Help Me Level Up.
October 18, 2010 4:36 AM   Subscribe

JobFilter: None of the advertising (boutique) agencies in my city are looking for interns. What are other internships or activities I can do that will build my resume and help me to enter the industry as a creative?


For a variety of reasons, I'm stuck where I am through next summer, at which point I'm planning to move to Los Angeles and (ideally) find work in the advertising industry. I've called as many of the boutiques in my city as I can, and those that I've gotten in touch with aren't looking for interns... or at least, that's what they tell me.

I have a B.A. in Political Science, and a couple of different jobs under my belt since graduating in December '08 -- but nothing remotely relevant to advertising. (FWIW, I worked in the State Legislature, and am currently a sub teacher and a tutor at a study center.)

When I do move, I'm hoping to work as a copywriter, but I understand that if need be I might have to do work in other aspects of the industry before I can ascend to that position.

I also have considerable interest in film and photography, but the extent of what I have so far are two full-length (mediocre) screenplays, personal photographs, and one YouTube video created as a personal project using Final Cut Express.

What else should I be doing?

Bonus points if you work or worked in advertising.
posted by the NATURAL to Work & Money (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Many companies have in-house marketing/PR departments. It isn't full-strength advertising, but it will give you real-world experience with many aspects of working in a similar environment.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:42 AM on October 18, 2010

Write some sample copy, for made up products/services. Put a 'book' together including these samples. Take some badly written copy and fix it. Call agencies and ask who you can send your book to, and who to speak to about getting on their freelancer list.

Fake it til you make it, in other words.

Professional comms consultant who had no advertising experience before I got into marketing nearly, gosh, four years ago. I used blog posts, project documentation from my previous training role and rewrites of boring job ads to prove I could write.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:37 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

you are mistaken in your belief that you need to work in other departments before you could 'ascend' to that position. (copywriter as well as art director are entry-level positions. in larger agencies you will get a junior prefix to that title, in others you will just notice the difference in your paycheck until you make acd or cd.) all that matters is your portfolio. you should have 3-5 campaigns of at least three pieces each. with that you email their creative recruiter or a specific creative director you want to work for and ask them to check out your pdf. ask to be considered for an internship. usually if they like your ideas you're gonna get a chance at it.

my hunch is that you don't have a portfolio, right? without that you won't get into the creative shops out there. (in LA that would be in no particular order 180, wongdoody, siltanen, chiat/day, 72andsunny, deutsch, rpa, perhaps ddb.) if you're going out there I'd suggest you drive up to accd in pasadena and talk to the advertising dep chair about taking a night class. that should give you some basic idea of the business. or consider checking out miami ad school or vcu brandcenter.

from your post I presume you are not knowledgable enough yet to be of value in a creative department, which is why you will lose out when competing for limited internship spots against the ad school students looking to spend a semester in a creative agency. you don't need to join an ad school to compete with them but you will need to dig in and start a solid book to make it through the door. everything else is irrelevant. nobody will care about your resume unless it says 'somali pirate for ten years' on there.
posted by krautland at 5:56 AM on October 18, 2010

Fake it til you make it, in other words.
allow me to clarify: spec ads are fine. that's what all juniors do. that is what is expected of you. (stay away for ads for condoms and tabasco sauce please. every junior has it in their books. also don't do ads for brands that are already great, like apple or nike. make something uncool cool - powdered sugar would be a great example.)

don't fake anything on your resume though. small industry. you will meet everyone more than once.
posted by krautland at 5:58 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, sorry for not being clear - if you write copy for a portfolio piece and haven't actually been commissioned to write it (i.e. it's a spec piece) then make sure that is clear.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:07 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The absolute quickest path to becoming a copywriter as others have mentioned is to do a portfolio program at a place like Miami Ad School or VCU brandcenter, where they'll make you create a book of spec ads and hook you up with an internship at a well-known agency. That agency would either hire you, or (along with your contacts/teachers from the program) would put in the good word for you somewhere else.

I've met a lot of people who have fallen into copywriting from other disciplines of the industry, though this takes way, way longer and is not guaranteed. Also, never go into an interview for an account/media internship position telling them you sort of aspire to be a creative . It pretty much screens you right out.
posted by windbox at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2010

Oh, please don't start as an account guy thinking you'll get into the creative department. Those people never actually moved over. And they were total d^$ks to the creative department.

Do spec work, buy the Copy Workshop Workbook and Hey Whipple, Squeeze This and keep your options open. The number of brilliant books coming out of VCU, Creative Circus, Academy of Art, etc., etc. are growing while the number of jobs are shrinking.

Good luck.
posted by Gucky at 7:57 AM on October 18, 2010

the ad schools, just as a final addendum, still require you to put a lot of effort into it yourself. it is up to you to build your portfolio, to end up with a bunch of great ads in it. you will not graduate and automatically have a great book. that however is all that matters. nobody will care where you got your degree.
posted by krautland at 3:43 PM on October 24, 2010

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