5 answers

How do I get a job out of college as an account manager? What makes a successful advertising account manager?

Asked San Jose, California

I am graduating in December 2018 with a degree in Advertising from San Jose State University. I want to work in account management/client services in an advertising agency after graduation. I have a bit of familiarity with what this role entails and what the advertising industry is like. However, I would love to hear first hand from professionals. I want to start honing in on skills that will make me a competitive candidate as I enter the job market. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!

#advertising #marketing-and-advertising #sales #business #business-development

5 answers

Stefania’s Answer

Updated Skippack, Pennsylvania

Hi Ben,

I have a soft spot for advertising because it's where my career started! It's a fun industry full of energy, creativity and great people. It's a lot of work and many hours, but if you love being part of something great and creative, you'll enjoy yourself immensely. A great part of account management is understanding that you are ultimately responsible for the final product and that you are the middle man between both the client and your in-house creative people. Therefore, there's a lot of running around to make sure it all happens and all happens on time. You have to set timelines and adhere to them strictly. You also have to make sure both parties -- clients -- and in house creatives are happy.

Important skills to have apart from the know-how are communication, time management, detail orientation (you'll be the last person signing off on ads so they need to be perfect) and problem solving. You'll be juggling many things at once so it's important to be organized. Before you set your sights on becoming an account manager, traditionally you would start as an account executive, work your way up to supervisor and then managerial levels. So my best recommendation would be to sift through the ad agencies that interest you, depending on your location. Choose your top contenders and then dig around their Career section to see the job description and requirements they are asking for in an entry level position like an account executive or assistant. See how you fit and where your development areas are. This will also help you get a feel for their company mission and culture, which is important when you interview. You can also look into LinkedIn or job search engines like Indeed.com to see what agencies are looking for in a candidate. If you have the opportunity to Intern anywhere, I would highly recommend looking into it. It's a fantastic way to get a little experience and exposure under your belt.

I'd also recommend reading up on the recent news trends and ongoings in the ad world (AdWeek and Advertising Age are great resources). Pick a few campaigns you really love and be prepared to talk about why you think they hit the mark with audiences in case you are asked.

Hope that helps, good luck to you!

Stefania recommends the following next steps:

  • Narrow down your top agencies and research job descriptions for the role you are going for and how you stack up against requirements
  • Get informed by reading trade magazines or joining professional associations and following the recent trends in the space
  • Key soft skills: communication, problem solving, creativity, collaboration, initiative, time management, detail orientation

Robert’s Answer

Updated Woodstock, Georgia

HI Ben,

I studied advertising in school, and began my career in the field. I was fortunate to get a couple internships prior to graduating- that helped me make contacts in the industry. So when I graduated, I was a step ahead and was able to land a position fairly quickly.

Some thoughts below.

Hope this helps.

Best of luck.


Robert recommends the following next steps:

  • Cozy up to your instructors and see if they have contacts at agencies... that is how I got my internships. (I imagine also if your school has a focused advertising program, the placement office there can help too).
  • Scour the trade mags classified ads- and reach out to them and let them know you are graduating end of the year- see if there are any local internships that you could perhaps get now while you finish up school. Otherwise- just reach out to them, and let them know when you are graduating and see if they will consider now for when you complete your degree. It's rare, but it happens. :)
  • You may also want to expand your search to consider advertising/marketing roles on the client side vs the agency side. There are tons of these hidden positions available and is a great way to get into the workforce. From my experience, companies like to hire graduates, since they can train you the way they want you to perform these roles.

Scott’s Answer

Updated Houston, Texas

Read a book a week from this list:


Jeff’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

My number one piece of advice is that you need to secure at least one professional internship in an ad agency or a corporate marketing department prior to graduation. Not only will you gain real world experience it will be an almost essential step in your journey toward becoming an advertising professional. Also to be an account manager it is important that you have a well rounded education to include a mix of business, marketing and communications courses and experiences. Get involved in on campus ad club and or a like organization.

Megan’s Answer


Hi there,

I would recommend getting a sales internship at university as a great starting point. Post university, a lot of tech organisations have roles called SDRs (also sales development representatives, BDR, business development representative, ADR, account development representative, etc.). Here is an example: https://adobe.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/external_experienced/job/San-Mateo/Sales-Development-Representative_76586. You can find roles like this in advertising technology companies, as well as agencies.

This is a very good entry level role to pivot to a successful career in account management, sales, customer success, management, or marketing!

Megan recommends the following next steps:

  • Look into what requirements would be relevant and try to align your internships with these!