Start an Advertising Career

The red hot popularity of the "Mad Men" television drama has many people excited about exploring their options in the advertising industry. Jobs in advertising encompass everything from copywriting and creative development to selling, graphic design and media production. If you would like to pursue an advertising career, let these tips get you started.

  • At the high school and college level, take as many courses as possible in design, media, communications and graphics, and build your portfolio by working in any aspect of advertising for school publications.
  • Both large and small agencies often offer unpaid internship opportunities while you are still earning your degree or during summers to help you get your foot in the door. Internships also have the advantage of exposing you to many different departments within the agency.
  • An entry level job outside your area of interest is often a good way to enter this field. You may want to be a graphic designer, but start as a junior copywriter or receptionist. You will still be meeting the major players and be among the first to know when new openings arise.
  • Those with skills in copywriting and graphic design often break into the field by offering their services on a freelance basis. This is a good way to build your advertising portfolio and let a variety of potential full-time employers get a taste of your talents.
  • Make Spec Ads, ads you have developed on your own based on a currently running ad campaign for a product, part of your resume package to show a potential employer your creativity in creating an ad using both words and design.
  • Don't limit your job search to advertising agencies. Often public relations agencies have an advertising division, and many non-profit organizations, private companies as well as large corporations have an in-house department specializing in advertising that might need your talents.
  • Often your best first contact at any agency or company is the Creative Director. Call and ask exactly who that person is, then write them a letter with your resume and follow up to request a brief meeting. Don't ask them for a job, but ask to pick their brain about the best ways you can pursue a career in advertising.
  • Are there local branches of national advertising trade associations, such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies in your area? Find out if they have a job bank or meetings that you can attend as a guest, then network, network, network.

If a career in advertising is on your radar, enthusiasm and persistence will get you your first job and your first account.


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