So, you want to work in advertising?
My family likes to joke that I’ve had more career paths than most people…and I don’t disagree. Before joining the team at JP, I was a jack of all trades. A short sample of my jobs includes call center agent, barista, medical assistant, Jazzercise instructor (yes, for real), trade show producer, city hall admin, and about ten more that I may or may not care to remember. From working in a literal gray cubicle to teaching on a stage, my work environments have been quite different over the years. I had no idea that every experience would wrap up into a neat set of skills that prepared me for the wild world of advertising and account management.
When I decided it was time for yet another job search, I looked back at my previous jobs to see which of my skills I used the most. My theory was if I could figure those out, I could find work that I enjoyed doing and could excel in. Then I came across the opening for an Account Manager at JP. It was destiny! I was familiar with the company through my trade show days and knew I was more than capable of taking on the role. However, I had no experience in the advertising industry so I would need to prove myself from the start. Spoiler alert, I got the job over a year ago and have been using all my carefully honed skills since.
Speaking of skills, I pulled out a few I consider essential for success in this role from someone outside the industry.
Every. Single. Day. From communicating with clients to internal team members and outside contacts, not a day goes by without having important conversations. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial. Working at the call center taught me how much non-verbal communication plays into anything customer service related. The practice of saying something with a smile is 100% legit because people can feel it even without seeing you. This applies to every email and phone call you handle. I also learned to stay calm and professional when someone is upset or needs to rant. If you think about how you communicate through speech, writing, or body language, it’s valuable to understand how it comes across to the other side. Also, communication is just as much about listening as it is about getting your point across. You can gain great insight if you listen and actually hear what the person is saying.
Want to know the secret sauce to great relationships? Be sincere. Clients and coworkers can see right through a fake persona and will have a hard time trusting you. My first account at JP was a client that had already been with the agency for a couple of years, so to honor that, I spent time learning about the work we had done, the processes in place, and the business itself. When I heard the name of our day-to-day contact, I was pleasantly surprised. It was someone I already knew through my previous work in trade shows! Because I had a reputation for being dependable, respectful, and knowledgeable in that world, it was easier for the client to feel comfortable in my first meeting with them. Take this as a friendly reminder to do your best not to burn bridges. You never know when someone you worked with in the past will cross your path again.
In contrast to the above, I will admit that I’m also a firm believer in a bit of fake it til you make it. This comes from needing to appear confident in situations where you may not be feeling 100% comfortable. Technically, an adaptive person has elastic-like energy, a willingness to bend and break habits, and an ability to challenge themselves when their circumstances change. Adaptable people tend to think ahead and consistently focus on improvement. This skill alone applies to almost every area of life. And when you’re trying to find where you “fit” career-wise, you have to be willing to adapt to new situations with your work and the people around you. I feel like being adaptive also translates into determination and stubbornness because you must be able to identify where you’re lacking and how to overcome it for growth.
The ability to change jobs or apply your experiences to a new industry comes down to opportunity. And sometimes you have to create that opportunity by taking initiative. In any new job there is a learning curve, whether it be new processes, software, or personalities. Even if you plan to stay in the same position with the same company for the rest of your life, you must be willing to learn new things over the years. However, if you’re like me and want to grow into higher or new positions, you need to take learning head-on. Find out the why behind the way things are done. Ask people in different roles about their projects. Take a free online course to educate yourself on a new topic. Whatever it is, never stop learning. And don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The same goes for opportunities. You’ll miss them if you don’t pay attention.
So, if you’re anything like me, and are searching for where you’re supposed to be, look at the common threads in your life. There’s a lot you can learn about yourself and where your natural talents can take you.
Robin Montgomery, Account Manager