So, you've decided you want a career in advertising. Everything you've read online and seen on TV and in the movies makes it seem like the perfect profession for you. Before you put in the groundwork of landing that advertising gig, following these ten steps can help you break into advertising and make the most out of a new career.
Understand the Different Industries
Though there are very similar aspects of advertising and public relations, there are lots of differences between these two career paths, too. Many times, all of these industries are confused as being one and the same. Before you proceed, know which industry really matches up with your ideas and personality.
Know What to Expect
It may sound glamorous and high-powered, but you need to find out if advertising is the right career for you. Are you ready to work long hours for low pay in a high-pressure environment? These are just some obstacles you may face as a budding junior ad professional. You may have even encountered some common misconceptions about what a career in advertising is like. Know what to expect before you take the leap.
Choose the Right Career Path
You don't have to be creative to work in advertising. If you're well-organized, have good people skills and you can manage multiple people working on various projects all at once to make sure your team meets deadlines, a career as an Account Executive may suit you very well. Or maybe you're more of a numbers type of person, and researching data to determine ad placement is right up your alley. In this instance, a career in the Media Department may be just what you're looking for. Explore the many careers in the ad industry to determine which ones interest you most and which ones you would like to work toward.
Evaluate Your Education
Many people want to know if they have the right education for a career in advertising. A lot of questions even come from college graduates who wonder if their degree would get them a job in the ad industry. Others want to know if any education is required. Choosing the right education for a career in advertising depends on your own career goals. Some people in the ad industry don't even have a degree while others have found advertising courses are just what they need to kickstart their career.
Study Your Possibilities
Working in an agency isn't the only way to be an ad pro. An ad agency is probably the first environment that pops into your head but there are other alternatives that can give you a long and successful career in the business.
An in-house agency serves as a full-fledged ad agency. However, it just has one client. Employees at production companies usually spend most of their time writing, shooting and editing commercials for clients. There's also the freelancing side of advertising, where copywriters and graphic designers can freelance for ad agencies, in-house agencies and production company clients as well as business clients who may not have an agency on retainer.
Study the possibilities to see if there is a particular working environment that might appeal to you more than another. This will help you in your job search for possible positions.
Intern for Experience
Interning is an excellent way to gain valuable experience and to get your foot in the door with an ad agency. You will make key contacts you can use to get a job but you may not need them right away if the agency offers you a permanent full-time position when your internship is complete.
You want to make sure you get the most out of your internship, so don't be a wallflower. This is your time to shine by helping others, show your eagerness to learn the business and get your hands on anything the agency will let you help with.
Create Samples to Show to Potential Employers
Writing or design samples are crucial if you want a job as a copywriter or graphic designer. But if you're just starting out, chances are you don't have anything to show a potential employer. Speculative ads, better known as SPEC ADS, are just what you need to show your ability to do the job. SPEC ADS give you instant writing samples you can use to show a potential employer your writing voice or your design style.
Prepare Your Portfolio
When you're called for an interview, you need to be prepared. Put those SPEC ADS or other samples of your work in your portfolio (ideally online) before the phone rings.
Getting your portfolio ready ahead of time means you're ready to go even if the potential employer needs to meet with you within the next hour because he's getting on a plane to Tahiti at 4 p.m. And if you've researched your potential employer's needs beforehand, you can change your portfolio to adapt to the company's specific needs to make you really stand out from the large pile of resumes sitting on the desk.
Land the Interview
Now that you've decided what type of advertising career interests you the most, you're ready to line up those interviews. Be realistic, be persistent, and be honest. These are the basics to follow when looking for a job but there are other ways to increase your chances of being noticed when you apply for the position so you can be sure to land the interview.
Go Get That Job
If you've made it through each of the steps outlined here, you're more prepared than most people who want a career in advertising. There are a number of opportunities out there for the taking, so go get that job.