June 17, 2013 by smallarmyjeff
I have a confession to make. When I was a Senior at UNH, I applied for an internship at Arnold Advertising. The rejection letter came back saying I applied too late. But, the signature at the bottom of the letter caught my eye: “Jon Castle, Intern Coordinator.” So, I immediately picked up the phone, called Jon Castle, and begged my former RA (Resident Assistant) from UNH to let me in. One month later, I was a media intern (unpaid) at Arnold Advertising, and the rest is history. I got into this business because of a connection (and begging). Thank you Jon!
Twenty-plus years later, as students, recent college grads and others ask for my advice about advertising, I feel compelled to share this story. However, I do have a few pieces of advice that I hope will help those considering a career in advertising:
1. The hardest part about advertising is getting in.
As you already read, I got lucky. But, for most people, getting into this business is the most difficult part. Do whatever it takes to get in the door, even if it means working for free. Once you are in the door, the opportunities are everywhere you make them.
2. “Fun” does not necessarily mean “easy.
Advertising can (and should) be a fun business to be in – it’s creative, it’s collaborative and every day brings new challenges. However, it is also full of tight deadlines, differing opinions, difficult feedback, long days/nights and big personalities. It takes thick skin to be in this business. Be prepared.
3. It is a small world.
Everyone in this business knows one another (especially in Boston). We’ve worked at other agencies together, met at industry events (there are quite a few), sat on panels together or even met in the lobby of a new business pitch (that doesn’t only happen on Mad Men). We compete with one another, but we are also friends with one another. Be nice to everyone. You never know what the future will bring.
4. You don’t know it all – and you never will.
To me, this is the beauty of advertising. Every day, we learn. If you think you know it all, you do not belong in this business. Every perspective, every interaction and every experience is a learning opportunity. Take advantage of it, or you will quickly become irrelevant.
5. Relationships are everything.
It’s not just about who you know – it’s about how they know you. Be yourself and take the time to get to know others. More than anything, we all want to work with people we like, trust and can have fun with. Great work follows. And, so does opportunity.
If you’re looking to get into this business, I hope this helps.
If you’re in this business, please feel free to add or comment to any of the above.
If you don’t fall into either of the above categories, please share this with others who you believe can benefit.