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Career Stories - Brie

Senior Account Supervisor
Arnold Worldwide

...An internship is an interview and a training ground for that first job so make the most of it in every way...

College/University: Undergrad @ Southern Methodist University
Graduate @ Emerson College
Major: BA in Broadcast Journalism
Minor: Minor in International Politics
Masters: MA in Integrated Marketing Communications

Internships: Where? How long? Describe your position…
Fleishman Hillard NY

  • Summer Internship Program/Public Relations

  • Full-time, M-F in Manhattan

  • Projects for J&B, Leggs, Red Lobster, Culinary Institute

  • Paid internship

DDB Needham Dallas

  • January - May (o formal program) General and Promotions

  • Full-time, M-F in Dallas (my classes were @ 8am, so I began my work day @ 10am)

  • Projects for American Airlines International (general) and American Airlines (promotions)

  • Unpaid internship

This was an internship I talked them into letting me have as they did not have a program (got in the door by networking). The advantages for me (and them) were that I could be with them full-time and in turn, it opened up doors for me that normally are not accessible to an intern (e.g., multiple project ownership, client contact).

Words of advice on internships: You make the internship not the company, not your direct superior. Don't sit back and wait to be handed projects or work. Look for ways to get involved in what is going on around you. Read everything they pass your way and/or will let you read. Ask questions. Seek to add value to the team you are working with. An internship is an interview and a training ground for that first job so make the most of it in every way.

Where and how did you begin your job search?
My job search in advertising began in the Fall of the year I was set to graduate. I approached my search in two ways:
· Networked through individuals I had met through school, family and friends, as well as internships to make professional contacts.
Research and Cold Mailings
· Researched agencies in areas of the country I was interested in living and those agencies I was interested in working with. Those that made my list, I phoned for HR contact information and then issued a cover letter and resume. After 2 weeks passed, I followed up with a phone call to the HR contact.

Both approaches helped me expand my network as well as successfully schedule informational interviews (ask for one and/or take one if offered even if they have no immediate position open). As I was most interested in working outside of Dallas, I scheduled what I could during school vacations (Winter and Spring breaks) and invested in my career when travel was required.

Each phone call and/or meeting was followed up with a formal note and re-contact at a later date when a door had been left open. Leads from any professional contacts I made were also followed up on.

How did you get your first interview?
I got a big leg up from DDB Needham during my internship. I met my mentor there. She was instrumental in helping me secure interviews in Boston and NYC with a handful of agencies. DDB Needham's HR department in Dallas helped me make a connection in their Chicago office.

Were you familiar with the company, if so how did you prepare?
For DDB Needham, yes I was, but I still did research nonetheless on the specific accounts I was interviewing for.

For the Boston and NYC agencies I met with, I did my homework the old fashioned way - resources at the Library as well as industry publications.

Words of advice on preparing for the interview: It helps tremendously to be familiar with the agency's background, their client roster, recent awards and current work. It is also important to have a general knowledge about the pieces of business you may be working on. Know why you want THIS job. Know what you want (have an idea, a plan - not looking for you to give an absolute) to do with your career a few years down the road.

Words of advice on the actual interview: Be on time. Make eye contact. Pay attention to your body language. Have questions for the interviewer prepared in advance as well as be able to ask more about something he/she tells you. Be yourself and express your enthusiasm for the career choice you are making. Ask for the job or to be considered for a job when their hiring status changes. Ask for a business card. Write a follow up thank you note. Be caution about using e-mail as your thank you. It works for some, but not others (not personal and/or not professional enough)

How many interviews did you go on before landing your first job?
3 agencies in NYC (one or two individuals at each agency)
3 agencies in Boston (one or two individuals at each agency)
1 agency in Chicago (The agency flew me out after an informational interview on my dime and I met with over 8 different people in one day on three different pieces of business)
1 agency in Dallas (obtained through my internship)

Describe your first position…
Account Manager in the Promotions group at DDB Needham, Dallas working on the proprietary chips products for our Frito-Lay client. I also worked on the Salvation Army (pro-bono project) in the Promotions group.

When I was first offered this job (and the interview for that matter), I was not jumping up and down like I should have been. I had my heart set on entering general advertising and leaving Dallas. However, knowing how tight the job market was at the time and how tough it is to get into the ad business with a company like DDB, I took it. It was the best decision I could have made. It provided me with a great training ground, opened up doors to a national and international network of offices, and provided opportunities for my career development that today I wouldn't trade for anything.

Words of advice on your first position: Your career is an evolutionary process. You are constantly molding and nurturing it with everything you do. One position is not the end all be all, but rather a beginning to what is going to come next. Actively manage your career.

How/when were you promoted?
I kept in contact with the folks I met at DDB's Chicago office and almost exactly one year from the day I started with Dallas, was recruited for their McDonald's account. Negotiating through the internal politics wasn't easy. In the end, I was presented with two attractive options, (1) a counter offer from the Dallas office which included a promotion, and (2) the job in Chicago which in and of itself was a promotion. I opted for Chicago as it gave me the relocation I was hoping for as well as the move over to the general side of the advertising, both of which I very much wanted.

Any tips you can give to graduating seniors to help them prepare for a job in the industry?
Be prepared to work hard at your search. It takes time and dedication. Not hiring/no openings? Get an informational interview. Things change rapidly in our business. Look out for who's winning new accounts - may lead to immediate job openings. Stay passionate. You'll get there if you keep at it. Network - Network - Network. Each person you meet is a lead to the next. Maintain and add to your network list. To this day, I reach out to my network list each New Year with a personal card. The return on this investment is priceless.

Anything you wish you knew or nobody told you before going into the industry?
Despite the long and often unpredictable hours and schedule I may have to keep, I love my job and do manage to have a fulfilling personal life outside of the office.

The ups and down in our industry can be a bit tough to take, but with passion for what you do and keeping a sense of humor, it is all just part of the roller coaster ride. Personally, I am not ready to get off.


Brie Williams, aef