Meet Maria Jara, a junior marketing major here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. With aspirations to reach the heights of merchandising and fashion, here is how UMass Amherst is helping prepare her to reach her goals.
Why did you decide to come to UMass Amherst?
When I was going through my college process I applied to 12 schools (I was very hands-on ha ha) and I thought I wanted to go to school in a big city. I was looking at Chicago, New York, Seattle, Boston, etc. The only school I applied to that was not in a big city was UMass Amherst, and I honestly did it as a favor to my parents. They sat me down and told me to apply because of the in-state tuition. So I applied and got in but had no intention of going!
But then Admitted Students Day came around and my parents dragged me to campus, and I fell in love. I got that gut feeling, and I just knew that this was the place. And I have loved it ever since! I love it so much that I got a job as a tour guide, where I can talk about my favorite place on earth with prospective students!
Why did you choose your major?
I chose my major because I knew I wanted to do something in business, but I knew that I also wanted an opportunity to be creative! So I figured marketing would be a great choice because I could learn about the business industry but also tie in other subjects like psychology and economics, which come up a lot in my marketing courses.
I am glad I chose marketing because it also gives you exposure to all different industries. I have had internships in the retail and fashion industry, but I also have classmates that have worked in marketing healthcare or even construction! There are a lot of possibilities within the major.
What are your classes like? Do you have any favorites?
A UMass degree is built kind of like a pyramid, with three different sections that make up the pyramid. There are a bottom trapezoid, a middle trapezoid, and a tip-top triangle. Those three sections are what make up UMass classes.The bottom trapezoid contains your Gen-Ed courses and your bigger classes. Every UMass student has to take those general education categories like historical studies, biological sciences, physical sciences, etc. There are dozens of courses that fulfill gen-ed categories so you are bound to find a class that interests you that fulfills those categories.
The second trapezoid contains your school and college requirements. Every UMass student belongs to a school or college. Mine is the Isenberg School of Management! And within those schools and colleges, there are certain classes that you need to take as a student to build a solid foundation to be able to excel in your higher-level courses.
In my case, Isenberg has me take introductory courses in all five core business majors as well as microeconomics, macroeconomics, and calculus. Finally, my higher-level marketing courses are the tip-top triangle. These are kind of the nitty-gritty of what you want to study. I have taken major-level courses in consumer behavior, product strategy, and service marketing. These are very specific and they are taught by marketing professionals in the field -- by far my favorite classes.
What are the professors like?
Although I have had the majority of exposure with Isenberg professors, something that I have found within all professors at UMass is that they all care about their students. I mean that to heart. They want every student to succeed, and even in the big lecture classes, you feel as though you can reach out to the professors if you have any questions or if you are struggling.
I highly recommend for students to go to professor office hours. In my experience, my professors' office hours are where they get to know you and want to help you succeed. The UMass professors are true gems and are what make our education so valuable!
How do you plan to use your degree? How have you prepared for this path?
A marketing degree is really valuable because as I mentioned before you can use it in really any industry. However, I have taken another approach with my degree in which I have gotten internships in merchandising and fashion as opposed to solely marketing. Last summer I interned at the TJX Companies as a buying intern in their men's accessories division. I helped work on hats, belts, wallets, etc. It was awesome to be immersed in the retail and fashion industry, and I loved every second of my internship. I will be returning this summer to TJX as a planning and allocation intern, focusing more on the distribution side of things! Super exciting! Hopefully, they offer me a job within the company when I graduate in the fall of 2020!
Any tips for incoming students within the major?
My biggest piece of advice would be to step outside of your comfort zone and to try new things within the classroom and outside of the classroom! Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Whether that's sitting in the front row during a lecture or sitting with someone new at the dining hall, the best memories come when students try something new!
Have questions about majors and life as a UMass Amherst student? Contact Maria and our other student tour guides by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.