no structure or framework. I focused more on providing the answer than actually showing the interviewers how I think. Luckily Parker provided me with a ton of resources to help prepare me for case interviews and with time I was able to master it enough for my final interview.

Throughout my journey I had people tell me that it was going to be very hard to make a double switch and they recommended that I do it one at a time. I wasn’t settling for this; life is too short to not be fulfilled. Making a function and industry switch is completely do-able but it will take a lot of time and effort. Even if you are naturally a beast, you have to prep. Let my story be a testimony that through determination and grit you will achieve success!


Student Blogger: Ashley Johnson ‘22

Undergrad: Oakland University

Pre-MBA: Financial Services

Leadership@Anderson: Director of Corporate Partnerships, Black Business Students Association; Director of Music, Entertainment Management Association; Admissions Ambassador Corps; Riordans MBA Fellows Program Mentor


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