We recently found a great article on About.com by Apryl Duncan that answers the question that many potential advertising executives ask themselves before entering the business, is advertising the right career for me? This article not only touches on some key aspects of the industry, but also gives some tips about working in the advertising business. Here is the complete article.
Is a Career in Advertising Right for You?
By Apryl Duncan
Originally posted on About.com
Have you ever watched a commercial and said:
“I can do better than that!”
Then you may be considering a career in advertising. But how do you know if this career is right for you? See if these elements line up with your personality and career goals:
The Creative Department
If you are creative and like to write or design, you’ve already added advertising to your top five list of career opportunities. Working in a major ad agency’s creative department is a dream job for most but you may find you would rather work in a small ad agency, in-house agency or even on your own as a freelancer.
You’ll be working as a team and your creative personality will not only be valued, it will be relied upon every day. Even if your copy comes back with red marks all over it, you’re the one the Creative Director is counting on to write that ad. If your design is marked up, you’re still the one that needs to make the changes to get the ad completed on time.
Advertising Jobs Aren’t Just for Creatives
When you think of advertising, you may automatically imagine a room full of creative people hammering out ideas into one solid ad campaign. Copywriters, graphic designers, creative directors, art directors and other creative people do work together in these types of settings.
However, there are plenty of other types of people involved in a successful ad campaign that don’t actually create the ads. Account executives, traffic managers, media coordinators, media directors, researchers and other non-creatives work in the advertising industry.
These people are just as crucial to a client’s successful ad campaign as the creatives who develop the campaign’s concept. Many of the non-creative positions in advertising also work directly with the client. For example, an account executive (AE) is a liaison between the client and the creative department. An AE must work closely with both to make sure the client’s needs are being met in every step of the ad campaign.
High Pressure Environment
People have lost their jobs over a failed ad campaign. When a client pulls his ad dollars because he wasn’t happy with the results, the proverbial heads do roll.
You’re partially responsible for an ad campaign’s success or failure. This is great when the campaign is a huge hit. You share in the glory. When the campaign is a flop, you also share in the bad times with your colleagues.
This high pressure environment isn’t for everyone. Short deadlines, last minute changes and sitting in the boss’ office when it’s time to take the heat for an unsuccessful ad campaign, have caused many ad professionals to change careers.
Wear Thick Skin
You must have a thick skin if you’re going to work in advertising. Not every idea you have is going to be well-received. Your work will pass through many eyes before the ad campaign is released and will undergo many changes.
You may have written your best copy yet but you’re asked to start over and do it again. You have to handle criticism very well. Don’t take offense to being asked for changes to your work. It’s just part of the job.
The client has very specific needs and a very specific vision about his company. You’re part of a team creating the client’s ad campaign and you can take solace in the fact that pretty much everyone on that team is going to be asked to change at least one aspect of what they were working on.
You would be surprised by how many changes a simple print ad can go through before it reaches final approval. This holds true even for major ad agencies with big name clients.
Not Your Typical 9-5
TV and movies make advertising look like a glamorous life. Working in the field is very rewarding but it does take a lot of work and a lot of long hours.
If you enjoy being home by 6 p.m. to eat with your family every night and have season tickets to your college team’s football games every Saturday, you may want to weigh the value of your free time vs. your career time before you start working in advertising. You’ll put in a lot of days and nights that seem to run together. You’ll probably even have last minute changes that come up and your whole schedule has to be cleared on a moment’s notice.
Low Pay…At First
Are you willing to start out at the bottom of the totem pole and work your way up to the corner office with a view? Advertising salaries won’t make you rich overnight when you’re just starting out.
Full-time agency copywriters can start off in the low teens before working their way into $60,000 or more positions. Full-time agency account executives can work their way into positions that pay close to $80,000. You’ll also find many seasoned ad pros making six figures in their accomplished careers. Being determined and hard-working will help you land bigger positions with better pay.
If you’re still unsure about a career in advertising, an internship will help you take a behind the scenes look at an ad agency and also give you valuable connections you can use if you decide to pursue your career in the industry.