The Importance of Being Earnest: advice for pursuing a career in Advertising

Ok, so not the 19th Century play by Oscar Wilde, but a piece of advice for pursuing a career in the Advertising industry.

What does it mean to be ‘earnest’?

1. Always be the first to speak (within reason).

  • At an event or talk, such as one of AdSoc’s university events, the important thing is to stand out from the crowd and get yourself noticed.
  • If the speaker asks a question, be the first to answer it.
  • If the opportunity arises, be the first to ask a question.
  • Go up and introduce yourself at the end of the event.
  • But be careful – do all of this ‘within reason’ – you do NOT want to come across as pushy, rude or a slimy networker – you are being enthusiastic, not forceful.

2. Ask, Follow Up and Pursue.

Email companies and agencies; enquire at events and recruitment fairs. If you have a contact, follow it up and open it to other opportunities – just because this company’s graduate schemes are full doesn’t mean they won’t be able to recommend you to another.

Wait, does this really work, or do you still just come across as pushy? Well, here are a couple of real world examples:

  • I got an internship with Marketing Agency ‘Reluctantly Brave’ by following up after an AdSoc event – the speaker later told me that of all the people to go up and talk to him, I was the only one who really went the extra mile – that I embodied what was ‘Reluctantly Brave’. (I potentially went too far in finding him on – but it worked nonetheless!)
  • I was on the part-time job list for a company called Rococo Catering. They emailed out work opportunities, and the first to reply got the job. People replied very quickly. Eventually, I emailed the owner and explained how much I wanted to work for him, but because I didn’t have a smartphone, I couldn’t check my emails as frequently as others. He replied saying ‘I like your gumption’, and I worked consistently for them until coming to Oxford.

3. Always put yourself in the running.

No matter how unlikely or difficult something may seem – you must never shy away from an opportunity. There are people in the world who make a living out of entering every single free raffle or competition they can find – on sheer probability they eventually win something.

Work experience, internships and graduate schemes are your free raffles – but from all the other experience you’ve gained through being ‘earnest’, you’ll have a much higher probability of winning.

4. Start being earnest today.

Here are two competitions currently open for submissions that both offer an internship to the winner.

AdSoc Bloggathon 2012: a blogging competition in collaboration with the top London ad agency CHI & Partners

Telling the Truth competition: a competition with a top prize of a summer 2013 internship at MediaCom, either in the UK or US office


Dave Watson, your AdSoc president. Connect with him on linkedin and check out his art and design blog


Image by smemon