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3 things grads should know about starting their advertising careers.

May 19, 2016

Finals are over, you’ve got a diploma and you’re almost caught up on sleep – so what’s next? If you’re looking to start an advertising career, here are some tips to get the ball rolling (and hopefully kick in some doors along the way).

Stay connected

  • Here comes the buzzword … networking. In the ad world, the people you know really are valuable resources. In most places, agency life is a tangled Web of past and future co-workers, so it’s good to treat everyone with respect and keep in touch with the people you click with.
  • Staying connected also means being active on social media. Even if you’re not tweeting out every latest industry development, read what other people are saying and get to know how the various platforms work. (This even goes for LinkedIn.)
  • One last part of staying connected is getting involved within your local ad community, even if you haven’t officially started your advertising career just yet. You’ll demonstrate initiative, and every luncheon or lecture will be rife with networking opportunities.

Feed your brain

  • Take advantage of every opportunity to learn from those already immersed in advertising careers. Maybe you know a seasoned professionals who could be your mentor. You’ll never know until you ask. Suggest grabbing a cup of coffee to learn about their career path, or see if you can set up a job shadow.
  • Speaking of job shadow, if you want to work in an agency, get inside an agency! Set up a visit someplace that makes work you admire. We all know how tough it can be to break into the industry, so people are pretty open about answering your questions and showing you the ropes if you’re genuinely interested in the work they do.
  • You might be out of the classroom, but you should never stop learning. Use an online service like SkillShare to take a class. Try a new hobby to expand our interests. Or, just keep honing your skills by offering to help out a local business on your own or assigning yourself spec work. The biggest thing to remember is not to give up. Don’t get discouraged if your work is turned down; this is a subjective industry. Find something constructive to take away and keep charging ahead.

Show up. Raise your hand.

  • The hard truth is, no matter how good your skills are, you won’t get hired everywhere. A big part of hiring new recruits is determining whether someone is a good “culture fit.” You’re likely about to enter a fast-paced work environment where teamwork is crucial, so everyone on the team needs to fit just right. On the flip side, even if you feel inexperienced, showing your passion, determination and willingness to learn might make you a better candidate than a more experience person with a poor attitude.
  • Sometimes getting your first job is about being in the right place at the right time. That’s why knowing who you know and taking the initiative to seek out opportunities can be so important. No matter where you go, be your best self: ask questions, go beyond what’s asked of you, be prompt in responding to emails and think about what you really want.
  • This industry is full of passionate people who love what they do. Set your sights on a work environment that will allow you to thrive and grow the way you want. National agency, local office, three-person start-up – the possibilities are practically endless if you keep your options open.

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