e-mentor Market Research

Your Name (optional): Diane Mackie

Male/female: Female

City: Barrie

State/Province: Ontario

Country: Canada

Industry: Marketing Research

Job: Researcher

Company (Optional): Diane Mackie & Associates


Well, this is a case of don’t do as I do, do as others do! I have a University Degree in Physical and Health Education, but I didn’t want to become a teacher, so I worked my way up through the field department of a research company. MOST people who want to get into this field, though, study business, marketing, statistics, or the behavioral sciences (sociology, psychology). Actually there is a program called the Research Analyst Program at Georgian College in Barrie, which will teach just about everything you need to know to get launched in this career. It’s called a post-diploma program because you need either a University degree of Community College diploma to be accepted, but it’s a top-notch program and virtually all the graduates get jobs in the research field.

Training/experience required (years, other jobs):

You can get your foot in the door by working in the field department of a reputable research firm (not one that does telemarketing and calls it research, though!). This could involve conducting interviews, coding questionnaires, and even program surveys to be posted on a website. These types of jobs are widely available and once working for a research company, you can learn more about how to move up the ladder so you are working with clients to solve their business problems.

Explain what you do:

It’s totally fun. I get to ask people lots of questions about anything and everything under the sun. The trick is to know what questions to ask, and how to ask them. That’s what spending time doing fieldwork can help you with. Sometimes we design questionnaires to be asked over the telephone, sometimes in person (say in a shopping mall) and sometimes for the Internet. It just depends on what we need to know, and how fast we need to get the information. For instance, I could ask you right now” – do you think it is going to help you focus on the right career? And your answers along with those from other kids, can be provided to the program designers to tell what they are doing right and what they need to do more of to make the program even better.

Why should kids choose your career path?

Because there will always be a need to connect with the ideas, thoughts, opinions, and issues that people have. Information of this type is interesting to collect, fun to work with, and you get to help people solve problems. If you like problem solving, this is a great career choice. Since becoming a researcher I’ve studied everything from chocolate chip cookies, to bank services, to product names, to men’s shoes, to figure skating. Now where else, other than possibly advertising, can you get to have fun with all these topics?

What would you recommend career wise and how should kids approach/develop their preparation for a working life?

Unless you particularly like selling coffee through little windows, or flipping burgers, I’d say you want to go for job opportunities that teach you the “soft” skills. Those are things like, working in groups, solving problems, managing your time, communicating with others and resolving conflict. You want to know the best place to get some of these skills? Believe it or not, as a camp counselor! I’ve conducted research at camps, for camps and with campers and can I tell you, I’d hire an experienced camp counselor before most MBA students! Check it out. I’m serious!

Lessons learned:If you started all over again what would you do differently?

I didn’t know about the field of marketing research when I was in University, so I probably would have studied business or marketing. But, the Phys. Ed degree didn’t hurt me and I still like to play sports in my spare time. The point is, you never know what doors will be opened or when, so keep an open mind.

A favorite anecdote, phrase, or expression relating to business that inspires you:

Researchers are “curiosity for hire”. If you have a curious mind, and you like to figure out what makes people tick, this is the job for you.

Other suggestions or relevant information you would communicate to kids regarding careers in general:

Ahhh….It helps if you can write well! Sorry to tell you this, but if you can’t communicate your ideas and get people on board with them, you will have trouble making it in any career (other than selling coffee or flipping burgers). Also, be constantly aware of your reputation. It will follow you for the rest of your days – so begin as you mean to continue. Be honest, work hard, use your talents well and your reputation will flourish – so will your career.