You’re Not a “Haas-hole”

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People aren’t born with corruption as their goal in life, but rather people grow and develop aspirations, and sometimes fall short of their moral compass along the way. I want to share my story, where I went through and continue to go through the process of balancing my dreams with my ethical values.

Throughout my life, I have been taught to act with integrity and consideration for others. As a business student, I am constantly reflecting on my career goals, making sure my intentions and actions are in line with my moral compass and ethics.

The “Haas-Hole”

From an outsider’s perspective, the term “Haas-hole” comes to mind. People feel that business students’ intentions are corrupt, because we are “learning to make money”, rather than a technical skill. However, this mindset fails to grasp everything the term “business” encompasses. Yes, in order for a for-profit business to survive, profits are necessary. But, there is so much more that happens before profits are realized.  Businesses have the potential to impact thousands, if not millions, of lives every day. Employees, customers, influencers, suppliers, distributors, shareholders – these are all people who are touched both directly and indirectly by the role businesses play in society. Moreover, businesses have significant power, where their actions can either benefit or hurt stakeholders. Though my intentions are to act with integrity and consideration for others, is that really enough? Or do I need to consider the repercussions of my actions?

The Beginning

Ever since I was the age of six, I have had a love for business. This sounds crazy, right? You’re probably thinking, “how on earth could a six-year old possibly like, let alone love, business?” It all started in my home. My younger brother and I had converted our bedrooms into operating businesses. Some days it was a 5-star restaurant, and other days it was a luxury day spa, where we charged our parents and grandparents reasonable prices, of course. Throughout high school, I continuously exercised my creative desires, organizing school dances and other events. I’d show up at 5AM just to start lining the entire school with posters and decorations in order to build spirit and unity amongst our campus community. And somewhere in between making menus for my restaurant and making signs for high school dances, I found my love for marketing.

Marketing

In my opinion, marketing is one of the fastest changing aspects of business. The ways people interact with products are constantly shifting. In the 1920’s, people would sit by the radio in order to receive information. By the 1950’s, television ads had become the next big thing. Then came the online banner ads. And now, you are exposed to product promotions on Instagram and Snapchat. Cool, so what’s the point? My point is this. Marketing is so much more than just advertising products or services. Marketing captures the art in which people communicate with each other and our surrounding environment. It’s the way businesses connect and engage with society. Sure, radio, television, internet and social media ads are all trying to sell you something, but it’s the “why” that is most intriguing to me. Marketers have to be knowledgeable of the relevant communication outlets in order to do their job effectively. Coming up with a message is easy. It’s coming up with a message that people will resonate with that’s difficult. This includes the way people are exposed to the message. Different audiences engage with different technologies and platforms at different times and places, so it is important to capture them appropriately. Now with that said, I have to ask myself, “will pursuing a career in marketing allow me to continue acting with my core values in mind?”

Career Goals and Ethics

Objectively speaking, marketing involves a variety of processes that ultimately attempt to create a demand for a product or service. However, is this really ethical? How much “stuff” do people really need. Do people really need that Kate Spade purse? Or do people really need five different colors of Converse shoes? I’m a person who considers my ethics and moral compass in every decision I make. As such, this was a conversation that I commonly had during interviews. My passion for marketing was obvious, but could it satisfy my need to make a positive contribution to society? Could I still pursue a career in marketing, while staying true to my beliefs about what I feel is right and wrong? My answer is yes, conditional to the following:

  • I believe in the company’s mission statement
  • I believe in the product and/or service the company is offering/selling
  • The company is genuine, meaning anything the company portrays itself as to the public eye is 100% accurate
  • As a member of the marketing team, I will never lie to consumers (i.e. products that consumers do not need will not be expressed as such)

Though this list is quite general and brief, it has helped me to find an amazing opportunity, where I feel I do not have to compromise on my career aspirations or personal values. And trust me, there is no better feeling than waking up to do something you love, while feeling good about doing it. So, just because you’re majoring in business, it doesn’t mean you’re an unethical person. You’re not a “Haas-hole”, despite outsiders’ negative perspectives. You’re allowed to follow your career interests and passions, while following your ethical values. Hopefully my story and thought process can help you to figure out how your aspirations will or will not align with your moral compass.

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