Perspectives from the Top

By Sara Mahmood (@CuriousSaraM)

The ‘ top’ is a favorable spot to be in, especially when the context is within the work place. As young professionals begin their job search and enter into their first positions, the highest titles are often in sight when thinking about the future. While high-end titles are attractive, the climb to the top spot is often longer than anticipated, especially by the millennial generation. Within advertising, fancy titles are abundant and each company has its own labels for career paths. When searching for jobs, students and recent graduates can easily become overwhelmed with the diversity in open advertising positions. To make matters more complicated, not every school offers an advertising degree. Some schools classify advertising under marketing while others place it within communications. As a result, individuals of various majors, including advertising, often filter through titles trying to find a match for their academic degree along with positions that sound desirable in title.

Through personal work experience in several global corporations, including Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Universal McCann, I have developed my own opinion about titles. At the internship and entry-level, in my opinion, titles do not matter as much as the experience provided by the functional group and company. While having a degree specific to advertising can be helpful in getting the first job, it isn’t the only variable appreciated by employers. Personal branding along with a portfolio and the ability to sell one’s self can be a strong force in opening doors for people, even if a degree specific to advertising isn’t in hand. Instead of spending too much time looking for jobs with certain titles, my suggestion to young professionals is to focus on an area of interest, with advertising, and to search for related positions.

While blogging during ADMERICA! 2013, the most requested topic of interest by young professionals was advice from leaders who have made it to the top in their respective advertising fields. Having the privilege of working for a global media agency, I reached out and received insight from Universal McCann leadership about advice to give young professionals.  Part of the gathered insight included answers about titles, job functions and college degrees. As a bonus, Jon, Elane and J.T., the senior leaders interviewed, also shared their biggest surprises about the entry level from their personal experiences.

 

Q&A: Jon Stimmel, EVP Managing Partner, Integrated Investment

What is your job function?

To spend our clients media dollars and achieve the most value at the best possible price.

What college did you attend and what did you major in?

Lehigh University, College of Business & Economics, Marketing

Strongest piece of advice to new young professionals?

Always strive to make your boss’ job easier.  That means taking things off their plate so you are working above your level and never make them have to manage you more than necessary.  It’s a successful motto in any job at any level.

Biggest surprise you experienced at the entry level?

How much fun work could be and how quickly my managers trained me and gave me important assignments to do.  Feeling the trust of people I respected at such a young age made me want to overdeliver on their expectations.  was also fortunate enough to work with people I still count as great friends today.

 

Q&A: Elane Beyrodt – SVP, Group Partner, Content & Experiences

What is your job function?

As part of the Custom Team, we are responsible for ideating, building and managing custom marketing programs with our media partners.  The goal is to find the best way to marry our brands’ assets and messages with those of our partners to create entertaining content that breaks through.

What college did you attend and what did you major in?

Boston College – Marketing

Strongest piece of advice to new young professionals?

Be proactive and aggressively learn about all facets of your business.  As a newbie, it’s important to know how your role fits into the big picture.  It will give you context for your work, as well as provide the necessary insight to guide your professional path.

Biggest surprise you experienced at the entry level?

That media is the most exciting first job you can have!  It is a dynamic industry that impacts and is relevant to everyone around you.  And it’s FUN!

 

Q&A: J.T. Compeau, Senior Manager, Research

What is your job function?

The best part of this job is that it cannot be encapsulated into a single function.  If I had to succinctly summarize: I contribute to a tremendously talented team that uses data and research (including custom projects we commission) to provide answers to clients’ most important measurement and business questions, as well as lend support to media and strategic planning teams.

What college did you attend and what did you major in?

Syracuse University, Dual Major (B.A.) in Psychology and Television, Radio & Film

Strongest piece of advice to new young professionals?

Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there and being visible.

Because this business is so multi-faceted, everyone has a perspective or skill set that adds value to projects that are internal or client-facing.  I’ve always had a passion for public speaking; I began in my college days at a student-run radio station, and continue to this day as an active member of Pacers Toastmasters in NYC.  The presentation and leadership skills I learned through my time at both organizations has been an invaluable tool for me, and I hope, an asset to any client or collaborator.

If you’re always looking for a new way to contribute, you’ll either sharpen the skills you know you have, or stumble on new ones you can develop – or if you’re lucky, both!

Biggest surprise you experienced at the entry level?

The biggest surprise was how much my opinion was valued.  Because I did not have any formal experience in advertising when I started working in the business, I thought that I would be just learning and not contributing as much until I gained some experience.  I soon discovered how collaborative media can be – they were truly interested in my thoughts as a consumer and as a junior colleague.

While each of the leaders interviewed work in different functions and hold various academic degrees, their collective advice to young professionals includes encouragement for enthusiasm, dedication, persistence and collaboration at the internship and entry levels in advertising. A positive work experience results from an individual’s willingness to learn and develop; not individually from just a title or degree.


saram
Sara Mahmood is a senior advertising student at Wayne State University and works part-time as a portfolio management associate (assistant media planner) at Universal McCann. She is also a member of the class of 2013 AAF Most Promising Minority Students, has served on the AAF Initiative Future Board and led her local AAF student chapter. Sara will serve as our student blogger at ADMERICA! Follow Sara on Twitter during the conference @CuriousSaraM and #FindSaraM for a chance to introduce yourself and get your photo taken for the AAF Instagram feed.

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