How To Write Yourself Into A Job

Rodd Chant, a good friend of mine wrote this piece on how he got his start in advertising. It still holds true today.

Over the years I have been asked by students and others how a roadie/bass player got his start in advertising.

It played out rather unexpectedly; I had gone to an interview at a small advertising agency and took in my folio of ideas. Back then you had a folio of sketched out ads, no Photoshop level layouts; it was all just drawings because (and I still believe this today) a great idea stands out even if only presented as stick figures.

I also included some actual real ads I had done for small clients, but to be honest they were abysmal.

This was my first chance to get my foot in the door at an agency that was doing good creative work, previously I had a little experience at a more retail focused agency, but it wasn’t where I wanted to stay.

To be honest I hadn’t really prepared properly for the interview, but I went anyway, I had no idea what I was doing and that probably showed.

The meeting was courteous but non-eventful, ending with more of a “don’t call us we’ll call you” or “don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out” goodbye.

Deep down I knew I had blown it, I knew my folio wasn’t brilliant…I simply didn’t try hard enough. And I was angry with myself for not being better prepared.

I went home with my tail between my legs; I figured I had three options:

(1) Go to the pub and drink away the memory of what just happened.

(2) Tell all my friends I was offered a job but said “no”.

(3) Fix it.

Option number 3 was the winner, I decided to make amends for my poor performance and set about immediately doing so.

I hopped in my car and headed to a stationery store where I bought a ream of blank photocopy paper, 500 sheets in all.

When I got home I made a pot of coffee and proceeded to write an ad per page, all for the clients at the agency I had just been at. I wrote ad after ad after ad. I worked through the night and into the morning until I had used every sheet of paper.

At 9am I hopped into my car and drove to the agency, when the doors opened I dropped off my parcel with a simple note attached to it for the person I had interviewed with the day before – “Been up all night thinking of you, hope you remember me”, my copywriting has improved since then, I would have written something much wittier today. Of course it also had my name and phone number on it.

By 3pm that day I had a job offer and of course I took it. Some of the ad ideas I developed even got presented to clients.

It taught me some valuable lessons:

  • The world doesn’t owe you anything.
  • Hard work wins out every time.
  • Put in the effort and you’ll see results.
  • Quitters never win.

I did go to the pub that day, not to drown my sorrows, but to celebrate a new chapter.

-Vince Engel


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