Adworkers panel tells students they're not crazy
Last night I had the great pleasure of sitting on a United Adworkers-sponsored panel discussion at Discovery World with Jigsaw CD Nick Pipitone, Mitch Markussen from BVK, Dennis Jenders from Laughlin Constable and Andy Larsen from Boelter Lincoln.
It’s always fun talking to students, and this was clearly a highly-motivated group, to come out during finals week to hear Nick pontificate about the Chicago Cubs and give some career advice in between sports metaphors. The students asked a ton of excellent questions, and while I wasn’t taking notes, I’ll do my best to capture some of the key themes from the discussion.
1. NETWORK. The old cliche “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is true; often that’s what will get you in the door. And if nothing else it will make your cover letter, the necessary evil that we established that we all dislike, less awkward. Use the tools at your disposal – social media in particular – to research your audience and know what they care about. Connect with them and offer some value.
2. BE PERSISTENT. Nick and I often disagree, but not on this point – if you contact someone, and they don’t respond, don’t give up. I get that you don’t want to be a “pest”, as someone said to me last night, but you have to understand that we are all crazy-busy people with a million balls in the air at any one time. It’s entirely possible that we read your email or your letter and are absolutely open to meeting you, but it just gets lost in the day. Try, try again. Unless we say “No” and then, it’s time to move on. : ] Likewise, if one agency says “no”, don’t give up then either. You might be a great fit with the next agency.
3. MAKE YOUR WORK AS GREAT AS IT CAN BE. Mitch said it well: “Who you know will get you in the door. Your work will keep you there.” Whether you’re a designer or writer or a strategist or a PR person, we’re all obviously looking for mad skills. Ask as many people as you can for honest feedback on your work, and keep polishing it.
4. LESS IS MORE. Whether it’s a cover letter, a resume, or a portfolio of work, share only your best stuff. A paragraph written smartly and with personality is a better cover letter than a page-long regurgitation of what’s already on your resume. Keep your resume to a page or, at most, two, just summarizing your major accomplishments.
5. BE YOURSELF. When making hiring decisions, agencies are looking almost as much for a personality that fits the agency as they are for great work. Both have to be there. And you owe it to yourself to find an agency that is a great fit with YOU, too. So don’t be nervous or try to fake anything. You have to be you.
6. BE PASSIONATE. One of the most important factors in getting our attention, an interview, an internship or a gig is your passion. Demonstrate that you’ll bring energy and initiative to the job.
7. DON’T ACT LIKE THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM. We want you to speak up and share your ideas, and we want to learn from you because you ARE smart, and we’re all still learning too. But the sense of entitlement that we see from young professionals sometimes is not attractive. Be confident, but also be humble.
8. EXPECT TO WORK HARD. We’re in an incredibly fun, interesting, always-different business. But don’t expect it to be a walk in the park. We often work long hours…be ready for it. It’s a mad and crazy business but worth it. So, no, you’re not crazy to get into it…but sometimes you will think that you were.
I think those are the high points. What did I miss? What other questions do you have?