Vice President, Management Supervisor
Grey Worldwide, New York
My first job in advertising was working as
a Group Assistant at NW Ayer here in NY. I didn't have any
personal contacts in advertising when I started looking for
a job, so I attended a job consortium for college graduates.
NW Ayer was one of the agencies recruiting
there, so oddly enough, my first interview in advertising
was in a booth at the Javits Center. As it was February, they
couldn't predict what openings they would have during the
summer, but they encouraged me to call after graduating. I
graduated from Franklin & Marshall College as an English
major w/ Sociology minor. I called Ayer in early July, and
then had about 4-5 interviews with different people and accounts
at the agency. I was hired as a Group Assistant on the AT&T
account. My first day there was very strange, as the entire
account was attending an off-site, so only one other Group
Assistant and I were in the office. Since my group didn't
leave me any projects or materials to read, I literally had
nothing to do except answer the phone (no voice mail in those
days - imagine!) The other GA kept trying to give me magazines
to read to kill time, but I refused to take them. I was paranoid
that someone from HR would come by and think I was "slacking
off" on my first day!
In the years between Ayer and my present position
at Grey Worldwide, I worked at Foote, Cone & Belding and
Bozell. There are several things I think are important for
candidates to consider when looking for a job. First and foremost,
every agency has a different personality and structure, so
do your research, and find which agency suits your personality.
It's very much like when you looked for a college. Some people
thrive in large agencies and like being part of a large, well-known
company. Others prefer and excel in smaller, more intimate
agencies or "boutiques". I've never worked in a
small agency, so I can't truly judge or recommend one versus
another. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Either
way, focus on getting the position you want, and prove to
the people around you how dedicated and driven you are. You
will work hard - advertising is a service industry and I've
yet to find the agency or the account that's "easy"
and 9 to 5. That said, I love it! I've been surrounded and
supported by some amazing people, and have had some incredible
My other piece of advice is to focus more
on finding the agency you want and meeting people you want
to work with versus a specific account. It's great to have
an area you want to focus on, but you also should be open
to a variety of accounts. Often accounts that don't seem glamorous
end up offering you more opportunities to learn and have the
budgets to experiment with various media vehicles. Your sustained
happiness and motivation will more likely come from being
part of a strong team of people with good agency support versus
working with miserable people on a "cool" account.
And finally, send thank-you notes, and do
it within 48 hours if possible! I know it's a pain, but it
really does reinforce your professionalism. I hate to say
it, but my co-workers and I agree an e-mailed "thank-you"
just doesn't cut it. It screams "I know I'm supposed
to send a thank-you, but I just want to get this done quickly."
The people you've met with took time out of their day to meet
with you, so you should at least be willing to take 10-20
minutes out of your day to write a short note.
Good Luck and Welcome to Our Industry!