How I became a market researcher


When I was ten, I wanted to be a veterinarian. When I was 13, I wanted to be an archaeologist. When I was 17, I wanted to be a psychometrist and picked out every course for four years of university before I even knew if I was accepted.

I was delighted beyond belief when I got my first job doing psychometrics before I even finished grad school. I loved developing tests, running validity and reliability stats, and writing technical manuals stuffed with disgusting quantities of charts and tables.

So why the switch? Well, after a couple years of that, I realized there wasn’t a huge future in testing. The employment opportunities and room for growth in the test development and validation industry were small. There was little room for variety, whether in topic or statistics or employer.

Back in grad school, I had skimmed the course calendars (why do I love course calendars?) and noticed that the marketing students were taking research design and statistics courses too. Apparently what I loved to do applied to other careers as well. The idea layed low in my mind over the years before I finally decided to see if someone would give me a chance.

I’m glad I adjusted my course. Instead of a set series of statistics and processes for every single project, every single project has a unique problem with unique measures and goals and statistics and reports. I still get to do content and criterion and test-retest validity, but now there is so much more than dear old Cronbach.

Tell me then, how did you end up as a market researcher?

Pippi Långstrump
Pippi Långstrump‘ by Meanest Indian via Flickr

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  • 2 responses

    1. This is a popular subject at smaller huddles during a conference. I fell in by way of an interest in political polling, but I truly think it has been an accidental profession for many of us. It seemed for a long time to barely make a course interest beyond Research Methods II.

    2. I graduated from UW with a BA in German Literature (long story) and not know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I went to work at a temp agency. My first assignment was with a research firm as an interviewer for an in-store intercept project. Several assignments later as an executive phone interviewer led me to realize that research fulfilled my natural curiosity. Why do people do what they do? 24 yrs later, I’m still learning new things.

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