My Job Search, Part II

Tejada, who graduated from Miami Ad School in May, is documenting her search for a copywriter job in ‘Adweek.’ In Part I [July 14], the Miami resident wrote about a trip to New York to get her portfolio reviewed.

OK, so maybe it’s not all about finding a job. It’s about finding the right job. The job where I want to work with them and they want to work with me. At the agency where I fit in.

At first I thought all I had to do was find an agency offering a job and I’m in. Cocky, right? Recently I’ve watched people I went to school with get jobs, but here I am, still searching. Was it their timing? Are their books just better than mine? Was it because they are mostly men or because most of them are art directors? Am I destined to keep writing these articles for the rest of my life? “My Job Search, Part 189.”

In a quest for more feedback on my book, I went to San Francisco at the end of July. When I was trying to show my book in New York, I was lucky if a handful of agencies called me back. In San Francisco, most people called back. I was able to get my book reviewed at FCB, Goodby, Y&R and DDB. One creative manager assured me it’s not that the advertising folks in San Francisco are nicer, it’s that most agencies don’t have a lot going on. I found that some of the agencies were actually pretty busy—but there were no jobs to be had.

Since the first job diary, I’ve received great advice about my portfolio and the job search. Showing work around the portfolio-review circuit, I had gotten mostly generic comments that hadn’t motivated me to change very much. Now people gave specific feedback. A creative from Y&R in San Francisco worked with me on the body copy of a campaign I have for The New Yorker. After my column ran, I got e-mails from people requesting to see some work. That was when the real critical comments came. Agency creatives told me which campaigns to get rid of and which needed more work.

I wanted this revision of my book to be my last. I didn’t want reviews anymore. I wanted a job. Right before I started revising, I had a good conversation with a freelance creative who assured me that the review process never ends. Even at the job he has now, someone was giving him a critique. I realized I would never stop working on my book.

After wrapping up the revisions, I started contacting New York agencies again to see if anything had opened up. My job search seems to keep bringing me back to New York. While some friends have been hired at Hispanic agencies, here in Miami and in Texas, New York was where I started my advertising career, and I would like to continue in New York, at least for now.

I’d hoped the end of summer would bring some new jobs. Two agencies said they were looking, and I sent both my portfolio. Now, I’m waiting to hear back. I was told by one freelancer that some people show their book twice and get a job while others have to show their book a thousand times. I will fall somewhere in between.

This summer was frustrating. Toward the end, I found myself struggling to keep pushing forward, to keep working on my portfolio and contacting agencies. But I’ve learned from this experience. I learned to keep up with my contacts and never miss the chance to let someone review my portfolio. I learned my job search is never going to get easy, because I am the only one who can keep it going. I learned that every available junior copywriting position is not going to be right for me. My style of writing may not fit in, I may not have the specific qualifications the agency is looking for, I may not want to move to South Carolina. As my friend Samantha, who is also looking for a job in advertising, said, “This experience has humbled us.”

I get annoyed when I hear that some of my friends who have advertising jobs now are unhappy and looking to go to other agencies. I would take their jobs in a second. They don’t know how good they have it. I would love the chance to prove myself to an agency.

But while I do feel humbled, I’m also extremely lucky: While I’m looking for a position at an agency, I already have a job, at a mobile-marketing company. It keeps me working on my writing and in touch with the advertising industry, not to mention making some money. I can come and go as I please, as long as I get my work done. I can run home to put together a mini-book to send out. I know I’m definitely in a better position than some of the other people looking for advertising jobs right now.

This search process has been hard for me. But I still feel like I can take whatever comes at me. I know the job is out there.