When you don’t know what to do, do something
Someone once told me, “When it comes to your life, you can’t make a wrong decision. Your life is yours, and you are the one in control.” When finding out where your passion lies, you need to first be okay with NOT KNOWING exactly what you want to do.
As an advertising, communications or marketing major, or something along those lines, seeking out an internship (or multiple internships) within an advertising agency is a great way to get started. Speaking from personal experience, I wanted to be a designer. I was creative, artistic and had the patience to sit for hours until my design was perfect. I started at an agency as an “Advertising Assistant” strictly to get my foot in the door. Within a few months, I found my skills and personality better suited in the agency’s Account Services department, but would not have known that without being directly in the environment.
That said, here are a few tips to help you get started with your advertising career:
- Ask around and network. There are many events, seminars and clubs available to the public to learn about the advertising industry and connect with current professionals. A few of our favorites are: ADWORKERS , MIMA and PRSA .
- Always carry a personal business card or your resume. You never know when you’re going to need it, or have the opportunity to pass it along to someone who could help you with your career. If you want something “new school,” try Meet-Meme cards or Bump.
- Make sure your online profiles (e.g. LinkedIn) are professional, complete, and up-to-date. This is the first place your prospective employer is likely going to look to learn more about you. Add more depth to your LinkedIn profile by using plug-ins like the Reading List by Amazon that tell people more about you.
- Look for an advertising agency that has an internship program. To plug Jigsaw, we have OrangeAid, an internship program that gives students and recent college graduates the opportunity to experience a plethora of positions, working in a team environment to plan, create and manage projects for local organizations in Milwaukee. Talk about a fantastic one-stop-shop for discovering your fit in an agency!
- Apply, apply, apply. Apply any and everywhere you can. And apply early. Use an interview or phone interview to ask questions about the agency and make sure it’s something that sounds exciting to you.
- Don’t ignore a position that you don’t think you’re qualified for. Some agencies/positions need someone who isn’t completely set in their ways.
- Be flexible. Not just with your schedule, but with your opportunities and involvement as well.
- Don’t expect to get paid a lot, or at all. Nine times out of ten, a future employer will take someone with experience over someone with no experience. Even if you aren’t making anything, just know it will most likely benefit you in the end.
And finally, whatever you do, don’t stop moving forward! A step is a step and even if you veer off the path, you’ll eventually find your way. Good luck!