The Alumni Association held an Alumni Career Services event on February 25, 2009, in which Drexel alumna Ilene Fink ’94, MBA ’00 shared her expertise on marketing yourself to stand out in today’s competitive work environment. More than 30 alumni enjoyed a networking reception at Estia Restaurant in Philadelphia, followed by Fink’s presentation.
Fink explained that we, as consumers, make product choices everyday and so do employers.
“You need to create a marketing plan where YOU are the product,” she said.
According to Fink, this process starts out with first deciding what your wants, needs, strengths and weaknesses are. Fink recommended creating a personal mission statement in which you describe your overall purpose and what you intend to achieve in terms of the company, its employees and resources. She also talked about the importance of a concise, targeted resume containing several references as well as a portfolio to display examples of your work.
“In your marketing plan, you need to assess the target market which is the market segment to which your efforts are focused,” Fink said. “You also need to develop a product strategy by creating a brand and a brand personality.”
She explained that a brand is a name, symbol or any other unique element that identifies you and sets you apart from the competition, and the brand personality is a specific image that describes your character, features and benefits creating a perception we want others to believe.
Moving through your marketing plan, Fink stressed the importance of setting long-range and short-term goals and objectives for yourself, as well as developing a product strategy by evaluating your competition and your competitive advantages.
“At one point, someone asked how you know your competitor's qualifications and I said to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. If you’re at a networking event, talk with people and find out everything you can about them and see how you compare to the competition,” Fink said.
Fink explained that once you’re ready to implement your marketing plan, you need to assess your budget, your schedule for implementation and evaluate whether or not your plan is plausible.
Christopher Perillo, Esq. ’81, attended the Alumni Career Services event featuring Fink. He said that he thoroughly enjoyed Fink’s program and looks forward to attending an Alumni Career Services event in the future.
“Ilene described tools essential for anyone preparing for a career shift,” Perillo said. “Drexel alumni were fortunate to hear her timely advice, especially in these challenging times."
With a passion in both business and fashion, Fink applied for acceptance into the Design and Merchandising program at what is now the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, as well as the MBA program at the Lebow College of Business.
“The package of a creative and business-focused program at a city school with a co-operative education was exceptionally appealing, thus making Drexel University my choice,” Fink said.
She found her undergraduate experience at Drexel to be an excellent one, both academically and socially.
“I've made some great life-long friends and educationally, I encountered some excellent professors that made my coursework not only interesting, but memorable.”
One particular faculty member that she recalled was Joseph Smith, her professor for both Visual Merchandising and Fashion Show Production. Fink noted that his teaching style and industry knowledge were exceptional.
Her second co-op placed her in what she calls, ‘to this day, one of the greatest positions I’ve ever held.’ She was employed with The Color Association of the United States where she learned a great deal about the fashion industry and networked with well-known, accomplished members of the community.
A few years after graduation, she decided to go back to Drexel to earn her MBA, as it was quickly evident that an MBA was essential for advancement within her profession.
“Many of the postings for positions I was interested in clearly stated, ‘MBA Preferred’ so when the company I was currently working for began to downsize, I decided to go back to school,” Fink said.
After a few positions held in industry marketing, Ilene spent six years creating literature, spearheading tradeshows, and working with customers on improving their in-store merchandising and advertising as the Marketing Director for a manufacturer of consumer goods.
“While my favorite part of my career was manufacturing consumer products, manufacturing in the United States has diminished so I figured, if I can’t practice it, I'll teach it,” she said.
That led her to teaching positions with The Art Institute of Philadelphia, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Chestnut Hill College and currently she teaches at Philadelphia University and The Art Institute of Philadelphia.