So You Want to Go Into Advertising: Sailing The Seas Of Post-College Life

By April 20, 2017Education, Marketing
Jessica Jones, Walz Tetrick Advertising, Post-College Life

Personal anecdotes, nautical puns and hard-earned perspective for college graduation season

In spring of 2012, the final semester of my senior year, panic had officially set in. Actually, it moved in months before. “Panic” was practically a roommate, a non-rent-paying, elephant-sized roommate, constantly reminding me of the all-too-frequently-asked question: “So…what are your plans after college?”

As a student, you have an obligatory “go-to” answer for this. Because, let’s face it, no one really knows. You have an idea, and a random dual minor in philosophy or anthropology (or some other –ology), but otherwise you’re left to navigate the uncharted waters of post-college life armed with your degree in X to find your career in Y.

I felt prepared for the real world according to technical standards. I was on track to graduate. I had my art minor and my mass communications major because I wanted to “go into advertising.”

Looking back, did I know the full extent of what “going into advertising” meant?

My honest answer — no. I had no idea.

“Going into Advertising”

Ron Weasley and Post College Life panic

My unwelcome roommate Panic had moved in (did I mention he also doesn’t do dishes?) when I began reviewing job descriptions. With little to no professional experience in a world where every job required at least 3-5 years of relevant work, where did my mountain of credit hours and my tenure as an Applebee’s hostess get me?

Having recently had the opportunity to speak with current college students and reflect on my own journey, I realized that “going into advertising” was and still is this incredibly vague concept that needs some explaining. With a bit more insight and the perspective of my fellow colleagues, I set out to demystify it and provide some insider secrets for job and internship seekers.

Charting Your Course

Boat on rough waters, skilled sailors, charting your course, Walz Tetrick

When sailing the seas of post-college life, it’s useful to look at the primary components to nautical navigation.

1. Locate your position
2. Create a route with bearings
3. Determine a reciprocal course
4. Navigate to your destination

While most of us have never captained a ship, navigating the professional landscape is a bit like it. The necessary steps seem straightforward. You pick a college. You study. You join extracurricular activities. You pray for a passing grade in your “Dinosaur Age of Extinction” class to complete that last science credit standing between you and your degree. You graduate. You get a job …


Advertising is a vast space filled with advertising firms, vendors (from video production studios to billboard companies), freelancers, publications, media outlets, “creatives,” executives and so on. Each of these areas can be broken down even further to niche specialties.

Marketing profs will tell you, “Advertising is just one component, or subset, of marketing. Public relations, media planning, product pricing and distribution, sales strategy, customer support, market research and community involvement are all parts of comprehensive marketing efforts. Advertising includes direct mail, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, Internet and out of house (billboards).”

Launch Prep

Knowing where to start can be overwhelming. So back to nautical navigation.

1. Locate your position
As a college student, this is fairly simple. You’re at port ready to set sail. In other words, you’re at the beginning of your journey.

2. Create a route with bearings
Be able to “triangulate” your strengths, talents, interests and even your dislikes. Be general. It’s hard to know specific likes and dislikes until you’ve really spent some time in the industry.

For example:
• Do you enjoy presenting?
• Do you prefer to be busy rather than bored?
• Do you like creative challenges?
• Do you thrive under tight deadlines?
• Do you enjoy working in a team?

3. Determine a reciprocal course
Don’t be afraid to deviate from your charted course. Be flexible. Every job is a learning experience. You’ll find true north, but it takes time and meeting the right people who will help you along the way.

4. Navigate to your destination
Try to avoid plotting your ultimate destination before you’ve even lifted anchor. Over time you’ll set new goals for yourself and have a better idea of areas of areas of interest. Learn from every course change along the way.

Standing Out in a Sea of Hopefuls

Stay up on trends: Read! No matter what side of the advertising world you are on, it’s important to be able to provide insight and recommendations to your clients and be able to speak to industry trends.

Talk to people: Meet everyone. Advertising is an incredibly small industry in terms of size, but large in terms of all the area it covers. Chances are, people you work with at your first job will pop up again down the road in a different capacity. Don’t burn any bridges!

Build your personal brand: A key way to stand out (especially as a college student) without a lot of professional experience is to be unapologetically yourself.

Presentation skills: Whether you’re interviewing, presenting to a client or simply talking to your boss, know how to effectively and confidently present your thoughts and ideas.

Client facing: Practice talking to people with a client-facing mindset. This could be working your part-time job and dealing with a difficult customer. It’s good practice.

Sail, Sail, Sail

Origami Birds, Creative Advertising agencies, setting sail, Walz Tetrick

Planning your career straight from college is a bit like Googling how to sail a boat. Prepare the best you can, but know it takes practical application and guidance to truly learn the ropes.

More Tips + Inspiration

• 9 Tips for Landing Your First Job at an Advertising Agency, Adweek
• How Social Media Posts are Just Like an Elevator Pitch, Weber Shandwick
• Unique Ways to Get an Advertising Agency Internship, Media Bistro
• How to Get a Job In Advertising, Media Bistro
• 5 Ways You Can Use Social Media to Get an Internship, Mindset Digital
• The Do’s and Don’ts of Landing Your First Job…In Advertising, Brighton Agency

Jessica Jones joined Walz Tetrick in February 2016. Navigating the seas as an Account Executive within the gaming category, she’s learned all about lucky streaks — even winning the 2016 office Bracket Challenge and 2017 office Dip Off. Earlier this year, she embarked on her maiden voyage into acting, starring in a local radio commercial.