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Career Stories - Regina

Gina
Vice President, Management Supervisor
UniWorld Group, Inc.

After presenting my resume, I was told to fill out an application. "But what about my beautiful, expensive, hand-picked resume paper" I thought....

I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in May 1992. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, armed with my degree and an advertising internship already under my belt.

So I moved back home to New York City eager to begin my career in advertising. I scoured the New York Times Help Wanted section and it seemed that the only entry-level advertising jobs available were listed under these "career placement agencies" (also known as "headhunters"). At the time, this was really the only way to get in to a large-size agency. Sending out resumes to big agencies simply resulted in a "thanks, but no thanks" response. So off I went to the "headhunter" ready to have them send me out to the "big" agencies. After presenting my resume, I was told to fill out an application. "But what about my beautiful, expensive, hand-picked resume paper" I thought. Then, to my horror, I was asked to take a typing test. After typing a mere 35 words per minute, I was told to go home, practice my typing and come back when I could type 50 words per minute or more. I went from headhunter to headhunter, hoping for a different response, but they all informed me they couldn't send me on interviews at the big agencies unless I could type 50 wpm or more. I lost hope and cringed at the thought of all the money I could have saved if I had gone to secretarial school instead of wasting it on a Bachelor's degree.

But the following Sunday, I emerged from my despair when I saw an ad for an Account Coordinator position at a small advertising agency in downtown Manhattan. I called the number immediately and set up an interview with the Human Resources Director. The interview went well-she loved my enthusiasm and my cheerful personality-and best of all, she didn't ask me to type anything and I finally got to show off my expensive resume paper. Her questions centered mostly on my experience during my internship. She did most of the talking, describing the job and its responsibilities.

I left the interview feeling pretty good, when it hit me that I had no clear direction as to what the next steps would be. I had forgotten to ask! In a panic, I ran home to call the HR Director, but to my surprise, she had actually called me. She had left a message asking me to come back the following day to meet the woman who would potentially be my boss. She warned me that the interview could be pretty tough.

The next day I met with the woman, ready for her to throw a tough question my way. To my surprise, she asked me questions that had absolutely nothing to do with advertising. She asked me about my life experiences, my likes, my dislikes, my favorite book, my favorite movie, etc. (Not hard questions, but not exactly what I was expecting.) She loved my fervor and the fact that I had a big, bright smile throughout the entire interview. At the end of the interview, she hired me on the spot and I started that day. She told me that the position paid a meager $19,000 a year-absolutely unlivable, especially in New York. But I didn't care. I knew that advertising was my passion-I would have worked for free. Well, not really for free, but I knew that I wouldn't be making $19,000 forever.

My job consisted of a lot of grunt work. I ordered and set up food for breakfast and lunch meetings and I spent lots (I mean lots) of time at the copier, fax machine and file cabinets; I even moved a stool next to the file cabinet for heavy filing days. But once I had proven that I could execute all the "little" things flawlessly and have a great attitude about it, I was given more responsibility and more interesting projects. Within nine months I was promoted to Assistant Account Executive and then eventually Account Executive.

I finally made it to the "big" agencies, but I know that I would have never gotten there if it hadn't been for the experience I gained at my first agency.

 

 

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