As many of you know, I teach a portfolio class at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Two of my 2013 students, Priscilla Cutri and Olivia Maramara were hired as Junior Copywriters on my team. This week I asked them to write a guest blog post. “Tell everyone what the real world is like,” I said. “Give them tips on what they should know, things they don’t tell you in school.”
Below are 5 thoughts. I think they have an incredible insight on what it means to be successful at a large advertising agency. If they follow their own advice, they can go very far. Enjoy.
You may think you’re ready for the proverbial “real world” once you graduate. Let us save you some time: you’re not. There’s so much more to this industry than designing three posters and an app.
You’re not a team player until you understand there’s no such thing as “my idea”; your great work ethic will be put to the test when your boss asks you to stay late; and your communication skills are challenged when your partner doesn’t like your brilliant concept. This is the real world, kids, and you have to prepare yourselves. Here’s what you should know:
1. DO WHAT YOU’RE PAID TO DO. THEN DO MORE.
Come in early. Stay late. Work weekends. Drink a gallon of coffee. Eat a bag of stale honey wheat pretzel sticks for lunch at 4:13PM. In school we were told all the time that this was the industry standard. We saw Mad Men. It was the “pitfall” of advertising, yet we all so badly wanted to be Don Draper. Here’s the thing: when you love what you do, you lose track of time, and 9pm doesn’t seem so bad.
Ask, “Can I help with anything?” Ask a hundred times. Bother people. Be proactive about learning and work on everything you can get your hands on.
Be that copywriter who can draw or the art director that can write. Don’t let your job description define your abilities. Show off. The more valuable you can make yourself, the more people will want you on their team.
2. GET WEIRD
Lose your inhibitions. This leads to creativity, which is why we’re all at this party in the first place.
Say your worst ideas out loud. Every bad idea has the potential to drive the thought process to an insanely brilliant idea. Don’t be afraid to get weird. And don’t think for a second that everyone else isn’t weird, too.
3. SPREAD YOUR LITTLE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY WINGS
Don’t be shy. Working in a large agency, you tend to regularly see a face you don’t recognize. Change that. Say hi to everyone in the hallway/break room/elevator/restroom. Chances are they won’t bite. Even better chances are that you’ll make really important connections.
Hit up happy hour. Connections are easier to make in a more casual environment. And it’s okay to have a beer with coworkers. Just don’t get up on the bar to do the robot.
4. BE TIGHT WITH YOUR SQUAD
Find your team synergy. Eat/work late/laugh/stress together + make weird nicknames for each other + have each other’s backs = create amazing work together.
Get excited about your stuff. Present your team’s ideas as if they’re going to change the world. 50% of the creative process is convincing other people that your idea will work. 100% of convincing people is believing in it.
5. FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF
Make choices based on your own opinions. Don’t listen to anyone when they tell you healthcare is boring or something is not for you. Experience it for yourself, and then decide.
Believe that you’re an adult. You may not feel like one, but you’re getting paid and trusted to be. The only way people will take you seriously is if you take you seriously. And that doesn’t mean you can’t break the rules once in a while, because let’s face it—everyone loves a badass.
[Priscilla Cutri + Olivia Maramara]