Adweek’s 2017 Graduate’s Guide to Marketing and Media

What you need to know to land the right job—and kick ass at it

Illustration: Adweek; Sources: Getty Images

So you’ve put in the years of studying, sleepless nights and occasionally regrettable social choices, and you’re ready to enter the real world. If you’re still not feeling 100 percent prepared for what’s ahead, we’ve got you covered.

Each year, Adweek gathers together insights from some of the marketing industry’s brightest minds and looks at the trends shaping workplace opportunities across the agency, brand and media landscape.

Whether you’re looking for creative, effective ways to get recruiters’ attention or you already have a job locked in and are just looking to start on the right foot, this guide will hopefully offer a few words of wisdom for your post-college years and beyond.

This year’s advice for graduates:

One day you wake up and realize you haven’t seen Paris. Or Mexico City. Or Sydney. You want to travel the world, but you can’t afford to just pack your bags and leave your job. What do you do? Adweek staff writer Christine Birkner highlights two paths to working abroad. Some agencies have fellowship programs, which allow employees to work in cities around the world. Or you can apply directly to overseas agencies, but be sure to bring an enthusiasm for the culture and the language. Agency veterans also give us tips on how to survive and thrive while working in a foreign country.

The ad industry is notorious for putting young (and old) employees through the grinder of a vicious workload. Entering the agency world sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be—if you set the right rules for yourself early in your career. Agency pros spoke with Adweek senior editor Patrick Coffee to give us the lowdown on what you should do to make sure you achieve a reasonable work-life balance. We also share tips on what you should ask employers to determine whether a company’s work culture will gel with your personality and ambitions.

You’ve made it this far: After years of long hours in the classroom and at internships learning the ins and outs of the industry, you’re ready to put that new knowledge to use in the real world. But how do you set yourself apart from the competition? Melanie Myers, Wieden + Kennedy’s global head of creative recruitment, shares what job candidates can do to catch her eye. And she’s got nine more tips on how to impress and score that job offer once you’ve landed the interview.

How often and aggressively should you network? When does confidence come off as arrogance? Is there ever a time to panic during your job hunt? Staff writer Katie Richards spoke to agency execs and recent grads about pursuing your first job in the agency world. They share success stories about their own job hunts, but also cautionary tales of candidates who had the talent, but not the personality to impress creatives.

Before going viral on the internet was even a thing, Wunderman D.C.’s Tuesday Poliak pulled off an ingenious stunt in the ’90s so good that her phone was ringing off the hook with calls. To land her first job, she explains how fake wallets caught the attention of 11 of her favorite creative directors. Her nifty way to circumvent the waiting game is a legendary lesson on creativity.

The American workforce is undergoing a freelancing revolution. Over 2 million people in the U.S. now consider themselves freelancers, and that’s likely by choice. In 2016, 63 percent of freelancers chose to go independent instead of pursuing this path out of necessity. Why? According to this infographic from Zeqr, freelancing has become surprising lucrative and new job sites make finding work easier than ever before.

You’re entering a creative field. So why not try a creative gimmick to catch an agency’s eye? Looking at previous viral job-seeking stunts, staff writer Kristina Monllos explains what job hunters can take away from these crazy ploys. From agency-inspired Bloody Mary mixes to mimicking Kickstarter, every stunt has a lesson to teach—some good and others, not so much. Agency vets explain why you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box, but also why your stunt might be a waste of your target’s time.

More of Adweek’s advice for recent grads:

9 Tips for Landing Your First Job at an Advertising Agency >

Quiz: Which Marketing or Media Job Is Right for You? >

Hunting for a Job? Here’s How to Vet Your Online Presence First >

How to Network Without Being Annoying >

6 Common Mistakes Recent Graduates Make >

What You Really Learn From Your First Year on the Job >

Career tips from the Adweek archives:

5 More Top Creative Directors Tell Us the Best Advice They Ever Got in Their Careers

Advice for Young Creatives: 4 More Top Advertising Veterans Share Their Secrets

4 Ways to Make the Most of Your First Job in Advertising >

8 Ways You Should Be Using LinkedIn (but Probably Aren’t) >

10 Dream Jobs for Creatives and How People Got Them >

Reality Check: Working at an Agency Is a Pretty Good Life >

5 Marketing and Creativity Books That Stand the Test of Time >