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Indiana University Bloomington

Communication, Professional & Computer Skills

Managers Typically

Managers typically spend up to 80 percent of their time engaged in some form of written or oral communication.


Double majors are in vogue

Ebony Brown  
Marketing and Apparel Merchandising; Gary, Indiana

Double majors are in vogue. Just ask Ebony Brown, a student of trends.

“I always knew I wanted to major in business, and I’ve always been interested in fashion,” she says. Now a senior, Brown has been able to immerse herself in both fields with a double major in marketing and apparel merchandising (through IU’s College of Arts and Sciences).

Retail is the perfect combination of Brown’s interests, as she learned in three summer internships (two at Target and one at Procter & Gamble). She landed the internships with the help of INROADS, a program that places talented minority students in internships to prepare them for corporate leadership, and the Kelley School’s Undergraduate Career Services office. Brown credits C204 Business Communication for helping her stand out from other applicants. “C204 is the best class I’ve taken at IU,” she says. “It prepared me to showcase the skills employers look for and be more comfortable in my interviews.”

The course developed Brown’s teamwork, writing, and presentation skills and taught her to produce professional reports, such as the 20-page report her team prepared for the course’s Target Case Competition. “I think that’s why I got an internship as a freshman, because of work I had produced in C204.”

“X204 is the best class I’ve taken at IU. It prepared me to showcase the skills employers look for and be more comfortable in my interviews.”

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At Procter & Gamble the summer after her junior year, Brown met with a senior buyer at a national retailer to convince him to carry a new Febreze product. While preparing a 40-page analysis of the product’s sales, she referred to what she learned in C204. She looked through her team’s case report—“I always keep it with me”—as a reminder to include a table of contents, to organize the report logically, and to tab the different sections in case the buyer wanted to skip around. Her presentation was a success: the buyer agreed to carry the product, generating about $1.3 million is sales for Procter & Gamble. “It was an amazing experience.”

This summer, Brown is taking courses in fashion styling and trend forecasting at American InterContinental University in Paris. After she graduates in December 2008, she will start her career as a manager-in-training at Macy’s in Chicago.

Brown knows employers will always hire people who communicate well. “No matter what your role or job is, communication is the No. 1 thing employers look for because it’s the single skill you’re going to use every day.”

In Brief

Communication tips: “Take C204 seriously. Join organizations on campus with positions that will put you in front of people. Go outside your comfort zone. Don’t let your weaknesses derail you from your goal. Play up your strengths and go for it.”

On my resume: President and founder of two IU student groups: the IU chapter of the Undergraduate Black MBA Association and Epiphany Modeling Troupe, which celebrates multicultural fashion

Favorite IU memory: Freshman year at Atkins Living Learning Center, which celebrates African American history and culture. “Our doors were always open. We’d go out to eat together, we’d go to parties together, we’d do everything together. It really helped to have that sense of community.”

Web sites I visit every day: MSN for news and stock quotes, Retail Forward, and The Fashion Bomb. “I have to stay in fashion.”

Published July 2, 2008