A May grad asks about a career in advertising

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Q: I am graduating in May.  My major has been Advertising/Marketing with a minor in English.  I had an internship last year, but it was more focused on marketing communications, and some social media tasks.  I have been working with the career services office at my university to fine-tune my resume.  What can I do to make the move into an advertising job?  I think I would like this more than communications.  Any tips are appreciated.  My parents want to hire a career coach for me, but I am not sure that is necessary.

A: Congratulations on your upcoming graduation.  It sounds like you have had an internship, which may be relevant to your career aspirations.  Good for you for landing that internship!  You are also taking advantage of a valuable resource, which is your university’s career services office.

I consulted a seasoned Creative Director, Rick McHugh.  Rick has extensive experience in advertising and has worked with some well-established clients in many industries.  McHugh explains the advertising is a very broad field.  Some of his questions for you included, “Do you know what you’d like to do?  Creative, account management, media, social or digital marketing?  There are so many career paths that you could consider.”  If you pursue the creative route, McHugh advises building an online portfolio of your work.  Think about whether you would want to consider being a copywriter or an art director/designer.  A copywriter’s role is to write clear and compelling copy (or content).  An art director/designer’s focus is on the visual part of advertising.  An art director/designer is often the person who selects the photos, graphics or other images.

Before you hire a career coach, think about broadening your network.  You are using your career services office, which is a great start.  Reach out to other connections, who may know of job opportunities.  These connections may include professors, college roommates, family members, neighbors and friends.  Technology has influenced job hunting, but building a professional network is critically important.  Most job hunters land new jobs through a connection.  It may be a friend’s mother or it may be an older graduate of your university.  If you expand your network and diligently focus on your job search, you may not need a coach.  Many grads become anxious right before graduation.  You will land a job, no question.  With your parents, set a date.  If you have not received a job offer by that date, then consider a career coach.  If you do hire a career coach, make sure that they have worked with recent grads.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.