A Day in the Ad Life: Andrea Baraiola

4 10 2007

Every Thursday look for another edition of “A Day in the Ad Life”. I’ve challenged my friends to detail their lives in advertising, and I’m going to post them here. I will try to fill in where I can about my own experiences as well. You can see my first “day in the life” post here, and Bridget Sheehan’s post from last week here.

This week, Andrea Baraiola outlines her position as junior copywriter!Andrea Baraiola

A Day in the Ad Life: Andrea Baraiola

I am a writer. No more, “I really want to be a writer” or, “Yeah, I’m looking for a job in copywriting.” I just plain am, a writer. Finally.

I still get excited at the thought of it, which can clue you off as to how much I love my current job. It took a lot of hard work to get here, and when Jeff asked me to share my story I was happy to do so.

Let me start by saying, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible to get a job as an advertising creative right out of college, because it isn’t. Kick that advice to the curb and make room for mine. It’s possible, rare, but possible. That’s the good news. The bad news is, it takes and insane amount of determination, hard work, and a true passion for this craft to score a coveted job in creative.

To work in creative you have to accept that fact that starting off, you’ll be the definition of overworked and underpaid. They’ll give you a sweet new Mac and possibly a blackberry (don’t get all excited, this just confirms your status as working slave). You might even get a cube with a good view like mine— Midtown Manhattan looks beautiful when I’m stuck here at night. Oh yes, that’s the other thing, as a creative you will NEVER EVER work a 9-5 day. You work until your work is done. And when you’re a junior level employee, even if you work fast, just getting approval for one of your lines or designs can take an entire day.

Even when you leave the office, you’ll find yourself oddly haunted by your work. Which can be a good thing if you love your work, which I do. Often your best ideas will come to you when you’re walking aimlessly down the street so I always have a pen and paper on hand.

Allow me to repeat: I really do love my job. I thrive off of the deadlines and sometimes I even enjoy the late nights. Let’s be honest, when you graduate college you’ll be 22, maybe 23 years old. You’ll have nothing holding you back, no spouse or kids, no real commitments, other than work. So spending the majority of your time at work, or working form home, isn’t so bad.

The agency environment can be pretty fun. One of the best things about being a creative is the laid back feel of where you work. It’s funny, my friends get jealous that my coworkers break out the blender for margaritas on Thursday at 4 or that you can often find a creative working late with a beer at their desk. But for all the fun and games, it’s still not an easy job. It’s not easy, but it’s an easy job to love.

I guess I should tell you how I got my job! I dabbled in a bit of ad sales and media planning before I realized none of those things were for me. Still, I had three internships in other departments before I landed a creative internship the summer before my senior year.

Not many ad agencies offer creative internships, but the ones that do are awesome. Off the top of my head I know Grey (where I work) and Y&R offer them. Still, the slots are limited so if you can’t land an internship, it’s OK to settle for something different at first. One thing to keep in mind is that an internship is a foot in the door, what you do when you get inside is up to you.

If you can’t get into creative, try and look for something in traffic or production, this will ensure close proximity to the creative department and you’ll likely work with writers and art directors on a daily basis.

I spent all of my down time as a media intern mingling with the creatives and listening to their stories and advice. I got right in there and told them, “I’m here in media, but what I really want is your job.” They offered to look at my work and gave me some harsh – but helpful pointers. Remember, just because you can’t get an internship in creative doesn’t mean you can’t utilize their talent and snag a few business cards along the way.

My next piece of advice is to use the dreaded winter break internship. Yes, it’s nice to go home for a few weeks and relax but if you are serious about getting a job in creative, try and apply for an internship in the winter. You’d be surprised, while agencies don’t always list openings, it’s a busy time of year and you might get lucky.

If internships in general don’t work out for you, find someone in college or elsewhere that’s interested in creative and team up to work on your portfolios. It’s a shame that most undergraduate programs don’t offer exposure to copywriting and art direction courses, but it’s important to take the initiative and work on your portfolio independently of school.

If you can’t find someone to critique your work, turn to advertising award annuals like Communication Arts. Looking at award winning work is a great way to learn. I still do it on a daily basis.

Andrea admits she was exhausted when she wrote this – sometimes you run into a demanding client! She adds that her favorites are chocolate, coffee, and especially proof-readers!

“A Day in the Ad Life” prints on Thursdays.




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