Whether you’re a uni student, a recent graduate or a creative/award school gun, breaking into the advertising industry is most likely going to be a challenging, eye opening yet extremely rewarding experience.

As an up and coming creative, I commonly get asked by aspiring art directors and copywriters if I have any tips, tricks or words of wisdom to help them get their foot in the door or unlock their dream job. From these recent questions, I decided to write a small article based on my experiences over the past few years in breaking into the industry. This article will hopefully give young creatives some insight and guidance for the upcoming journey they face. Everybody’s path is going to be different, but there is one thing we all have in common… we all once started at the bottom.

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1. Good things come to those who hustle.

The most common thing I remember hearing around young creatives or my fellow peers whilst studying was their grand plan to land a sweet internship when they have finished their degree or creative school of choice. Don’t get me wrong, in theory this is a cracker plan… but the advertising world is one competitive beast, so you should be looking to gain a head start or advantage wherever you can. If you’re in your final year of study, get networking. If you’re in a creative school, get networking. If you’re enrolling for a creative school, get networking. My point is, the sooner you start getting to know the industry and the people involved, the easier your transition will be. Industry nights like the MADC Presents (www.madc.com.au) are a great starting point for you to venture out and build new connections. These nights are also great to gain insight into some of the various trending topics or discussions that are currently happening in our industry. Some say that good things come to those who wait, but I personally think Lincoln was more accurate when he stated, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” So get out there and start showing people you know who and what you’re about

10-Feet-Tall---Lionel

2. Search for a boss, not a job.

One of the most important things in life and key factor to building the strongest foundation you possibly can in this industry is good guidance. If there is one thing you take away from the article, I want it to be this. I am fortunate enough to have been brought up with amazing guidance and support from my parents, granting me this early knowledge when I begun my first steps into the industry. You’re not going to be able to do everything straight away, so aligning yourself with the best people in the industry is going to boost your knowledge, skills and direction. Research is paramount. Start researching everyone and everything in regards to your desired field or direction. Sources like Campaign Brief (www.campaignbrief.com.au), Best Ads (www.bestadsontv.com) and AOTW (www.adsoftheworld.com) are great early starting points for young creatives to discover and keep up to date with. Getting to know these sources will not only keep you relevant, but also help you follow creatives and agencies that are of interest to you. It only feels like yesterday that I was in my bedroom with a pen, highlighter and notebook building my industry wish list of personnel and agencies I wanted to start working with. Stop thinking and start searching.

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3. Sparking Interest

 So you’ve smashed out a shitload of research, made a sick list of who’s who and have now narrowed your search on where and who you want to work with. Now (assuming you have your folio/book/website under control) is the time to get your foot in the door, even literally! Creative Directors are constantly flooded with emails, resumes, links and packages on a day-to-day basis from hungry creatives looking for a break. Whether you send an email, resume, link or package the only mandatory I can advise is to make it memorable. The best ads in the world are the most memorable. The best moments in life become the most memorable. So when it’s time to spark interest and connect with the industry, make it memorable. You’d be surprised what a little effort and thought can achieve.

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4. Persistence.

 A few days, weeks or possibly even months have gone by and you feel like you’re getting nowhere. The response hasn’t nearly been as strong as you initially thought it would be and old mate Doubt is starting to enter your mind. If you find yourself at this point, like many young creatives will, just remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve and definitely don’t get deterred. You want to be enthusiastic, driven and motivated but also not come on too strong or persistent. The key is to find the sweet spot and be smart about how you conduct yourself. Another good note is to always remember to follow up your calls, emails and invitations, as you never know whom you might bump into or what opportunity might arise in the future.

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5. Cutting your teeth.

The hustle may have been arduous, but you can see the beginnings of light at the end of the tunnel. After a few phone calls, interviews, day trials or even some sneaky gin, you’ve convinced the CD of your choice that you’re the man or woman for the job. If you haven’t heard of the saying to ‘cut your teeth’, it means getting your first experience of a particular type of work and learning the basic skills. Internships tend to spark many forms of opinion and debate amongst society and the industry, especially in regards to paid or unpaid work. The thing is, no matter what you read or whomever you speak to, opinions are always going to be divided. At the end of the day it comes down to you, your lifestyle and the benefit you believe you can gain from the agency you’re interning at. In my opinion, when you’re starting out and building a foundation for your career, experience is worth a great deal more than a money figure. Keep that one in mind.

Good luck and we may just bump into each other in the future.