It’s a scary time to be a future graduate. Every day I feel bombarded with messages that tell me I can’t do it:
The unemployment rate is too high.
We are in a recession.
In this economy, you should take whatever you can get.
When people ask me about my career goals, immediately following my overly excited response of copywriting!!! (with that many exclamation points) they say: “Why advertising?”
When I was eight, my elementary school held its first career day. Students dressed up as what they wanted to be when they grew up. Most students came to school dressed as doctors, lawyers, astronauts, and of course, Britney Spears (hey, it was the 90s).
I sat shyly in the corner of the classroom wearing plain clothes, a pencil behind my ear, and a notepad full of concept sketches. My classmates, blind with confusion as to why I wasn’t dressed extravagantly in pop star diva attire, spent the entire day interrogating me. “What’s an advertiser?” they’d say. Apparently, no one else my age spent their time memorizing commercials and singing jingles from sour cream ads…
My parents thought I would grow out of it. In kindergarten, I said I wanted to be a police officer (despite my lack of bravery). The next day, I claimed that culinary arts were my calling (despite my lack of baking skills). Yet as time passed, my passion for advertising remained. I grew up, but I never grew out of it.
Ten years later, I started at the University of Oregon. My first class was Writing 121. I nervously took my seat in the middle of the classroom (I was too scared to sit in the front – total n00b) and saw “George Orwell: Why I Write – 1946” written on the board with chalk. Our first assignment was to read his essay, and then write our own version of “Why I Write”. I had always considered myself a good writer but through this reflection, I realized how much I truly enjoy writing. I had never thought about why I wrote, and this assignment made me understand my necessity to creatively express myself. However, it never struck me that it could be a career.
Sophomore year, I joined Allen Hall Advertising. It was almost by fluke – I had recently declared a journalism major and I needed a resume builder. I had no knowledge of advertising besides the lingering spark of interest from my elementary school days. Little did I know how fortunate I would be. I was completely taken aback by the innovation and creative thinking that surrounded me. I realized advertising is more than just persuading people to buy products — it has the capability to shift cultural ideologies and change the world for the better (more to come on that subject in a later blog post, if you don’t believe me). My time at the University of Oregon has allowed me to pick the brains of ad industry professionals and incredible student talent, and delve into the world that I am so passionate about.
It has been an interesting journey to find my professional identity. Some days I envision myself in that corner office, coming up with slogans on the spot like Don Draper (in a non-sexist, non-smoking, non-alcoholic sort of way). Other days, I read Ernie Schenck’s Be the Rabbit and wonder if I have what it takes to survive the cold, bitter slap of the advertising world. But that’s life; all I can do is try my best to live it.
What is my ultimate career goal? I want to be a writer at an advertising agency. How will I do this? Learn as much as I can about my passion – start small, educate myself, accept failure, learn, and grow. Why advertising? Because it’s time to make these dreams a reality, no matter how difficult it may be along the way.