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Career Stories - Valisa

Art Director
D'Arcy, New York

Ogilvy & Mather New York was my first job in advertising. I was a freelancer for a month. I was a Junior Art Director at Young & Rubicam New York for two years. I received news about both jobs on the same day. I accepted both of them knowing that O & M was only for a month and Y & R was full time starting after the O & M job.

AEF: How many people did you have to meet with?

Valisa: For both jobs, I sent my portfolio by mail to be reviewed. I didn't meet with anyone. I spoke on the phone with the creative recruiters.

AEF: Did they ask you any surprising questions?

Valisa: No. Not really. I remember both recruiters asking me if I had any offers anywhere else.

AEF: How long a period of time did you search for a job in the industry?

Valisa: I got a BA in advertising from Michigan State University in '92 thinking that I was going to get a creative job right out of school without a portfolio. That didn't work. So I went to Portfolio Center to put a portfolio together and graduated in March '96. It took a good six months before I got any news from the agencies in which I was interested.

That whole process was long and tedious. I was constantly mailing out mini-portfolios to several agencies. I frequently checked in with the creative recruiter from Portfolio Center to find out about job listings. I went on interviews in Reston, VA, San Francisco and Chicago and was offered the job in Reston but turned it down. I did plenty of cold calling to creative recruiters from agencies on the West Coast and New York. I basically spent a lot of time and money trying to find a job all while working in the restaurant business for my 10th and final year. Oh yeah, I also had a couple of headhunters working for me.

AEF: How long a period of time passed between your interview(s) and your start date?

Valisa: The period of time that passed from when I interviewed by phone with the recruiters from O & M and Y & R was about a month.

AEF: How were you notified that you were hired?

Valisa: I was told over the phone on a Friday that I had to start at O & M on that following Monday. I got a plane ticket out of the deal, since I had to be flown from Salt Lake City, UT. Then Y & R paid for the moving fees.

AEF: Did you send a thank-you note?

Valisa: No. Everything was done over the phone.

AEF: Things you know now that you wish you knew then:

Valisa: Headhunters are a lot like NYC apartment brokers. They don't really care where they place you, just as long as they place you.

AEF: Things you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out:

Valisa: If you start out at a big agency, make sure you get assigned to a specific group as opposed to "floating" from group to group. It's very beneficial to have a couple of creative director bosses that can give you the attention and guidance you need coming right out of school. It's important to have mentors that are looking out for you.

AEF: How many jobs have you had since then?

Valisa: After Y & R, I freelanced at Balet & Albert, NW Ayer and Uniworld. I've been full-time at D'Arcy New York for one year and four months now.