Or: Why some of my most successful friends were once baristas.
Remember that CareerBuilder ad - "You'll spend more time with your job than you will with your spouse. Choose wisely."
It must have been circa 2001*. Before the towers came down. I read it, poster-size, on an (inadequate) shelter up on the el platform waiting for the morning train. Great advice. Why don't more people think that way about work? Choosing your job is choosing your life.
Especially, as it turns out, your first job.
Here's the #1 mistake I see advertising and marketing newbies make:
They take a job in-category, but out of their interest area.
Biggest violator: Would-be strategists and account managers take a first job as an assistant or admin to someone who has the job they want someday.
The truth: The admin only moves into the big office in the movies. It's the Pretty Woman** story of work.
Second biggest violator: Could-be writers and designers take gigs as account coordinators, just to "get in the door."
The truth: There are few walls in this world higher than those between the right and left brain sides of agencies.
I totally get why any newbie would do it, though. College behind them; real life waiting. Unsatisfactory job market; lots of pressure to land somewhere. An agency with a great brand offers you a chance to join up? It's hard to say no.
But here's what you don't know yet: The work you do typecasts you. And, changing your brand is hard.
When you're looking for job #2, your resume is going to lie about you. It will say what you've done not who you are. And, getting people to listen so you can tell a new story ... not easy.
It's actually easier to pour coffee.
To take a job entirely out of category- one that people will instantly know was just a make-money-while-I-find-my-dream-job kind of gig.
And, do the work that gives your energy and inspiration on the side as a freelancer or volunteer to stay fresh.
Yep, you read that right - Advergirl says go live in your parents guest room and work at Starbucks. It's the best possible move for your ad career.
*That's right, the woman who can't remember the name of the restaurant she ate at last night, CAN remember the year and location that she first saw an advertisement almost a decade ago
**A 20-year-old movie reference that will like be lost on the very people I'm writing to because I'm too damn old to speak with the right context and nuance.***
*** Thinking I like this DFW-style footnoting. Troubling new blog feature?