Career Mapping 4

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Account Management. “At the entry level, an account coordinator, administrative assistant, or assistant account executive ensures that ads move smoothly through the execution process. Occasionally, these jobs include some competitive analysis and assistance in client meetings or on ad shoots. Past the entry level, an account executive handles all aspects of an account—from planning to implementation. Account executives determine a client’s needs and coordinate with other departments to ensure they are met. From there, you can move on to become an account manager, account supervisor, management supervisor, vice president, and eventually, director."

Media. “Some agencies will start you as a media assistant, a largely clerical position. From there, you'll move to assistant media planner, where you'll analyze consumer habits and evaluate content to determine where an ad is most likely to get the target audience’s attention (think beer ads during the Super Bowl). Assistant media buyers purchase airtime and advertising space and ensure that ads appear as scheduled. From the assistant level, the career trajectory progresses to media planner or buyer, senior media planner or buyer, media supervisor, vice president, and director.”

Account Planning. “Most people move into account planning laterally as junior account planners or are hired from account planning departments in other agencies. Account planners try to quantify and qualify what makes people tick—and analyze mountains of data in the process—by conducting focus groups and researching things such as why teens like one kind of soft drink more than another. If you do well, you can advance rapidly to senior account planner, vice president, and director.”

Creative Services. “Creative career tracks require a book of sample ads. You might take an assistant position in a creative department while putting together your book. Entry-level creative positions are called junior positions: A junior copywriter assists a senior copywriter in writing copy and scripts for ads; a junior art director helps an art director develop visual concepts and designs for ads. Copywriters and art directors work together as partners to come up with strong ideas to carry out a client’s strategy.”

Production. “The closer you are to entry level in the production department, the more your work will consist of grunt layout tasks. As you move up, you'll have increasing say in design issues. Production generally has the most contact with account management and creative, and it can be a good path to other careers in advertising. If you're a young graphic artist, this is a good place to learn about advertising and get to know people who can advise you on getting a book together.”

•Success stories

Look around where you work for those who have progressed through the organization or in other organizations first. Talk to them about their goals, why they made the decisions they did, and what they learned from the process. There are books, blogs and articles about people who have “made it” in business in general and specifically in advertising. The Harvard Business School pocket-sized paperback Managing Your Career: Straight Talk From the World’s Top Business Leaders, includes tips from business leaders about everything from carefully planning predictable job pathways to looking for inspiration and ideas in unexpected places and pursuing personal interests to broaden your horizons.

•Asking questions, noting patterns and de-constructing plans

--If you don’t have it already, ask your supervisor or HR for career progression information they have specific to the agency. Ask someone to explain it to you and give you examples.

--Scope out a position you may want in the company and get support to determine the steps and skills you need to get there. Arrange to talk to a person who is currently in that position.

--Talk to your boss and your boss’s boss: Minority executive head-hunter and author Kenneth Roldan advises multicultural employees to take deliberate steps to investigate a successful path to their next job position within or outside of a company. Talking to one’s supervisors, and even their supervisors, about how they attained their current positions can go a long way in highlighting how one should groom for that specific success.

•The non-linear path

The book How to Succeed in Advertising When All You Have is Talent by Laurence Minsky, includes career path stories of successful art directors, copy writers and agency heads. One chapter chronicles the progression of African-American agency head Tom Burrell from an aptitude test in school, to mail room worker, to taking time off to travel, and later starting his own agency. All along the way Burrell made note of his own successes and failures, those of his co-workers and employers, and the lessons he learned from those experiences. Among the advice he has about career mapping is to consider the “circuitous” rather than the linear route, especially in the creative side of advertising.

So many times, it seems that serendipity, sometimes called luck or chance, plays a role in the directions our lives may take. Many times the successful “careerpreneurs,” as Sylvia Gaffney calls them, create opportunities for themselves that might be considered lucky or serendipitous, but actually are the result of their constant curiosity for knowledge and quest to expand their horizons.

•Making your goals known

Another of Tom Burrell’s tips for how to succeed in advertising involves “broadcasting” your goals and plans, and then doing what you say you plan to do. According to Burrell, if you are truly committed to following through on your career goals, you should make them public, and in doing so you are not only communicating that you have a plan and the resolve to achieve it, but you are also allowing others to help you achieve your goals.


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