Sunday, January 29, 2006

Advice to media graduates

As the last semester for the next batch of job hopefuls gets into full swing, I wanted to offer my advice. (Much of this is aimed at the college junior though). We were introducing ourselves at church the other day (in a small group). Everyone mentions their job--even if it's under their breath. I introduced myself as saying that I worked at an ad agency and do exactly what I did college--except that it's better quality--and I get paid for it. As we went around the room, I was surprised at the number of people that this is not true for.

  1. Decide what you actually want to do
  2. Actually do it (intern, get hired, etc.) before you leave college
  3. Preferably before your senior year
  4. And preferably under someone who is good at it. It was raises your standards bar. All your previous work will begin to have an awful stinch--but hey isn't that good? You will also see that a 50 hour project is small and that great work is often collaborative. You will also learn that collaboration saves time, too. Hopefully, you can throw a Fortune 500 company on your resume.
  5. Drop names, drop a few critical names. You need to gain the trust of your future employee. You need to project that you can do the job.
  6. Put your three best projects on the web, so that your future employer can view them. (Okay, put more than that if you've been in the business a while--but don't put stuff in your portfolio just to make it big). They are looking for quality. Let me repeat. They are looking for quality. Can you do the job? As a recent college graduate, you won't get the job no way/no how if they wanted experience or busines acumen in the first place.
  7. Prove your versatility. Can you do graphic design? Video? Flash? Audio? Hey, don't present it if it's awful. It only takes one project to impress your future boss. Impress him (or her) in a multimedia presentation and storm the castle from multiple sides, Mr. Swiss Army Knife. They wouldn't be hiring a recent college graduate unless they wanted new blood. What can you provide that someone who's been in the industry 20 years can't provide?
  8. Read What Color Is Your Parachute? It covers job seeking, interviewing, and salary negotiation as well as identifying your true passion and learning more about the type of jobs you would really want to do.

--Stephen M. James


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