Career Management

In this article I’ll tell you about the things I did to get solid offers from IKEA, Willys, and Tetra Pak to do my master’s thesis in marketing for them. These are some of the most elite retailing companies in Sweden.

Just to let you know, I did my master’s thesis on the topic of in-store marketing. But it doesn’t matter, because the things I’m about to tell you about can be applied to any kind of company or niche, and your grades will not matter.

Anyone can use this strategy.

So, let’s get into it! These are the steps you need to follow:

1) How to decide your thesis topic:

First you must understand what business area that you want to do your thesis on. Second, it’s a good idea for your thesis to fulfill two criteria:

a) It should be about a topic that you’re interested in, or something that you think will continue to be in demand in the future: 

If you don’t already have a good idea whether your chosen niche is in demand or not, there are two quick ways to check this out:

  1. First you can Google a major company in your niche, look up their information, then call them up or send an email with some questions about the industry and explain your situation.
  2. The second thing you can do is to head over to Google Trends and type in some different terms or concepts within the busines area or niche. Sometimes a niche can go under several names. As you can see here in the picture below, the concept of “in-store marketing” isn’t very popular on Google. But “retailing” and “visual merchandising” which are closely related, are much more popular:

google trends

This example seems negative, by looking at it. But I happen to know otherwise, and therefore I was not discouraged in seeing it. The point is this, Google Trends shouldn’t determine what you do your thesis on, but it could be used as an indicator as it is usually accurate in showing Internet searches for keywords.

b) The topic of your thesis should be about something that you know that companies are working with already.

By: Ray

Why? Because it’s always easier to sell something that there’s an existing demand for, than it is to sell something totally new. It requires a lot less convincing. Your topic should also be something that has a practical value. Not an unprofessional topic like “Gender Equality in Mammal Communities”. Such a topic has zero practical value, and will not be useful for the strategy I’m telling you. Another reason why it’d be stupid idea to choose a topic like that is because you’ll be spending 3-6+ months writing your thesis and doing your consultancy work for the company. This is an important part of your life and a great opportunity to proactively springboard yourself into a career of your own choice. Don’t let it go to waste!

Don’t waste this opportunity, like most other students do. Instead, be deliberate about this whole process. Use your thesis as a synergistic process for long-term growth in a profession of your own choice.

2. Choose your dream company with this strategy:

Once you’ve chosen a business area, it’s time for you to do the following:

  1. First you need to go to Amazon.com and check out the top books in this niche. This will give you an overview of what the main problems in this field are. You could also go to the advanced search option and check for bestsellers in the niche.
  2. Buy at least one of these books and read through it thoroughly. By the time you have finished the book you will know infinitely more than you did before. This should allow you feel comfortable selecting a particular field to investigate within this business area.
  3. Look up and contact 5-10 experts within your business area, INCLUDING the author of the book you read. Ask these people some specific questions related to the business area, and let them know you’re writing a thesis on the topic. Note: This is very important. Ask these experts what they would write about regarding the topic, if they were in your position. Take some time to write a good email that you can basically copy paste to them all, with the exception of their names. If you haven’t already decided the exact question you will investigate, these experts will have lots of useful input. Also, be sure to ask them which companies would be ideal to write the thesis for, in regards to your topic. They will which company is the best one fit for you — and they are also your entry ticket into that company.
  4. Write a specific email to the author of the book you read. Make sure you connect with this person, because you will need to borrow authority from this person. If there was something that really interested you while reading his/her book you should ask about that. The author will be delighted that you’re so interested. After you’ve done this…
  5. You should’ve got at least 1-2+ responses from the experts, suggesting what might be a good topic to write the thesis about, and what companies would be a good fit. If you’re lucky, the experts or author might even introduce or recommend you to a few companies. This happened to me.
  6. Contact 5-10+ companies related to your business area. Do this by email first, then by phone (especially if you don’t get a response back). In both cases, what you want to focus on, is this:
  • Emphasize that you’re offering free work for 3-6 months on a specific topic. No one in theirright mind says no to free work.
  • Make sure you bring up the experts’/author’s names. Say that these people recommendedthat you do your thesis for the company. Include as many names as possible to make use of social proof.

If you do this right it should result in a number of interviews. And the best part: Your grades will not matter at all, and you’ll still get your thesis at a top company, and hopefully get hired by them afterwards.

When you get to the interview, make sure you emphasize that you’re more interested in helping out the company, and learning more about how their business works, than you are in producing a high quality academic thesis and pleasing your professors. Show that you’re a result-oriented teamplayer who has their best interest in mind.

Also, make sure you bring up important facts from the book(s) you read, and opinions of the experts/author. This will show that you’re already knowledgeable about the topic, and will give a more professional impression.

3. and then…

You select the best one of the companies you had an interview with to do your thesis. Make sure you do a kick-ass job for the company and overdeliver on the work you do.

And then?

Then you get hired.

I wish you the best of luck.

But you won’t need luck if you’re using this strategy.

Author: Ludvig Sunström runs startgainingmomentum.com, where he writes about practical tips and self-development. He is also the author of the book Breaking out of Homeostasis, and has a master’s degree in International Marketing.


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