At the end of July, Pharyl Weiner wrote a great AWSC piece for soon-to-be and recent grads reaching out to adland for a chance to score a job in the industry. Before you ask for just any job, she advises, you have to ask yourself “What Do I Want?” Doing the necessary research on what’s out there and finding out what you want is a vital first step, but one that’s all too easy to misunderstand or skip altogether.
After all, there isn’t exactly an abundance of job opportunities for every college graduate. In fact, a few years ago one of my college professors actually advised that we should fail all of our classes. “Even if you graduate, you won’t find jobs anyway,” he said. Charming, right? So, if you want to have the best opportunity to earn a spot at a top agency, you’ve got to know the basics. It’s more than knowing the other players with whom you’re dealing. It’s about you, too.
What do you like to do?
If you’re going to spend at least one-third of your day doing something, please, for the love of Tom Hanks, let it be something that you enjoy. No, every day will not be sunshine and unicorns, even when you’re done interning. But if you can find an opportunity that lets you do what you like, chances are that you’ll do great work. If you love working with people, find a job that relies on that skill for success — work directly with clients as an account manager or consider giving project management a try so that you can keep a team on task.
What are your strengths (and weaknesses)?
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses goes beyond basic interview questions. There are very few people who would admit to not being a hard worker, but be honest with yourself. Whether you’re a writer, designer, account manager, or janitor, knowing your own skillset is essential to success. Can you craft content like nobody’s business? Maybe you should get into copywriting. Do you doodle the way others only dream of? Consider design jobs. Do you have what it takes to keep people in line and on time? Project management may be your calling. But it’s even more than that. It’s about your time management skills — for yourself and for anyone else with whom you might work. It’s about when and where and how you come up with your best ideas. Some people come up with their best ideas in 10-minute brainstorming sessions, but many more find inspiration after a night’s sleep, after a run, in the shower, after time alone, during time with others on their team. How do you do your best work?
How can you find out what’s right for you?
At the end of the day, no amount of research on the interwebz is going to tell you if you’re right for a particular role or a certain company. So do more than just read. There are local advertising, marketing, and public relations associations in presumably every market in the world. Find out what your local group is up to and get involved. Get to know the industry folks at local networking events, ask them about their jobs and how they got started. You might be surprised by what you hear. You’re probably not going to get a job offer at a networking event, but you’ll get to know more about the industry and what it takes to get in and succeed. Maybe you’ll find out about agencies and companies that weren’t even on your radar. Maybe you’ll realize you need to do something different to stand out — like build a social presence or volunteer your talents to a local non-profit to expand your portfolio. Maybe you’ll make a friend that will try to help you get your foot in the door. Getting offline and out into the real world can work wonders.
Once you’ve done that, you might just find new opportunities even better aligned with what you want. It’s not about getting just any job; it’s about finding a way to combine your interests and skills in a way that gets you churning out great work before you apply.
Originally posted on the Advertising Week Social Club by yours truly here.