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Is advertising a hard job area to get into?

I am planning to major in a study that will help me land in an advertising career. #job #advertising #first-job

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John’s Answer

Meredith, whether you're still in school and ready to launch your advertising career you need to know exactly what to expect, and that can vary greatly depending upon what role you want to fulfill in an agency and which area of advertising you want to work in.


All too often, inspired advertising is not produced in a traditional working week. Be prepared for long nights, weekends and a whole lot of rejection. The creative work is the heart and soul of any ad agency. It's the product. Which means it has to be great work. It's also subjective, so a great idea to one person is a complete head-scratcher to another. That means that, unlike an accountant, there are no right or wrong answers. You are at the whim of the creative director, who is at the whim of the client.


CREATIVITY – When it comes to advertising campaigns, there are often no right or wrong answers. The best agencies are those who think outside the box and do things as they were not done before. Great creative individuals who are not afraid to go out on a limb and experiment with what might even appear to be “crazy” ideas. They are not afraid to fail because when those ideas connect, they know it could be a winning strategy.

ENGERY – The best agency professionals are also those who light up a room with their ideas, creativity, and pure energy. These are people who are passionate about what they do and aren’t afraid to show it. They come to work bursting with enthusiasm. If you don’t love what you do and can’t wait to go to work every day, then it probably isn’t your thing. This is especially true for marketing.

INTUITION – The best creative people are also those who have their finger on the pulse of their audience. You can only give your audience what they want if you know what they want. The good marketer is one who knows what his or her audience wants and is not afraid to give them exactly that. But it’s the more nuanced understanding of the audience that distinguishes the mediocre from the best in this field.

TEAMWORK – In the end, advertising is not an individuals game. It takes teamwork to succeed in your advertising campaign. You will be working with several teams including creative, sales, finance and logistics to successfully sell your product or service. You should be able to work on your own and most importantly, as part of a team in order to succeed as an advertising agency professional.

EGO – The Client is Always Right! Something you will discover very quickly is that money is power in advertising. With the exception of the powerhouse ad agencies—the clients have all the money and most of the power. So, be prepared to have your 120 creative ideas flushed down the toilet in favor of a Frankenstein's monster of an ad that the client designed with their daughter and the babysitter the night before your BIG presentation.

These days, just like any other profession, it's all about working hard and making money. Keep your head down, and it's a fantastic and rewarding career that can take you all around the world, so if you're a social wallflower, advertising is not for you.

There's more to life in advertising than just doing the work. Advertising is part of pop culture. To be good at it you have to immerse yourself in it. Which means that, as a good ad agency employee, you will involve yourself in many extra-curricular activities that expand your mind and your horizons.

Hope this was helpful Meredith

Below are some things that will help stay current and expand your horizons.

John recommends the following next steps:

Read interesting and diverse books and magazines outside of the industry
Write a blog
See more than the usual movies
Take up some interesting hobbies
Take vacations that expand your mind

Thank You YoonJi. Doing more than we have to because we love volunteering and Giving Back. John Frick

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Devin’s Answer

Advertising is a fun, fast, creative industry to enter. You have the opportunity to work on numerous projects at once with different clients and different project requirements. If you like your day and projects to vary then it's a great space to get into.

My biggest advice if wanting to enter into advertising includes three things:
- Take advertising-specific classes. A lot of advertising won't be classes with test, it will be project-based. Make sure you take those and get in-class experience with professors who really know the market for advertising.
- Build your portfolio: make sure you have examples of creative pieces, writing, strategy, etc. A diverse portfolio is a huge strength when entering ad. (taking advertising classes will help jump start your portfolio!)
- Experience is key! Apply for internships and do as many as you can throughout college. Test out what you like, boutique firm vs large ad agency, in-house advertising (working internally at a company, doing only their advertising) vs. agency advertising (working on multiple client accounts at an external firm). Internships really get your foot in the door and if you excel, you often get job offers after college.

Advertising is a lot about networking and referrals. It's helpful to talk to as many people and network to help you get internship or job offers too.

Good luck!

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Abby’s Answer

Masha gave some really great advice, especially as someone who studied something different from advertising. I think it is really important to be entrepreneurial for someone in marketing. Even if you don't have specific experience in marketing or advertising, it's a great idea to offer help or to volunteer your time for a local business or non profit to gain experience in communication and working with others. I've definitely met people who studied something completely different and still ended up in marketing. For example, I got to know someone who studied geology in college, and when it came time to look for jobs, he was able to clearly define what kind of role he wanted to play in marketing and how his experience set him apart from other candidates.
I think that you'll find in a lot of marketing environments, a lot of agencies want to know you have good skills but also that you're an interesting person to work with and that you bring fresh ideas to the table. I definitely agree with the advice above on doing research and making sure you can articulate your story. Don't be worried if you don't perfectly fit the typical marketing/advertising major profile in order to get into advertising!

Abby recommends the following next steps:

Sign up for newsletters such as AgencySpy from Adweek to understand the industry
Follow We Are Next, which is a great resource for young professionals interested in marketing and advertising

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Masha’s Answer

I've been in marketing for 15 years and my degree was actually in molecular biology. I don't know if having advertising/marketing focused major would have helped me, I actually think the background I have taught me how to be data-driven, what statistics means, and encouraged creativity in the process. I believe, you can get any degree you like and eventually pivot into advertising as long as you work on your creativity, understand data (the amount of data analysis I had to do in advertising was a lot more than I expected), and are open to learning quickly.

To get into the advertising industry, I'd recommend volunteering in advertising agencies, finding people you know who are in the industry and offering them help in exchange for learning opportunities, following advertising thought leaders on LinkedIn and reading about the latest news and trends in the industry. Once you do all that, start looking for internships in marketing/advertising.

Hope this helps!

Masha recommends the following next steps:

Follow advertising gurus on LinkedIn
Sign up for Google keyword alerts, such as "advertising news", "latest in marketing", "marketing trends", etc.
Talk to your friends and family to see if they know anyone in the industry you could talk to
Volunteer and offer help to people/agencies in advertising

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Emesha’s Answer

Hi Meredith, great questions, it's not necessarily hard to get into advertising but you will need a marketing or advertising degree and some experience, consider applying for a marketing/advertising internship. If you are creative and enjoy writing or creating designs than advertising just might be a wonderful career choice. Keep mind if you choose a career in advertising starting out may not be glamourous- tight deadlines, high pressure environment, long hours, working weekends and low pay at first are few things to consider. The goal is to get your foot in the right door, work hard and grow. Best of luck, check out the articles below for more information.



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Candy’s Answer

No, I think it is not too hard to start your career in advertising industry. If you a outgoing person, advertising is a lot about networking and referrals. It's helpful to talk to many people and network to help you get internship or job offers too.
People in advertising have a wide range of skills, especially strong communication skills which are required in many different kinds of jobs within the advertising industry. Advertising is usually paid for by sponsors and viewed through various media such as websites, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising, or direct mail. An advertising firm might create advertising campaigns for various clients, or for one company.
So, you may take some related course to develop your career.

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Charles’s Answer

No. As long as you educate yourself to be multifaceted and your willing to work hard it shouldn't be. Plus there are lots of jobs within the industry from sales, creative, analysts, web, tv, print, social media, etc. whether for a agency doing handling large national accounts or a local direct agency or tv station. in the end its about selling products and services.

I can tell you that bigger agencies are not always necessarily better. While a large agency may have you working on things with a large scope, control over your work will be less do to more layers of people. Also many agencies hire teams of people to handle certain major accounts, but when those accounts switch companies for a different company, sometimes people are laid off.

small to medium sized places may have you working on small accounts and the perks of big agencies like beer tastings, free lattes, or bands playing concerts in your office will not be there. But smaller places tend to be more diversified with their accounts and therefore perhaps more job security. In those places ypu maybe wearing different hats, and find the workload more, but at the same time more freedom or autonomy in your work. As many times in ANY thing involving advertising is approval by committees.

Charles recommends the following next steps:

Study marketing especially social media.
Learn the creative end of storytelling in various mediums. Print, web, video. Consider what your niche you would like to persue.
Learn about marketing from consumer analytics. How people think, what drives there purchases. There usually an emotional reason behind it all.
Get internships and takd them as serious as a paid job. Getting a job is about networking. Be a fun person to be around who gets stuff done and goes extra mile. Ask questions and be interested in what others do. If you're helping someone out, always be two steps ahead in what they might need help with. Think of it as the nurse who hand the scalpal to the doctor before he asks for it.
Diversify your education and skills. Avoid debt in college. It racks up quickly and will control what you do for years afterwards.

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Ryan’s Answer

Yes – there’s an appeal to advertising that create a lot of demand for jobs and internships. Best thing to do is think more broadly of pursuing a marketing job vs an advertising job.

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Youki’s Answer

I had worked in an advertising team for many years. It is super fun but challenging.
You can learn a lot of skills from this career, as well as keep learn something new.
Because the form of advertising is keep updating, so you will not feel boring.

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Will’s Answer

It's no harder than any other industry especially if it's your focus of study. Like just about any other area in order to break in don't limit yourself, i.e. only looking for account executive or copy or creative work. You'll have a better shot if you study and can do all the areas even if your dream is to be in creative you might have to start in another area or at least be able to have knowledge of more than one. Also you may have to consider a large market, while changing, many of the large firms are based in New York, Chicago and LA and while you can work just about anywhere those are going to be the main hubs for the industry in the US.

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Tram’s Answer

Advertising is a hard place - not so much to get in but more to stay in.
One quality you need to have is curiosity.

I think Charles gave you some very good tips so I will just add that you need to be open minded, interested by the world, the future, go to exhibits, meet people with different perspectives, try new things.

Advertising is a world of creativity and imagination.
You need to be on top of trends to be able to sense them and understand them.
As long as you're hungry you'll have the fulled to make your dream come true.

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Gina’s Answer

Doesn't have to be. Taking the right courses, being involved in media relations and takign advantage of internships will go a long way. You also may want to think about giving sales a try. Best way to diversify yourself, learn about a lot of businesses and have some job security-- especially these days.

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Amanda’s Answer

Hey Meredith,

I would highly suggest for you to land an internship in an advertising agency of at least 3 months. You would be able to touch on different advertising platforms and figure out if the fast paced and demanding environment is suited for you.

All the best!

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Robespierre’s Answer

Coming from my experience, I don't think it is a particularly hard field to get into. I've met many folks ay my agency that has come from non-media or marketing backgrounds. Myself included (I come from an Accounting background). Advertising is a very data-driven industry and revolves around client service and product selling. Something that will help anyone get into a start with advertising is aiming for an internship or entry-level job at a large national agency. One major piece of advice I can give is being curious is a huge benefit when starting off in advertising. There are so many levers and positions on just one account that it can get very overwhelming but also fun if you're someone who wants to learn about all the different disciples within Advertising (Social Media, Digital, Programmatic, TV, Search, Analytics, Planning, Strategy).

I think some strengths that will benefit someone who is looking to get into advertising, is the willingness to ask questions, how well they really absorb information, asking why things are the done the way they are and being very very detailed oriented (this goes a very long way when dealing with large scale budgets)