The New Girl: How to Get Your Start in Advertising
As a millennial, it can be challenging to be taken seriously in the business world. We either don’t have enough experience or don’t have the connections that only come with years of experience. So, how do you get your start?
I’ve learned in the last year that everyone has experience. Everyone has internships and connections, and it’s hard to feel unique as a millennial. When I graduated college last year, I knew I had to put together a plan. A plan that involved me standing out amongst the other of thousands of young adults that wanted to work in the advertising and communications industry.
I slowly learned that applying aimlessly on LinkedIn and Indeed wouldn’t work for a job that I was truly passionate about. Millennials face many challenges of rejection and many don’t have thick enough skin to realize that it’s normal.
After leaving my very first job in recruiting, I knew this time that I had to do things differently if I wanted to break into this industry. I had some experience now, so I figured it would be easier, I was wrong.
I made an excel sheet of every single PR, advertising, marketing, and communications company in San Diego. I wrote down the name of the company, what they did, and who to contact.
I fixed up my resume next. I wanted to be in a creative industry and my resume looked like something you turned into high school English class for credit. I went on to canva.com and started to create my one-of-a kind resume.
Once my resume was updated and I had all my contacts, I started to send out 20-30 resumes a week. This went on for a month, and let me tell you; not hearing back from a company is so much worse than getting that typical rejection email. I wasn’t even looking to see if the companies had openings, I simply just sent them my resume and followed up once a week.
I think that’s the biggest issue with millennials; we are scared to be “annoying” and follow up because we take everything personally. I was not scared to annoy my possible future employers and no longer afraid to fail. The important thing to understand is that there is a professional way to do this. Once you send an email, you should follow up a week later. After that, follow up one more time, and then move on and keep on going.
Find other ways to personally connect with people. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to make connections, or joining societies in your local area (such as, PRSA [Public Relations Society of America] or attend the Creative Mornings meetings in San Diego monthly). I met so many people while trying to find a job, and it made such a difference with my confidence.
After a month of interviews and 24 hours of stress a day, during the last week of April (right when I was questioning if I should just move home to Orange County), I got a LinkedIn message from Les Kollegian. He had accepted my request from weeks earlier and messaged me with a generic, “Thank you for adding me to your LinkedIn account”. I took this as an opportunity to respond and asked if he thought I was a good fit for his company and to hold onto my resume. To my surprise, he responded and said that he would, “get back to me”.
A couple weeks earlier I had googled, “best advertising places to work in San Diego” and came across Jacob Tyler- Branding & Digital Agency. There weren’t any positons that I thought I would be a fit for, but I still emailed him my resume. I then added him on LinkedIn giving myself an extra chance to be noticed.
Les is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Jacob Tyler- Branding & Digital Agency. Les gets 100 applications a day, so why did he respond to me? Why did my tactic work and what made me stand out?
I was persistent.
Two weeks after messaging on LinkedIn, I was continuing to apply for jobs while at the local coffee shop and having the worst day. I then remembered that it had been some time since I heard from Les, so I went back to LinkedIn and followed up.
Two hours later, I got a call form a random number and answered with a confused, “Hello?”.
It was the infamous Les and he said, “Hey, I figured I should return the favor and follow up with you since you followed up with me. Let’s chat.” We ended up talking for an hour and he offered me an interview for the next day.
I came in the next day and walked into the vibrant office with the bright red walls and sat down with Amy Antony, VP Operations & Project Management. There was a connection with this office, like I knew that it was meant to workout. The way I was spoken to, and the way they believed in my skills was refreshing.
I started work the following Monday as the Project Coordinator and have been here for a month now.
It has been challenging, but rewarding. I’m learning what I always wanted to learn in an environment where I’m getting what I need while also being pushed to reach my potential. In the end, the best thing I can say to that struggling millennial is: keep going. Don’t be that person that takes “no” for an answer.
Don’t be afraid to be persistent, don’t be afraid to reach out, and don’t be afraid of rejection. This industry is built for people with thick skin, and millennials need to know that in the end, it will workout. You just have to keep on pushing and persistence makes for a killer work ethic that advertising agencies won’t be able to reject. One day, you will find someone who is going to give you a chance to prove yourself, and you better be ready to do just that.
In this industry, you have to want to kick-ass and know that it’s your time to make your mark, and just remember; success is earned, not given.