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How Staying Connected Helped Me Start a Career in Advertising

Earlier this week I received my daily BeHappy quote #21157:

    “All our dreams can come true. If we have the courage to pursue them.”

                                                            Walt Disney

This quote instantly reminded me of how we all have the power to create whatever future we can dream of. When I first graduated from university, I knew I wanted to work in marketing. My first job however, was as far away from that goal as possible, so I spent every moment outside of work meeting with as many people in the industry as I could. After ten months of keeping in touch with different leads, I landed my first job as a marketing coordinator and have never looked back.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked from recent grads is “how can I get into the industry?”. I almost always respond with the need to get out there as much as possible. The advertising industry has a way of sifting through those who aren’t genuinely interested. It’s competitive, cutthroat and fast paced. You have to do your legwork. Part of that legwork requires exposing yourself to as many opportunities as possible to meet, learn, and ask questions from people already in the game. Though this strategy is what I used to get my foot in the door, its core principles can be applied across a number of industries. How you ask? Here are some of my tried, tested and true tips & tricks:

  • Attend an Informational Interview – In many cases, companies frequently hold informational interviews. It’s a great chance to ask questions and learn more about a place where you might want to work. Often the HR department can help you get connected with the right person.
  • Seek Out a Recruiter – Once your resume is up to date, consider meeting with a recruiter. A good recruiter will know how to match your experience and skills with a potential job opportunity. They also have unique access to positions that might not be publicly posted yet.
  • Consider an Internship –  An internship is a great way to get exposed to how a company really works. Although it might be little to no pay, consider making it short term or, offering your skills to a company free of charge. The tradeoff is the exposure you’ll get and the potential to build a relationship with people who are familiar with your work ethic when it comes time for hiring.
  • Network – Find local groups or associations that are in line with your interests. Volunteer if you can’t afford a membership. Connect with people and let them know what you have to offer. Learn their story, take them out for lunch and most of all…
  • Never leave empty handed –If you’re going to an informational interview, ask for a follow up contact. Someone you can keep in touch with about future opportunities. If you’re connecting with a recruiter, set up weekly email check-ins. If you take someone out for lunch, ask for a networking group or contact they might recommend connecting with. Keep the trail going until you find what you’re looking for.

Not every connection you make is going to be great. Pick and choose the people you connected well with, showed an interest, or might align with your personal values. One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve had is to make sure there is always an open line of communication that will allow you stay top of mind.

I believe the courage to pursue your dream is tied directly to persistence and hard work. The thing about dreams is that they are almost always likely to change. The more you expose yourself to what the dream looks like, the more you can piece together a reality of what your version might be. I truly believe that there is no way you can fail if you continue to connect yourself with every opportunity possible. It comes down to the math, really. The probabilities are in your favor that something will come up the more connections you make. With every person you meet, you’ll start to see opportunities to get that much closer to making your dream a reality. All it takes is the courage, and persistence to try.

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