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Company: Imperial Tobacco Canada

Position: management trainee (marketing)

Employed: 18 months

Where did you go to school? What program did you attend?

I attended Concordia University's John Molson School of Business. I majored in international business with a minor in finance.

What drew you to your current field?

I attended a career fair where I met representatives from Imperial Tobacco Canada. After listening to them speak about the tobacco industry and their company, all others seemed mundane.

How did you find your current position?

I researched various management trainee programs on the web and hundreds of companies, both in Canada and abroad. After hearing representatives from Imperial Tobacco Canada speak so highly about their company, the responsibility of working for a tobacco company, the opportunities within Canada and through British American Tobacco, and the dynamic and challenging day-to-day working environment, I investigated further and applied for my current position.

Tell us a bit about your responsibilities.

In my first phase of the management trainee program, I am currently a brand associate. As such, I am involved in all activities related to the company's brands. My responsibilities include monitoring weekly, monthly, and yearly performance, evaluating trends, engaging in discussions with our legal counsel, identifying opportunities and threats, briefing agencies on new designs, attending focus groups, brainstorming to generate new ideas, meeting with suppliers for merchandise and hardware, and evaluating artwork. If I had to sum it up, I would call it project management.

What skills have you learned through your work experience?

Before starting the management trainee program, I was an account representative. In dealing directly with retailers, I had to constantly adapt my style of communication to accomplish my tasks. I learned how to negotiate and manage contracts, work with a budget, increase product distribution, manage pricing and credit policies within my territory, and execute programs. As a management trainee in marketing, I am now learning to create the programs that will be executed in the field. I have to interpret data, monitor performance, brief agencies, generate new ideas, evaluate artwork, and develop launch plans and programs. I learned so much that I felt like I had a lifetime of experience within the first six months of my employment.

What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?

You have to be a very hard worker, be able to adapt to change, be up for a challenge, and be confident. Over the course of the management trainee program, you will switch roles several times. This means a new manager and new expectations every few months. In addition, you will work in another country for a time, meaning that you will have to accomplish these tasks while adapting to a new culture. You will frequently find yourself outside your comfort zone.

What are your future career aspirations?

I would ultimately like to work in the brand management group, hopefully in an end market outside Canada.

What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job?

Never settle for anything beneath your standards. It took me many months after graduation to find my job. I had numerous interviews and job offers,but none felt right. I have been working for Imperial Tobacco Canada for 18 months and I could not be happier. Not settling is the best decision I ever made. jp

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