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Career Stories - Andrew

Communications Planner
Zenith Media

...Building relationships with clients, understanding their businesses, and identifying their thought process are valuable skills...


University: Cornell University
Major: Policy Analysis & Management

Clubs/Extracurricular activities:

I did not participate in any advertising related clubs or activities in college. However, I think activities that develop leadership, creative thinking, project management, and communications skills can be useful for working in the advertising profession.

Internships: Where? How long? Describe your position…

Following my junior year, I participated in the American Association of Advertising Agencies' (AAAA) Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP). This program serves to promote minority involvement in the advertising industry. I interned for 10 weeks in Account Management at Foote, Cone, & Belding - San Francisco, working on Levi's Slates and Microsoft's WebTV.

It was a beneficial experience as I saw first hand the advertising profession. Opportunities were available to become involved in my accounts' day-to-day operations and interact with team members, hearing experiences of what their jobs were like and the challenges they faced. This internship exposed me to the many disciplines of advertising from creative or media to sports marketing. I would encourage future interns to become involved in every possible opportunity. An internship is a great chance to learn and grow. Therefore, take full advantage of it.

To compliment my work experiences, MAIP helped me to meet peers who shared interests in advertising. I formed friendships with my fellow MAIP interns as we worked and lived together in San Francisco. These friends have been an invaluable form of support by helping me with my initial job hunt, being an outlet to share the conflicts and challenges I face at work, and encouraging me to achieve. Having participated in this program during college, I am active now in the alumni group - participating in candidate screening and mentoring.

I would also recommend to students in their sophomore or junior years a summer internship program organized by the Advertising Club of New York. This program offers placement opportunities in media, publishing, and advertising in New York City. It is complimented by weekly seminars, focusing on various aspects of advertising. While I did not participate in this program personally as a student, I am involved in the program's candidate selection and mentoring processes.

On another note to young advertising professionals just starting out, I recommend volunteering your time with an advertising organization like the AAAA's or Ad Club of NY. It can be a rewarding and worthwhile experience.

Where and how did you begin your job search?

I began my job search during the fall of my senior year. Despite being too early to interview for full time positions, I was able to set up HR interviews and start making contacts in the industry. This is an opportunity to see what each agency has to offer, understand their recruiting practices, and help put a face to the name on a resume. Other good options to establish contacts and learn about job openings would be career fairs, industry events, and Internet job sites. Alumni contacts and headhunters can also be helpful.

How did you get your first interview?

In the late spring of my senior year, I had my first non-HR advertising job interview. I had received the interview by sending my resume to the HR department and following up with a cold call.

Were you familiar with the company, if so how did you prepare?

The best sources to use when preparing for an interview are trade publications like Mediaweek or AdAge. These sources give you an idea of recent developments in the industry and at the agency you are interviewing with. The company's website is also useful to prepare for the interview. Make note of agencies that have just won new business pitches. Often agencies with new accounts are looking to hire.

How many interviews did you go on before landing your first job?

I went on many interviews before landing my first job. Despite numerous setbacks and disappointment, I persisted in my job search. My advice to graduates is to remain positive and keep the situation in perspective - there are many opportunities out there and hard work will eventually pay off. Do not stay frustrated or take rejections personally. If possible, look for ways to improve yourself - a better organized resume, better preparation for the interview, more knowledge in a certain area, and etc.

Describe your first position…

My first position was with Zenith Media in NY as an assistant communications planner. The interview process had moved quickly and I received offer less than a week after I had visited the agency. I did not have prior experience in media, however the opportunity to learn a new area of advertising peaked my interest. My initial few weeks were an adjustment. Eventually I started to grasp my accounts, learning about media each day, and became acclimated to my surroundings. Gradually I became more confident in my abilities. Additionally, helping out on agency new business pitches were a beneficial opportunity for me. I was able to gain valuable experience in areas outside the scope of my daily tasks.

How/when were you promoted?

After having worked for approximately 15 months, I was promoted to Communications Planner. While I continued to work on the same account, the promotion was a welcomed challenge. I assumed greater responsibilities and have gained valuable experience interacting with the client. Another difference has been working with an assistant planner. I am responsible for teaching an assistant basic media skills and helping he/she utilize these skills in completing projects. Additionally, the promotion has helped me to gradually improve my communications skills and task/time management skills.

Any tips you can give to graduating seniors to help them prepare for a job in the industry?

In advising a new hire, I would recommend that he/she pay close attention to his/her supervisors. Listen to what they say and do. Learn from their experiences and knowledge. I have been fortunate to work with knowledgeable people who were patient and interested in my development, teaching me the ropes of the media business. For someone starting out, it is critical to find an environment where you will have the opportunity to become involved, supported by your co-workers, and challenged.

Anything you wish you knew or nobody told you before going into the industry?

One important thing that I have learned during my year and half in media has been the role of the client in the overall process. While this does depend on the specific situation, the client is an added dimension to the job. Building relationships with clients, understanding their businesses, and identifying their thought process are valuable skills. This differs in comparison to building media plans in an academic setting, where planning can almost be done in a vacuum with the absence of continuous change. In the working world, projects are met with client's changing parameters, deadlines, budgets, marketplace conditions, and etc.



Andrew Wone, aef