Breaking into Advertising Without Experience is Tough but Possible


Q.  I have been looking for jobs at ad agencies and I see many positions that are available.  I’ve made a lot of contacts through LinkedIn.  The issue I face is that I do not have any traditional ad agency experience.  My major was a discipline that I designed to cover all aspects of advertising from the creative to the management.  Many recruiters have told me to get an internship, but I work to support myself.  Currently I do advertising sales.  What is the best way to approach this situation? I feel like the longer I stay in my current position the more difficult it will be to reach my goal. 

A.  Since my primary focus is on PR, I asked two friends in the ad world to offer their suggestions for your dilemma.  One heads a major agency, and the other is an account executive in her third year at a major agency.

EnergyBBDO President and CEO Tonie Paul says you’ll need to get serious about finding an entry-level job at an agency before it  is too big a step back for you financially. 

“Depending upon his experience to date, it is possible that he would be a candidate for an entry level position,” Tonise says.  “The most critical thing he needs to do is to determine what kind of position he is looking for within an agency.  Then he needs to start hunting to determine his entry options.  He might even explore different kinds of agencies (e.g., events, healthcare communications, digital).  If he is intentional, he can do it!”

Taylor McDougal at Draftcb feels relationships within the industry and through LinkedIn are important, but they only get you in the door, they do not get you the job.

“The most integral part of finding a job at an advertising agency is having relevant experience,” Taylor says.  “So although it may be rough financially for awhile, the best choice would be to take any internship offers so that you can start building your skill set within the agency.  After that first internship, it’s much easier to move up and get hired within the same agency, or look for entry level positions at other agencies.”

One thought on “Breaking into Advertising Without Experience is Tough but Possible

  1. Stupidest article ever. I have a master degree in marketing. And work experience and internships. I have been trying forever to get my foot in the door. Even to do an internship. But no one will hire these days anyone even for an unpaid internship. Because:
    1. There are no jobs
    2. You need 10 years of work experience even for a non-paid internship.
    3. No one wants to train/teach anyone anything. Everyone expects you to have work experience. However, I ask how can you have work experience when no one will hire you???

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