Confessions of the Newbie

So in my last post I talked about how I was about to start a new job, in a totally opposite industry from what I was working in before. I’ve been with my new gig for about a week now and WOW has it been quite the experience. From college professors and career fair speakers, I’ve been told time and time again that the advertising industry was a fast one, but now that I’m actually working in it I KNOW it’s fast…like really really fast. I’ve loaded my brain with so much information this past week that I feel like it might pop at any minute. Luckily I’m a great note taker.

I’m all about lending a helping hand to new or soon to be college grads, especially my fellow MSU Spartans, about what it’s like working in the real world after graduation. I know I could have used more advice, especially about how the advertising world works. Although I’ve only been here for a little over a week, I think I already have a pretty good feel for how the whole agency business works and I’d like to share a few tips for those of you out there looking to pursue a brand new job in advertising.

Career Sign

1.  Ask to meet people in the agency. You will meet so many people and you’ll want to remember who is who. Write it all down! From the account and creative teams to print production, you will need to establish a good relationship with them because first of all, they are much higher up on the ladder then you and you are there to work for them as they work to please the client and secondly, like I said you will most likely start out on the bottom of the food chain, so you want to establish relationships with everyone you work with. Learning who does what in your agency and being able to talk with them and learn from them is a great way to gain insight and open the door to an array of opportunities down the road. The ad world is all about who you know.

2. Bring a note pad. Whether you are writing down the names of the people you meet or helpful tid bits about the client or agency you’ve picked up during your first few days, taking notes is absolutely crucial. I have half a note pad already filled with notes. It’s probably a good idea to then type up and organize your notes when you have some free time. This goes with any job.

3. Ask Questions. Be willing to learn! I’ll admit that sometimes I like to think I’m always right so I’ll avoid asking questions to clarify things. When you are starting a new job, any job, but especially in advertising where if you do something wrong it could cause a MAJOR problem, you need to ask questions. Don’t assume you know the answer. I’ve learned in the week I’ve been here that there is a very specific way to carry out each project. If one step is missed it can really mess up the process.

4. If you can’t be organized, advertising is NOT for you! This week I already have 2 huge projects going on at once. I had to catch on fast and be able to keep track of everything at once. This requires some pretty good organizational skills and the ability to multitask. Trust me, when there’s a Friday 6 pm deadline and you are trying to get a project through it’s final stages, the last thing you want to have happen is misplace something or mix up your projects. You need to develop a system that works for you…and fast!

5. Don’t let the stress get to you. I’ve been having a tough time with this one. My life isn’t 9-5 anymore. When you work at an agency with highly active accounts you will be working till 11, 12, 1 am sometimes even. This has been a huge adjustment for me, and I’ve been having some trouble at times getting used to it considering I’m used to a 10 pm bedtime. There are times when everyone around you will be in a state of panic. Just breathe, keep your cool, and do your best to work with the panic. Offer to help and find out everything you can do in order to aid in moving things along smoothly and efficiently.

6.  Learn to love coffee. That’s pretty self explanatory. There’s no time to be tired on the job

7.  Help and ask for help. People in any work environment want you to succeed because in the long run it’s all about the client. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help if you are in over your head. Some projects will be slower than others so ask if you can help out someone else if you find yourself having some down time.

8.  Have fun. It’s pretty cool to see the ads you see on tv or on billboards take shape. There are a lot of fun things happening around the agencies as well, from theme parties to bar nights after work with your co-workers. When everyone isn’t running around trying to get a project out to print, it’s a cool environment.

Well that’s all for now. Hope this helps all you soon to be grads looking to take on the advertising world.

A New Wave…time for a change

The past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind for me…both exciting, yet stressful at the same time. Have you ever had a moment in your life…a day, or perhaps one of those weeks or months, where so much happens all at the exact same time that you feel you either want to escape to a tropical island where no one can find you or just throw your arms up and scream it all out? Well that was my month of March…but in a good way.

So here’s the deal…I was presented with the opportunity to join a large, worldwide advertising agency. I went to MSU for advertising/marketing and design and if you asked me what I want to be doing in five years I’d say, without a doubt, something in advertising. SO basically, this was my chance to start building, what I hope to be, a successful career in the industry.

If this is something I want to be doing, then why was I so stressed out about making this decision? Well, because it came down to the question of “I’m happy where I’m at so is it worth the risk to give up my comfortable, current job?” or “Am I willing to take this risk to do what I love?” It all came down to risk. But then again, what kind of life will you lead and what kind of opportunities will you pass up if you don’t take a risk once in awhile. Some of the most successful people in history would have never been able to achieve anything great without taking some risks once in awhile.

After a week of debating and second guessing myself at all hours of the day as to whether I was making the right decision or not, I went with my gut feeling. Advertising is what I WANT to do and I was given this opportunity NOW, so I HAVE to go for it! Want, Now, Have…the key components that helped me make this life changing decision. If you want something in life you have to go for it the moment it happens. You have to take that risk to get to where you want to be in life.

I was lucky and privileged to have been given the opportunity to work as a corporate buyer for my previous company right out of college. I will forever be grateful for the lessons I learned and experiences I was given as well as the amazing and intelligent people I was able to work with and learn from. It was the stepping stone I needed to get to where I am about to go in a few short days. I am excited to take this next step in my life and career and look forward to all the opportunities that will be coming my way. Yes, I’m nervous and a bit scared, but like I said, life is all about the risk.

When a new wave comes your way, ride it!

Advice From a Post-Grad (9 months & Counting)…

Yesterday I received an email from a former MSU professor for one of the advertising design courses I took as part of my Design Specialization. She basically started off this email bold and to the point, asking me “What advice do you have for 2011 grads and what do you wish you knew prior to graduating that would have changed your job search?” Wow, what a question to ask a 22 year old recent college grad whose still trying to adjust to the post college life of not being able to sleep in past noon and eat pizza 3 meals a day. That question really got me thinking about everything that’s has taken since I left the land of green and white last May. She then asked if I could come up some evening a speak to her evening class  and give her students some advice and insight into life after MSU.  I’m not quite sure where to start since so much has happened since May 6, 2010, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Since Graduation:

Around this time last year, I was frantically revising my resume, preparing a portfolio, attending job fairs and networking events at every chance I could get. I was literally applying to every job at every company in my field that I could think of…big or small, local, or thousands of miles away. Well, boy was I in for a reality check. Not only was unfortunate to graduate at one of the worst times in our economy, when jobs were scarce and the ones available had thousands of applicants competing for one spot, but a lot of companies weren’t even hiring full time. It was just a bad time all around for finding a job.

What I Didn’t Know, But Wish I Did

  • The chance of landing your dream job with your first application, first resume submission, and first interview is probably NOT GOING TO HAPPEN (and if it does I need to know your secret)! It’s tough out there and yes, my parents, industry professionals, and professors told me and my peers this, but of course I didn’t really believe them. Well, they were right.
  • You need to start standing out now—Brand Yourself. Being an advertising student I knew I needed a portfolio if I wanted to go into design, and writing samples if I wanted to copywriting and a social media presence if I wanted to go into media planning, but I started building up all of that too late. From the moment you lock in your major you NEED to start branding yourself and networking…no matter what major you’re in. Learn the industry. Know the big players and the big news. Go to every career fair, networking event and speaker conference you can. Join clubs and organizations, get on E-boards, volunteer, produce writing and design samples, and keep all your projects, papers, research etc to use as a demonstration of your abilities. You need to make sure you stand out. Take any and every opportunity you can to network and get your foot in the door.
  • Learn how to write a great resume and cover letter. This is so important. As graduation nears, like myself, you’ll want to just apply for every job in your field you can find. Before sending out handfuls of resumes and cover letters, make sure you know how to construct one. I took my resume to critiques several times before I finally got any sort of positive feedback. No one likes their work to comes back all marked up in red pen, but trust me it’s worth it for the sake of your resume and future job. A great resume = JOB! Now a cover letter is another story. Make sure you know all the do’s and don’ts. My first few cover letters were a disaster now that I look back on them.

Cartoon

My Advice to Soon-to-Be Grads

  • The job market is slowly, but surely starting to look more promising, but jobs are still scarce or highly competitive. Look at every opportunity that comes your way and don’t rule anything out, even if the opportunity is for a job that is totally unrelated to your degree. You never know where an opportunity now can take you in the future. It’s all about keeping an open mind, a positive outlook and being grateful for any opportunity you can get.
  • Whatever job you land, make sure you do your best to be good at it. Being bitter or constantly complaining about how you aren’t doing what you want to be doing won’t get you anywhere. Learn your job and do it well! I don’t know if I can say this or not, but I graduated with an Advertising and design degree, but currently I’m a corporate buyer. Of course I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing, but I am doing my best to learn the industry I am currently in and putting 110% into doing my job successfully.
  • Don’t give up on doing what you love. If you’re stuck in some entry level office assistant job for the time being, but you love to write and design then keep doing it! Keep writing and contributing to your portfolio in your free time, attend weekend classes to build up your skills, check out local industry events/conferences (they are usually open to anyone whose interested). When an opportunity you want does come your way you’re ready and have current work to show.  Employers love to see that you still made the time and put in the extra effort to build up your knowledge and skills in what you’re really passionate about. It shows character and motivation and pins you as a go-getter. Just because you aren’t doing what you think you should be doing now doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future.

This is all just my personal opinion from the experiences I had leading up to graduation, during my crazy job hunt, and my life since leaving MSU. I’ve faced a lot of challenges and had some tough decisions to make, but I think my experiences have really taught me a lot about the kind of person I am and have showed me that with some extra work and motivation I am capable of accomplishing anything. Wonderful opportunities will continue to come my way, and your way…It’s all a matter of time, patience, and determination.