“Account manager wanted: must have 30 years experience.”
Many fresh college graduates enter the real world and start applying for jobs that seem out of reach. Companies are looking for 3-5 years of experience, which misses the mark of, well, zero years. Or at least that’s what grads tell themselves. Here’s some advice on how to grab that advertising job that your career and internship services director at school won’t tell you.
DO take part in internships while you’re in school.
Internships make a big difference in determining if you will be offered the junior account executive job or if it will go to another college grad with more experience. By the time you are a senior, most schools allow you to work for a company and receive class credit hours. You can still list your ice cream serving job from high school on your resume – it shows that you have a strong work ethic and have had responsibilities starting at a young age. You will seem more mature than someone who partied for four years and then decided to “figure it out” when he or she graduated. Make sure that when you complete an internship, you have documentation to show what you did and why it mattered to that company. It is also a good idea to have a couple of internships in different marketing arenas, such as an agency and also a small business that has an in-house director, to get a feel for what you want to do and where you want to be after you graduate. When you are confident about what you want to do, you will be more assertive going into interviews for your dream job.
Companies out there ARE looking for recent graduates.
I have finally realized that you need to talk the talk to get into the advertising world. You can come in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to the interview, but if you don’t know marketing lingo, you can forget about your chance at the job. Words like SWAT analysis and qualitative research shows that you paid attention in class but does not give you a golden ticket to the world of advertising. It is difficult to gain marketing knowledge unless you put yourself in the thick of it through internships. Terms such as media buy, search engine optimization, art cards, and traffic (no, not like I-95) are a bunch of agency words used daily. If you can provide examples to a potential employer of work that you’ve done using his or her language, you have a better chance of being heard. What garnered me the position I have now was showing solid proof that I knew how to hit quantitative goals using my knowledge of social media marketing and SEO (search engine optimization). Learn how to put dollars to sense.
Be HUMBLE during your interviews.
Some college grads “know someone” in the field, but even with those connections, there are hundreds of recent graduates competing for the same jobs. Candidates who walk in with pompous attitudes will get shut down. Be extroverted but humble in your interviews. Take criticism with a grain of salt (I promise that suit looks good on you). Senior level interviewers are more important than you. Don’t forget that. But, know that most companies cannot afford to staff a totally senior-level company. In fact, they need fresh meat to keep the system balanced and keep the CEO’s beach house. Dream goals, I know. For the interview, arm yourself with a few facts about the company and the background of your interviewer. Find a common ground to talk on so the conversation flows more easily. Make yourself someone that your interviewer wants to see every day. Show your intelligence and experience in the field while displaying you are a good listener and take direction well.
If you have any questions or would like more advice on how to get into the advertising world, call Channel Communications at 410-296-0697 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always open to holding mock interviews for recent grads- don’t hesitate to ask!