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March 10, 2009


So you want to be in advertising, but you have no idea how to get started. Perhaps your first round of resumes and cover letters has gone out to no avail, save a few postcards advising you that your info is being "reviewed." Maybe you're looking to contact people in the industry, but you don't know where to start looking.

Or perhaps you've already landed an entry-level gig, but it's not what you expected. No training programs? Limited networking opportunities? And where are all these so-called headhunters people keep talking about? If you're serious about making a career in advertising, walk, don't run, to your local professional advertisers' association. These groups exist for the sole purpose of helping advertising professionals network, share information, and strengthen their careers. If you haven't learned it yet, you'll find out soon enough that who you know in the advertising business is just as important as what you can do.

Find your local AAF chapter
The best place to start is the site for the American Advertising Federation, located at Check out the site's listing of affiliated local organizations for the AAF club nearest you. If they don't have web sites, look them up, then call and ask them to mail you some information. Also helpful, especially for recent grads, is AD 2 - the division of the AAF geared towards younger advertising professionals. If you're looking for or just starting your first job, you may be more comfortable joining AD 2, since many of the members are closer to your age and status. Then let the networking begin.

Job Listings

According to Beth Anrig, founder of a job placement service in Connecticut, "15 percent of jobs are filled through the newspaper, five percent are filled through companies like mine, and 80 percent are filled through word-of-mouth. Advertising agencies are no exception. As Anrig points out, if there's an open position, "a manager will first ask a couple of people if they know anyone good." If they do advertise openings, advertising agencies are more likely to use industry publications than the local paper. Another, increasingly popular choice - advertising club job banks. Most AAF and AD2 web sites feature up-to-date job listings from local agencies, and a few allow you to post your resume online. ~Check the events calendar
Local ad clubs offer plenty of learning - and schmoozing - opportunities, from brown-bag lunch seminars to industry conferences to happy-hour mixers. A sampling of some sites reveals a plethora of options in the near future. The Advertising Club of Boston is hosting "The Traveling One Show Exhibit," featuring stellar creative work from the nation's top advertising schools. In San Francisco, the local ad club is sponsoring a talk on "The Dot.Com Decade and Beyond," with a panel of top execs from USWeb/CKS, Modem Media.Poppe Tyson, Organic, and SF Interactive. And the Ad Federation of Miami is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month (October) with a talk on "How not to Advertise to Hispanics," featuring top names from targeted agencies including Federico Traeger of The Bravo Group, New York. Luis Miguel Messianu, of del Rivero Messianu, and Fausto Sanchez, of Sanchez & Levitan.

On the more social side, AD 2 Seattle sponsors a monthly social event, where "cool young advertising types chat about [their] wondrous accomplishments, and schmooze with the schmoozers; and AD2 Dallas holds mixers at local restaurants for current and prospective members. Then of course, there are the events advertising youngsters dream about - the gala celebrations. You may not be attending early on in the game, but at least it gives you something to look forward to.

Education and internships
Ad clubs offer excellent career development programs, ranging from seminar series, to workshops, to formal courses. The Advertising Club of Boston, for example, offers courses in Creative Concepts, Marketing & Communications, and Learning Exchange Sessions, which cover more broad topics like "How to Manage, Discipline, and Fire Employees," and "The ins and outs of Mergers and Acquisitions." The San Francisco Ad Club offers Account Management and Media Planning courses similar to what you would expect from an agency. Tuition for these programs usually range from a few hundred dollars to $1000, but club members always get generous discounts. ~But wait, there's more!
We can't forget the perks, now can we? Most Ad clubs offer myriad discounts on seminar and workshop tickets, on subscriptions to industry publications, even for car rentals and local restaurants. Many also offer group health insurance - a must for temps and freelancers. And last, creatives can build their portfolios by creating public service campaigns, newsletters and invitations for club events. What more could you ask for? Get thee to an Ad Club!

We'll even help you get started
Visit these for general information:
American Advertising Federation:
International Advertising Association:

Links to some local ad federations in major U.S. cities:
The Advertising Club of Greater Boston:
The Advertising Federation of Greater Miami:
San Francisco Ad Club:
AD 2 Seattle:
AD 2 Phoenix:


Filed Under: Job Search