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Thread: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

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    Smile Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

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    Hello Everybody,

    To tell you a little bit about myself, I worked a part-time job during the final semester of my engineering as a Content Researcher with a media company I was responsible for collecting information and gathering requirements through in-person interviews, on-ground surveys, and online search for composing content for the companyís publications. It was during this time when I realized where my interests lay and so, I decided to undertake a research course in media communications to explore my options further. After earning my Bachelorís degree in Computer Science, I went on to pursue an MBA in Communications Management with a specialization in Media Management. Some of the courses that I enjoyed in the program were the ones related to Marketing, Research Methodologies, Statistics, and Consumer Behavior.

    During my internship, I worked on two research projects, one that involved determine meta-data values with the help of information collected from secondary offline and online sources based on their requirements, which was used to improve their TV content discovery and search across multiple device formats and the other project involved in-depth analysis of the Southeast Asian television market. With the organization's market presence already in Indonesia, they were looking to expand their business across other Southeast Asian countries. I enjoyed this project in particular as it involved extensive research work.

    I worked on several other research projects during my time at Symbiosis University, my favorite being the development of a white paper for one of the most renowned media networks. The objective of the project was to analyze technology adoption and, identify and understand digital content consumption patterns of users across multiple device formats. We used the secondary online databases and industry reports to put together all our observations.

    After graduation, I took a small leap from the Media to Information Technology industry and joined a marketing research firm. During my short stint as a Market Research Analyst here, I worked on forecasting demand, identifying new technologies and new investment opportunities in the Information Technology sector. Realizing that my strengths lay mainly in the Media industry, I joined a digital marketing agency. I have been working here as an Analyst in the Marketing Analytics department for almost 1.6 (will be 3 by next year) years now.

    As an analyst, I work on evaluating marketing channel performance, consumer-product interaction on the brand website, consumerís purchase behavior, formulating key performance metrics to check for brand/product interactivity and website performance concerning site engagement by using different analytical tools (Google, Adobe, etc.). I have always enjoyed working on retail industry-specific projects, and this is one of the primary reasons why I want to undertake research in this field.

    I haven't had the chance to work in an academic set-up after graduation. Also, I needed some time to figure out my research interests and I am still working on figuring out a specific area of interest in the online retail space. I think my academic performance has been OKAY so far. I have narrowed down my research interests into three broad areas in online retail - Identifying gaps in user buying journeys to improve and create better product delivery experiences online at each touch-point (focused on micro-moments), effect of each marketing experiment on user buying behavior and comprehending the actual purchase intent of the consumers.

    Undergraduate: 60% B.Tech in Computer Science, JNTU, Kakinada)
    Post-Graduation: 3.12/4.00 (MBA - Communications Management, Symbiosis International University)
    Work Experience: 2 years and more


    I plan to take GRE and TOEFL this August (2017). I am considering applying to some of these schools - University of Chicago (Booth), Maryland (Robert H.Smith) NYU Stern, University of Georgia, Univ. of South California, and similar other schools. I have read some their research papers and it is very much aligned with my interests.

    Could you please suggest if there is anything else that I should be doing to strengthen my application and schools that I should be looking at? I would prefer a brutally honest response on my profile. Would really appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Roma

    P.S. Apologies for the long post.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    For the target schools you are looking at, simple okay performance won't cut the mustard. Some of the profiles seen over here who have made into top 20 from India are from IIT plus IIM and few years at Investment Banking or big 4 consulting.

    I am not into marketing and BrazilianPhD is your best bet. But, in my opinion, it would be wise to apply widely, especially t50 range. Score well on GRE, especially quant and identify PoI from your target schools who combine retail and marketing in their research. The business school at University of Arkansas has good ties with WalMart and assume it could be a fit with your interest; worth exploring.

    Quote Originally Posted by RomaDindi View Post
    Hello I think my academic performance has been OKAY so far.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Welcome to the forum, it's always fun to see the new crop of potential applicants poking through the soil like spring blossoms.

    So let me first say that you seem to have an impressive resume for industry. It looks like you've done a lot in relation to marketing research. That's great! Don't let anyone tell you any different. The problem for you will be that this type of research is not necessarily relevant to academic research. That being said the research that you have should help you to write a compelling SOP, I would just warn you against focusing on it as research experience. Rather frame it as the tools you obtained to that led to you being interested in academic research. If you do that it will go a long way.

    Your graduate GPA is going to be an issue. Since I have no other information, I'm going to assume that the graduate GPA is actually a 3.12 out of 4 and that it wasn't converted. This will keep you out of all of the top 50 programs. It just will. Most schools have listed on their sites a hard cutoff of 3.5 for graduate GPA and honestly that hard cut-off is closer to 3.6. The reason for this is that grad school is known to inflate grades (not necessarily artificially mind you), so anything below an A- average is a really bad signal. Of course if you were in the top 10% of the class and can show that then it's not a big deal, it just means your school graded really hard. To deal with this GPA you will likely need to take some additional classes (I suggest in psych or stats) and get A's in them. You will need to do this at a highly prestigious school that is widely recognized around the world as a top program. This will help alleviate any doubts from your grad GPA.

    You will also need to ace the GMAT. Something like a 750 or 760. Even with that though, you'll likely be looking at the bottom half of the top 50 because of your grad GPA and lack of research experience. The nice thing is that you can fix the lack of research by getting in with a professor right now. Go camp out at a famous faculty's door and force them to let you in on a project. It would be even better if you came with an idea you were interested in pursuing. Do it right now. Leave your computer and go start researching. The more famous the prof the better. You'll need this for your letter of recommendation's anyway.

    You are aiming way too high with your school choices. That's not a problem everyone does this at this point in the game. When I was coming up with my school list it was filled with nothing but top 10 programs. Just broaden your search a little and I bet you'll find some great programs with profs who are doing interesting work. A really good way to expand your net quickly is to find profs at the top 10 whose work you like. Then look at their co-authors. If they work with students you'll find their students' names as co-authors. You can see where those students ended up at and (because of how academia works) they are likely at lower ranked schools (lower than top 10, likely still top 25). This is an easy way to build your net quickly with schools that are good research fit and more closely fit with your profile.

    Finally let's have a quick chat about your research interests. At this point in the cycle they are way too narrow (and at the same time too broad). When you are applying schools want to see that you have a basic understanding of what your field of interest studies and kind of have an area that is interesting to you. For example your idea to look at the purchase funnel is actually really interesting. That is an extremely hot topic right now. But studying it at each touch point is too broad (too many variables at each) and studying it at one touch point is likely too narrow (thin slice). A better way of thinking about that area of research would be to think about the potential theoretical drivers of the purchase funnel, choose one that you think (based on reading) is having a major effect on the final purchase decision that hasn't been studied before and drill down on that. Even if you don't go that deep in your applications (which is perfectly fine I think) just stating that you are interested in the potential psychological drivers of the purchase funnel and pointing to a few different theoretical approaches would be a really solid research description.

    Alright one more thought on your research interests. You state that you are interested in consumer behavior, but your research interests scream quant. Not a lot of CB people do internet marketing, it's pretty hard to collect behavioral data, plus your reviewers are likely to be quant profs. For example the people at Smith doing internet marketing are all quant faculty and publish exclusively in quant journals. If that's what you are interested in, though, you should think about going the quant route. The pay is better and the market is statistically significantly easier (although no market is "easy"). Let us know if you have any questions. We're here to help.
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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Thanks, PobleNou for holding me in such a high regard!

    Well, XanthusARES has a lot more experience and already wrote most things I would write.

    Could you explain why you want to change your career now towards academic research? Because, right now, it seems hard to sell that idea. You said you prefer brutally honest response, so think of a convincing way to answer statements like:
    - "You do not seem to be academically great, given your GPA"
    - "You seem to be happy and successful enough working with research outside academia"
    - "You don't even seem to know what are your research interests, and the little you know seem to fit a research company better than academic research"
    If you are not able to get great answers, schools may be inclined to think that a PhD is not for you. Following XanthusARES advices can help you to develop answers (outstanding GMAT, a little academic research experience etc.)

    Defining a list of schools to apply to is one of the hardest things to do during application, but really something you must do by yourself. I think that looking for professors who love doing applied research is important, since applied research is closer to the experience you have. Professors may prefer someone who has industry experience, since you will probably work close with companies to solve their problems.

    I also was confused by your interests, it is still not clear if consumer behaviour or quantitative marketing is the right path. But I'm inclined to say quant. In that case, how are your skills with math, econometrics, economics, programming, things like that? That could help too.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Quote Originally Posted by PobleNou View Post
    For the target schools you are looking at, simple okay performance won't cut the mustard. Some of the profiles seen over here who have made into top 20 from India are from IIT plus IIM and few years at Investment Banking or big 4 consulting.
    Hello,

    Yes, I am aware that getting into the top 10 programs with my performance so far is impossible especially with no academic research experience and it is a little upsetting.

    I am working on creating a better list of universities that are more specific to my research interests. I will definitely consider looking at the works of professors from the University of Arkansas and other universities that specialize in this area.

    Thank you so much for your review and help. Appreciate it.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    So let me first say that you seem to have an impressive resume for industry. It looks like you've done a lot in relation to marketing research. That's great! Don't let anyone tell you any different. The problem for you will be that this type of research is not necessarily relevant to academic research. That being said the research that you have should help you to write a compelling SOP, I would just warn you against focusing on it as research experience. Rather frame it as the tools you obtained to that led to you being interested in academic research. If you do that it will go a long way.
    Thank you and yes, I understand. I will keep this in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    Your graduate GPA is going to be an issue. Since I have no other information, I'm going to assume that the graduate GPA is actually a 3.12 out of 4 and that it wasn't converted. This will keep you out of all of the top 50 programs. It just will. Most schools have listed on their sites a hard cutoff of 3.5 for graduate GPA and honestly that hard cut-off is closer to 3.6.
    It is not a converted GPA value and the highest score at my university was 3.7/4.00. So, maybe I can assume that it's a good thing? Not sure. I have started brushing up on my statistics knowledge by studying online courses - MIT Opencourseware. Will this help or would a paid course that offers a certificate add any value to my application? Kindly, suggest.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    You will also need to ace the GMAT. Something like a 750 or 760. Even with that though, you'll likely be looking at the bottom half of the top 50 because of your grad GPA and lack of research experience. The nice thing is that you can fix the lack of research by getting in with a professor right now. Go camp out at a famous faculty's door and force them to let you in on a project. It would be even better if you came with an idea you were interested in pursuing. Do it right now. Leave your computer and go start researching. The more famous the prof the better. You'll need this for your letter of recommendation's anyway.
    I do plan to write my GRE exam this August and I want to be able to score at least 320 or more if that's possible. I am assuming that GRE scores are also used for screening applications and that there is no preference for a GMAT score. I have tried applying for 'research assistant-ship' at few good universities but, I haven't received any call yet. I haven't stopped trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    A really good way to expand your net quickly is to find profs at the top 10 whose work you like. Then look at their co-authors. If they work with students you'll find their students' names as co-authors. You can see where those students ended up at and (because of how academia works) they are likely at lower ranked schools (lower than top 10, likely still top 25). This is an easy way to build your net quickly with schools that are good research fit and more closely fit with your profile.
    I have sent emails to few students (current PhD students) from some of the universities like Marshall School (USC), Simon (Rochester) and others asking them about their research work. Few have responded while the others haven't yet. Maybe, I am not asking the right questions. I have tried reading few published papers too. Honestly, I am struggling with shortlisting universities that offer programs suitable to my skills/research interests.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    Finally let's have a quick chat about your research interests.
    I believe my experience with so many marketing research projects has helped me understand few things about what I want to focus my research study on. I have always enjoyed analyzing the effect of each marketing experiment on a set of audiences and the responses recorded in the analytics tool(s). I provide suggestions improve on-site visitor experience or product delivery experience and I do this by looking at multiple parameters like the user purchase funnel, micro-interactions on site and other similar engagement parameters from each marketing source. I do know that I want to explore this field further. So, it's more inclined towards internet marketing, website effectiveness, funnel analysis (digital field specific) and mainly, marketing performance. I haven't been able to find many papers based on these research topics. Should I be looking at any specific journal because "marketing" based search isn't helping.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    A better way of thinking about that area of research would be to think about the potential theoretical drivers of the purchase funnel, choose one that you think (based on reading) is having a major effect on the final purchase decision that hasn't been studied before and drill down on that. Even if you don't go that deep in your applications (which is perfectly fine I think) just stating that you are interested in the potential psychological drivers of the purchase funnel and pointing to a few different theoretical approaches would be a really solid research description.
    I am definitely taking this seriously. Thank you so much!

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    For example the people at Smith doing internet marketing are all quant faculty and publish exclusively in quant journals. If that's what you are interested in, though, you should think about going the quant route. The pay is better and the market is statistically significantly easier (although no market is "easy"). Let us know if you have any questions. We're here to help.
    I want to work with somebody who is an expert in this particular field. I will consider taking the quant route as most of the other research fields (consumer behavior) demand otherwise.
    This advice has been the best so far. It has given me clarity regarding what I should be expecting. I do want to work on my skills and research experience. I will consider all your suggestions.

    Thank you, XanthusARES
    P.S. Apologies for the super elaborated response.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Totally just reread your post, you definitely did not state that you were interested in CB. So ignore my post about psych courses. Focus your efforts on stats or econ courses. These will be much more helpful for a quant tracked marketing student.
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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    Could you explain why you want to change your career now towards academic research? Because, right now, it seems hard to sell that idea.
    I have both personal and professional reasons regarding why I want to do a PhD. Personally, I think I have always functioned much better in an academic set-up than industry set-up. The kind of work I do right now has very little to do with core research, is very service-oriented and is not satisfactory.

    Yes, I do not have academic research experience and I wish I did. Working with my professors during my time as a student at my university has to an extent, given me a vague idea of how academic research works? What I miss the most right now is the way I worked and the type of efforts that were expected out of me (by my mentors) as a researcher. It was never too easy but the work always had the right kind of challenges to deal with and also, the results were extremely gratifying.

    It is not the same anymore.

    The reasons why I took some time off after graduation was mainly to understand my research interests and what I was good at and also, I needed the money to pay off my education loan The decisions I made so far have put me in this position today but, I wouldn't say I regret any of it because it has helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses as an individual and as a professional. I think now, I will be able to use these industry learnings to my advantage for my research study in the near future. I have tried many ways to get back to the kind of research work I did back then and I am willing to work hard. I believe a PhD program is the only way I will be able to fulfill my career and personal goals.

    My academic performance is not up to PhD standards but, I believe my performance in the research specific subjects (for example, statistics, research methodology, etc.) has been good. I am not sure if this will help and there is not much I can do about it anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    I think that looking for professors who love doing applied research is important, since applied research is closer to the experience you have. Professors may prefer someone who has industry experience, since you will probably work close with companies to solve their problems.
    I will definitely consider this suggestion. Thank you so much! A right direction is all I need at the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    But I'm inclined to say quant. In that case, how are your skills with math, econometrics, economics, programming, things like that? That could help too.
    I am quite comfortable with Math. I think all I need is some practice at the moment and I should be fine. I do not have any core programming experience but, I do work on technical executions at my workplace that requires a bit of programming (depends on the scale of work) Also, I have a basic understanding of how R tool works and though I haven't used it for my work, I do practice on it once in a while. Economics or Econometrics are subjects that I wish I was good at. If given the chance and the time, I would explore it. I have started re-working on my research skills and knowledge at the moment.

    I have tried getting hold of few research projects at universities but, sadly only few in India are recognized globally for their work. I haven't stopped trying.

    Thank you so much for your time, BrazilianPhD. Your review has helped me a lot and I will do what is required.

    - Roma
    P.S. Love your blog too! The information is exactly what we applicants look for.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Yes, shall do.

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    Re: Request Profile Evaluation - For Fall 2018 (PhD in Marketing)

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    Totally just reread your post, you definitely did not state that you were interested in CB. So ignore my post about psych courses. Focus your efforts on stats or econ courses. These will be much more helpful for a quant tracked marketing student.
    Yes, shall do.

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