Graduation is so close, you can taste it. Unfortunately, you still have another three months—with plenty of tasks to keep your stress level steady before walking across the stage and leaving it all behind.
With so much to tackle in your final semester, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Acing that test. Filling out the graduation forms. Working more shifts to save up for an apartment.
Here’s the thing. If you have dreams of starting a marketing career in just a few short months, this is what you should know: Forget preparing for graduation. At this point, you need to prepare for your career.
If you land a C on a test because you were busy polishing your resume and making connections, way to go. You’ve already begun the business of prioritizing. Agencies aren’t going to know or care how your last semester of school went. They want the highlights. What have you done to demonstrate that you are agency-ready?
Chances are, you are in the middle of applying for internships (or jobs). That’s great. But there’s more you can do to advance your career than sending out applications.
Here are 4 ways to get agency-ready:
Grab coffee with someone in the industry
Now’s the time to make connections and dust off any business cards or email addresses you’ve collected. It’s important to meet with anyone you can in the industry to get your name out there. Come prepared with questions about what they do, what their company is like, and what they’re looking for in new hires. This information is invaluable as it helps you start to gauge where you’d be a good fit. They may not be hiring now, but they’ll remember you when they are.
Make the most out of your resume
I’ve witnessed a giant stack of resumes disappear in only a few minutes. Scan. Toss. Scan. Toss. Most resumes lack that wow factor. Your resume should make people want to learn more about you.
You’ll need second opinions on your resume. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of your school’s career center, do. They offer free help crafting resumes. Also send your resume to a few business professionals you trust. Ask for their feedback and opinions on their current impression of your resume, what’s working, and what’s lacking. Does your resume showcase your leadership skills? What you’re passionate about? How you’ve problem solved? How you’ve contributed above and beyond?
Schedule agency informational interviews
You may not necessarily have connections to the agencies you want to work for. Call them and ask them if they’d be willing to connect you with someone. Chances are, they have someone there like me who enjoys meeting with young professionals. Grabbing coffee with an agency professional helps you make connections. Scheduling an informational discussion at an agency helps you see first-hand what the agency is like. Again, come prepared with questions that showcase your smarts, curiosity, and passion for both their agency and the industry.
Sign up for Ad2 (or other industry groups)
Your state may offer a local Ad2 or American Advertising Federation chapter to get involved in. Usually for a membership fee, you can receive access to all kinds of events to help you acclimate to the agency world. They usually offer networking events to meet people in the industry, practice interviewing, get portfolio feedback and more. In addition, there are plenty of topical events to continue your real-world marketing education.
I’d wish you best of luck in your career search, but that’d be shortchanging you. Although there is always a bit of luck involved, by now I hope you are determined to take your career into your own hands. The rewards of agency life are numerous. Until then, make preparing for it serious business.