When people hear that I work at an advertising agency, they (for a very short period) act like I have the most glamorous job in the world. They assume (thanks to AMC) that I’m constantly drinking whiskey during the day, that I wear party dresses to work and that my boss resembles Don Draper.
We all have a nostalgic perception of what advertising used to be like. I, for one, picture a time when men wore suits, TV was the new “it” thing and clients didn’t know the meaning of “pushing back”. I picture a time when I could have conquered the ad world with a tea-length dress and the reddest lipstick shade ever made.
And then I wake up and realize that’s just not the case anymore – not for me and not for you.
If you want to survive in an agency, you better bring more than ambition to the table.
As an entry level newcomer, it’s more likely that you’ll be in charge of spreadsheets and status reports than photo shoots and strategic revamps. While you picture yourself running meetings, in your first few months, you’ll be lucky if your bosses trust you enough to send out a client email without them having to read it first. I say this not to offend you, but to give you a realistic expectation of what people will expect during your first year so that you can prepare instead of falling on your face.
Fortunately, everything you need to know can be summed up in one word:
If – before sending anything to anyone – you remember to POOF, you’ll undoubtedly get through year one with flying colors.
Without further adieu, let me present everything an advertising newbie needs to thrive in the biz.
P is for Proofread
You cannot rely on spellcheck to cover any mistakes you may make. Both “but” and “butt” are actual words; spellcheck has no problem with you writing the latter in a document that’s being sent to your client. Do you know who will have a problem with it? Your boss.
O is for Offer
Do you want to know the reason you have a job? To ease your boss’ workload so he or she can work on higher-level projects. You have to create status reports because he or she doesn’t have the time to do it. Always offer to help on additional projects in any way you can. Not only will this make you look like a team player, but if you’re allowed to help, it will provide you the experience needed with more advanced projects that will help you come promotion time.
O is for Organize
Advertising has many moving parts. You’ll be working on projects that have various components, and you have to keep everything straight. Create folders on your desktop, in your email and on your desk. Do whatever it takes to know where everything is at all times – because you could be asked to find a random document at any moment.
F is for Format
When you’re creating any kind of document, make sure it looks good. Anything you send to your team or your clients is a reflection on you. If it looks sloppy, they’ll think you’re sloppy. You do not want them to think you’re sloppy.
POOF may sound silly.
But proofreading, offering to help, keeping everything organized and formatting presentation properly are what you must do to advance your career and earn having a newbie of your own to create status reports and spreadsheets for you.
And we both know that’s what you really want.