45 flat whites: How to break into advertising

This passionate strategist shares some job-searching tips for college grads heading into adland.

Leading a life among the Mad Men doesn’t have to be a Netflix dream: 746 job applications and 45 flat whites later, I’m here to hook you up with tips that’ll leave you producing Super Bowl spots in no time. College grads, take heed!

1.  LinkedIn > Instagram 

Landing a full time job IS a full-time job, so a deep investment is crucial. LinkedIn should be your most-frequently used app, above Instagram or TikTok, and prioritize connections over curations. Pay for that monthly LinkedIn Premium membership if it will hold you more accountable!

2.  Frame your past to better brand your future

Decide what your end goal is before creating that sheet of paper, and make sure that every job, internship, or volunteer trip abroad serves as another proof point toward that dream career. Want to be a cookie baker when you grow up? Every internship better be about learning how to bake. From the friendly intro paragraph to the meaty job descriptions, your culinary thesis should be woven in seamlessly. Nothing should feel random or unrelated; if your parents forced you to intern at a science lab, describe why that summer made you a better, more competitive cookie eater (perhaps labs taught you the importance getting the ingredients right!)

Think of your resume as one cohesive story, with every experience just another chapter toward the plot’s ultimate peak: the day you get hired. 

Still lost? Find a copywriter - they’re objectively the best at words. Fancy resume templates available on Canva at no cost! Sexy resumes will make you feel like a more confident applicant.

3. Email harder than Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election

Emails will always win the popular vote. Sending your resume into a talent acquisition portal is like flicking it into outer space: a quiet, boundless abyss with no promise of return. You’ve stalked your ex boyfriends before, so put on your FBI hat and find those emails. Whether it’s the CMO or an entry level designer, find anyone at your dream company and email them at once. Please don’t wait until next week. Is it forward? Absolutely. Is it obnoxious? Not if you do this:

Approach people as though they’re a mix between God and Beyonce, with the cognition that you are not worth five seconds of their time (and you’d be fortunate if they open your email). Yes, it’s a cruel reality, but your future employers have far more important things to be doing than answering your generic "Good Afternoon" emails. 

Draft emails with the same attentiveness and personality as you would for Queen B. Don’t copy and paste their company values into your gmail note; rather, get on their office instagram account and point out how much you love their ice cream Fridays, or Halloween costume dog competition. Show them your favorite creative briefs, your favorite digital activations, or your favorite PR stunts. Tell them what you think you can provide for them, and give them a sense of how you critically see the world.

4. Follow up if they ghost you 

These aren’t frat boys on campus. Follow up politely and remind them that your outstanding coffee offer still awaits. Attach a PDF of the local coffee shop menu and tell them to pick their drink of choice…because you’ll be bringing it when your meeting gets on the calendar! Lattes are way more personable than a "can I pick ur brain 4 a sec?" (I bought like, 45 flat whites during my job search. The salary in exchange proved to be a reasonable ROI).

5. Thank u, next

Can we make thank you notes cool again? Take notes during interviews; did they mention anything that could trigger a creative gesture? Like restaurants that include mints with receipts, leave potential employers with a similarly refreshing take-away. Did you have a coffee with a Houston Rockets fan? Write a thank you note ON a basketball, and remind them that "the ball is now in (their) court." Establish analytical capabilities by sending coffee-take-aways as key note presentations. Display that art-director vibe by framing a post-coffee selfie next to an open spot for the selfie you’ll take when you get hired. 

6. A tip from my mother: Bring work examples 

I always rolled my eyes when mom suggests bringing in a writing sample, because like, what is this, 2002? Turns out to be wickedly brilliant because employers will always impressed that you came prepared. Honestly, it gives them something to do during an interview instead of hardcore grill you, and they can watch you brag about your sweetest stuff.

And finally: Ambivalence is more unattractive than a bad interview outfit

Your passion needs to be bleeding out of you. Use stronger and more decisive verbs; don’t say "I’m intrigued by strategy," say, "Strategy pushes me to think about the world with critical optimism." Be assertive about where you see yourself, and find the person who you want to become in five years. Email them and tell them that. Ask how to do it in three. 

Carly Goldberg is a strategist at Ogilvy on the IBM team.

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