Getting Started In the Ad Industry

 How Hungry Are You?

My name is Eric Lifson. I am the Competitive Intelligence Specialist on the National McDonald’s Team at Cossette Communications (you too can have a fancy title one day).

Breaking into the ad industry can seem daunting. Here are 10 surefire steps to get in and excel once you get there.

1. Be passionate.

People get into the ad industry for a variety of reasons. I personally aspired to get in because I was fascinated by the psychology behind what makes people act and think the way they do and how they are influenced. However, some think it could be an interesting field because they like to party or they just like the fashion on Mad Men. If you do not have the passion for advertising, stop right now and go do something else. Do not waste your time!

2. Be hungry for knowledge.

Source as much info from industry publications as possible. Some great places to start are Marketing Magazine, Strategy and Ad Age in North America and Campaign in the UK. You need to be on top of things the minute they happen. You should learn who the major players are and be on top of the latest industry trends. Check out and Use your camera phone and capture anything that piques your interest. You never know when it can be useful or inspire you.

3. Think about your own brand.

What ideals do you stand for? What do you bring to the table that makes you stand out from the crowd of the thousands out there that are just like you? Sure, you are a ‘hard worker’ or a ‘good team player’, but so is everyone else! Go deeper.

4. Step up your social networking presence.

Use your own blog as a place to express yourself. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile right now, what are you waiting for? Also, beef up your Twitter profile and actually read the articles that industry leaders post.

5. Informational interviews.

This is where you take someone who is already in the industry out for a coffee to pick their brains. These guys have done it already. You haven’t. Be humble and ask as many thought provoking questions as you can. Come prepared with research about the agency and the clients that the person works on.

6. Actually follow up.

Keep a spreadsheet of all the people you talk to and check in with them from time to time with a blog article or piece of news. Also, be sure to introduce yourself to the agency’s HR specialist.

7. Be creative, but not obnoxious.

Set yourself apart from the competition. Bring a leave-behind (not your resume) that will leave a lasting impression and that shows off your personality. Even a well thought out business card or postcard can work wonders.

8. Volunteer for everything and anything.

This is a great opportunity to showcase your abilities with no obligation to an agency. Also, try to volunteer at industry events such Advertising Week (ICA), Oneshow, and Marketing Awards (Marketing Magazine). These are great ways for you to network.

9. Think big picture.

What you put in now is what you will get out later. If you are not the hungriest person who will go the extra mile, someone else will be.

10. Believe in yourself.

All agencies need interns or entry level positions. Why shouldn’t it be you who gets the job? Remember, if you do not care about your career or achieving your full potential, who will?

If you find it hard to get started or are looking for a brain to pick, feel free to message me at!

Sharpen your teeth and get in there!