How to Navigate a Career Fair

by Candace Queen, Associate Art Director, DigitasLBi 

Career fairs can induce a barrage of emotion: excitement, anticipation, hope, anxiety, nervousness, the urge to bolt out the door. At my first career fair that’s exactly what I did, I walked in, took one look around at the organized chaos and walked right back out. It’s been some time since then, and I’ve learned a few things that have helped position me where I’m at today.

  1. Be intentional. The biggest disservice that you can do to yourself, is attend a career fair without knowing about the companies, the activities happening throughout the day or the audience that the career fair is catering to. I urge you to check out the list that AAF is providing, do some research, identify the agencies that are doing work that you admire and target those. Additionally, explore agencies that you may not be familiar with and probe the recruiters with questions.
  2. Consider volunteering. Each time I attended a career fair hosted by AAF, I volunteered. It gave me an entirely different experience compared to the times where I just showed up and pitched myself. As a volunteer you get to help behind the scenes, you’re a constant face for recruiters in need of setting up or just knowing which way the restroom is. I had longer conversations with them because I could get into the exhibition room ahead of everyone else, without distractions. By my 4th career fair, I was pretty well known and it played a huge role in being selected for my first agency internship. Continue Reading →

1st to 1st: Alix’s Story

by Alix Montes, Account Executive, Ketchum

First day of undergrad to first day of entry-level…how I transitioned from college to the real-world.

The time between your 1st day of freshmen year and your 1st day of your entry level job is one of the most transformational periods of your life. By the time you start your first entry level position, you will have absorbed more knowledge than at any other point in your life to date. Between intellectual growth, learning about relationships, discovering yourself and challenging yourself in ways you never would have imagined. The end of college is an exhilarating time. It’s also an intimidating time. During this transition, you will learn a lot of things. Some of these lessons you might welcome, while others may come as surprise. I recently reflected on three of the important lessons I learned and how to act on them to set yourself up for success.

You Know More Than You Think
Life after college is full of humbling experiences, this is especially true of your first post-graduate position. In a few months of navigating a corporate setting and an independent life as an adult, you will realize there is a lot you don’t know. However, over time you will realize that you know more than you think. Continue Reading →

1st to 1st: Abu’s Story

by Abu Ngauja, Senior Brand Manager, Venables Bell & Partners

First day of undergrad to first day of entry-level…how I transitioned from college to the real-world.

I think a lot of times in life you’ll find yourself in a situation just like the one I’m in now —  coaxed by an invisible force, an almost physical sensation, as real as the pebble rattling in the pit of a stomach or the stinging pressure behind they eyes. Like someone is pushing you deep and stern at the small of your back. Precise. Unwavering.

You’ll never quite be able to place what it is, or why it comes when it comes, but I’d like to think that it’s a feeling struggling to be understood – one you’ll never quite find the words to explain until you’re in the moment it truly surfaces. Continue Reading →

Stand Out on LinkedIn

by Jake Quintanilla, Account Executive, FCBChicago

From Beginner to All-Star: Key Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Appeal

Welcome to the professional world. By this point, you are preparing to trade in late nights studying for late nights at the office. This is also the time to establish yourself and get your information in front of recruiters. What better way to do that than LinkedIn.

As most of you know, LinkedIn is the professional’s social media. It’s where recruiters, colleagues, business leaders and more, come for information about you. This is one way for them to see if you are the right fit for their company.

With all those recruiters looking at you, the next question is how do I make the best first impression? And, how do I know if my LinkedIn page is good? Continue Reading →

Success U

Career Prep Week: Taking You from Ad Student to Industry Pro

Success U is a week-long, virtual crash course that helps college students get ready for their future. It provides valuable insights into the worlds of advertising and marketing and allows students to make connections and even find job opportunities that will help propel their advertising careers. The week includes webinars, social media engagement and a career fair.

SuccessU_Schedule    SuccessU_Blog


4 Steps to Cracking the Ad Industry

By Sara Mahmood

Choosing advertising as a major in school is a lot easier than actually entering the industry after graduation. With the hope of recruitment, the college experience for seniors is filled with resume revisions, portfolio reviews and interviews. In addition to a fear of rejection, there is a level of anxiety that protrudes when students think about what life post-grad might look like if the ideal job is not secured. Although the advertising industry can be difficult to enter, possibilities do exist for those who are persistent in their efforts to find opportunities. These four steps can serve as a guideline for current students and recent graduates looking to achieve their first real world advertising opportunity

  1. Do not shy away from asking for career starting advice. Start by speaking to professors and visiting the career center on campus. These resources can help connect students with alumni and community leaders. Speaking with current professionals is the best way to learn about the culture of local agencies along with any internship or entry-level positions that might be available. Alumni were once students; they can easily relate to the experiences of current students and are often willing to share their career insight.
  2. Be focused. Note that advertising is a multi-faceted term that can include different career paths, ranging from media to creative and account management. It’s best to have a focus or area of interest within advertising–an area of interest helps recruiters in connecting students with informational interviews and relevant open positions. Through professional organizations like the American Advertising Federation, a series of student competitions are hosted on a yearly basis. Having a focus, such as creative or account planning can help students to build skill sets and a portfolio while still enrolled in school.
  3. Maintain realistic expectations about compensation in advertising. Conduct research about employment packages and know about the average lifestyle and wages for jobs within advertising. An assistant media planner will not necessarily earn the same amount as a junior copy writer or assistant account executive. Knowledge about benefits, salary and bonuses will enable students to best match their desired lifestyle with the resources provided by entry- level positions and internships within the industry.
  4. Stay open-minded. Entry-level jobs in advertising are limited and highly sought after. In order to build professional experience, consider taking an internship, even after graduation. Agencies often hire interns as full-time entry-level positions become available. Through an internship, both the student and agency can test each other to see if there is a good fit.

Adding ‘senior’ in front of most titles, from media planner to copy writer, can create an allure of authority and reflect substantial professional experience. While senior titles at work often reflect hierarchy and evidence of career advancement, the senior stage in college is just a starting point for building the foundations of a career. Although the final year of school puts students in senior rank within close proximity to graduation, the employment prospects are not always as straight forward. Having the confidence to ask for career starting advice, placing focus on an area of interest, knowledge about industry compensation along with an open mind can help ease the transition from student to working professional.

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.