I’m a senior in the digital advertising program at Louisiana State University, and graduation is dauntingly close. In classes, we’re working on projects for real clients, and we have agency representatives visit us. Yet, many of my classmates and I are anxious about getting a job after we get our diploma. So during my Friday @ 4 presentation, I took advantage of my position as an intern to get some solid advice from my talented coworkers for students like me.
Paige, the social and digital media strategist at X, is a recent graduate from the LSU digital advertising program. Her advice is to talk to as many people as you can in the industry, whether they’re teachers, people at your internship or other graduates. It’s all about who you know.
Get involved in LSU Advertising Federation or other organizations if you aren’t already. This is how Tiffanie, the art director at X, made connections with local creative directors and printer representatives when she was at LSU.
Designers at X suggest a good variety of high-quality work in your portfolio. Only put pieces you love in your portfolio, and don’t include an overwhelming amount of pieces. Be able to talk about each item, and take ownership of your work.
Vitalija, a graphic designer, gave me this advice: Don’t rush.
When thinking about graduation, you might get in the frenzy of finding a job. Take the time to find a job that you really like. You’re going to spend about eight hours a day at that job, so you should love it. Once you get to the interview, create a dialogue. Interview the interviewer. You want to be at a job where you’re growing. You’re in an intense self-education mode for the first 10 years of your career. It’s important to consider questions like: Will you be mentored? Will there be training? Will the job allow you to pursue certain projects?
Don’t be disheartened if that job offer isn’t what you expect. It’s not uncommon for entry-level workers in the ad industry to work on a trial basis. Most people that work at X started out as interns or working part-time. An interview lasts about an hour, and often that’s not enough time to find out if someone is a good fit. Be open to this.
The ad industry is always evolving, especially when it comes to digital. I asked my coworkers for advice for those who want to work in social media, web development and technology.
Michael, a web developer at X, said that you are a constant student when you are in this field. It’s easier to keep up than catch up, so you should regularly read and learn about your industry.
We have a poster in the office that says that a social media expert does not exist. Paige explained that social media is always changing. You’re never going to be a master at it. You have to roll with it. Everyone else is learning with you, too. As you’re learning, it’s important to teach others about it. That’s why the Xdesign team blogs about new changes. The best way to learn something is to teach someone else.
Tiffanie suggests following other brands and people in the industry to stay up-to-date in what they’re doing. Learn how other people are pushing limits. Know what’s out there. It makes you rethink what you’re doing, and it allows you to challenge yourself.
Vitalija suggests learning about other industries, too. It’s good to have other passions; it makes you well-rounded. You want to be educated outside of your scope so that your scope broadens.
Practice constantly. It makes you better. Like Malcolm Gladwell says, 10,000 hours is the magic number of greatness.
According to my coworkers, advice is not an order. Don’t take every piece of advice. Take what you like. Disagree. What works for someone else might not work for you. Take everything with a grain of salt.