Advertising, Creativity

Confessions of Don Draper’s Intern

Happy #WellTailoredWednesday! I was fortunate enough to spend three months this summer working at a global advertising agency in the heart of New York City. My experience was definitely more than I had imagined it to be and I made some friends, professional contacts, and memories. Most of all, I learned A LOT!


Here are my 5 tips if you want to start a career in advertising:

1. Organize Yo’self Before You Wreck Yo’self

At any given day, I was Cc’d on about 30+ emails. And I was just an intern. If you really want to be great at your work, organization is crucial. Arrange your email threads into folders depending on the project, have Post-It notes on your desk and make to-do lists, carry a notepad with you all the time, set calendar reminders on your phone, etc. What ever system you may have to keep yourself on top of things, use it and use it religiously. Here are some online tools to help you stay organized that you may want to check out!

2. You Need to Get Coffee Before You Can Pop Bottles

I found that in my experience as an intern, no job is too small. Your primary job is to help your boss and team with their work so that they can best service the client. So what ever they ask you to do, whether it’s to make copies of long PowerPoint decks or to get coffee for an incoming client, you should do it with a smile, as cliché as that may sound. Keep being perfect with the menial tasks and soon your boss will trust you with more important work . Even the smallest jobs matter and if Brian Williams started his career doing them, so can you. Personally, getting coffee makes me nervous—I fear messing up a drink that a lot of people rely on to start off their day!

3. Don’t Try To Get a Job, Make The Job Yours

Though this advice may sound contradictory, hear me out. I’ve noticed too often that we as interns are so desperate to get that offer letter at the end of our internship that our sole purpose is to always impress. What ends up happening is that we forget about what the summer is really about: learning and helping our company. The sooner you change your mentality from “being an intern for three months” to “working full-time for three months”, the more involved you will be and the more you will enjoy your experience. This could mean anything from volunteering to take notes for a separate meeting to going to a charity event after work that’s hosted by another coworker. Make the job yours and take interest in work that falls outside of your job description (on top of your regular duties, of course!). If it will help the team, do it! One intern suggested using Pinterest to show clients all the competitive work on one page and her company still uses it, even though she completed her internship two years ago!

  • Tip: Attending optional after-work gatherings is a great way to make yourself known around the office (hopefully in a good way), especially because other interns usually skip those events. Who knows? You may meet other employees who can vouch for you to HR or even meet a future mentor/sponsor.

4. Give A Little Bit…Give a Little Bit More of Your Critical Thinking to Me

I firmly believe that secretly, clients want to be tested. They want more from their agency than what they let on. By all means, complete all their deliverables, but then give them more. Come up with a few suggestions of what you think will help their business succeed and don’t be afraid to push the envelope. As I’ve been told by a number of my senior coworkers, the best work comes when great ideas are gambled upon. As an intern or entry-level employee your naivety can provide your team a refreshing perspective, so ask many questions and give suggestions.

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5. Keep Calm and Be Nice to EVERYONE

As simple as this may sound, it puzzled me to see how rude some people (both interns and executives) could be to others. A Creative Director once told me that an agency’s “exports” are its “ideas”, and good ideas rarely appear out of nowhere. Instead, they come from constant collaboration and communication within the agency. Sometimes work gets hectic and tensions run high, but it’s important to never take criticism personally and most importantly, to always be polite. Advertising is an industry of high turnover and personal connections are everything. That co-worker you were really nice to may have a friend at a bigger company who’s hiring and may recommend you for that position. Or conversely, the receptionist’s relative may be the HR Recruiter and may blacklist you for being such a snob. Greet everyone and treat them with respect.

  • Tip: Make close friends with the people in the print room, mailroom, reception, and in security. These are the people who ultimately will be completing the final jobs you need to send to clients and come crunch-time, these are the people who can make or break your agency’s execution. Think of it as “having friends in the right places”. Plus, they always know where the goodies of the office are: where the disposable forks are, where’s the best place to get work done, who you can switch conference rooms with, etc.
  • Tip: Don’t forget about HR! Often times, people forget about the person who actually hired them in the first place. Midway through your internship or during the first few months of your career, invite your interviewer for coffee and personally thank them for selecting you for the position. Advertising is a small world and HR people all know each other, so it’s never a bad idea for them to get to know you on a more personal basis.

Thanks for reading! Do you have any more advice for anyone starting out their career in advertising? Please comment below!

Creativity, Sponsored

Keep Calm and Stay Creative

It will happen. At some point in your career, you WILL need to perform under pressure. More importantly, you will need to perform really well. With the high level of competition and the fast pace of today’s world, the need for instantaneous, quality work is greater than ever. And as rewarding as it can be at times, being creative can also be exhausting. Thus, working smarter will trump working harder, especially when you’re under a tight deadline. So here’s how you can stay cool while igniting the spark to fuel your creative fire. (Hint: It’s not as easy as fixing your air conditioner from Cary NC AC Repair!)

Is-Daydreaming-Good-For-You 1.Remember to Daydream

I get it: Deadlines means less procrastinating and more working. But the best creatives in the business value their daydreaming time. Psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan observes that mind-wandering creates a “creative incubation“, which can be used to describe how some ideas reach us “from out of the blue”. Most probably, you have a few minutes in your day to just sit and let your mind wander. Often times, that’s the spark to get the juices flowing. But so many times we hastily rush into the next task, the next meeting, the next email draft because of the pressure to finish everything quickly. Instead, we should take some time to daydream. (Just make sure that your eyes are fixated at an object and not at a person, or else that could get weird.)


2. Get Disconnected

We see emails, phone calls, texts, and instant messages every day at work. But sometimes the best way to get your creative juices flowing when you’re under pressure is to disconnect. And I don’t mean going out for lunch and listening to your iPod. I mean taking a break from it all. No phones, no music, no emails. Just your work. You’ll be surprised as to how much work you can actually get done. In her book, Sleeping With Your Smartphone, Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow talks about how taking a break from your devices can aide originality and collaboration with your team, which may be the key to churning out a creativity idea during crunch time.

3. Sip Your Warm Beverages

In my (long and extensive) experience as an intern and student, I found that the first few sips of what I’m drinking soothes my mind the most. I was never a fan of chugging down energy drinks but whenever I take a few sips of warm coffee or tea, I feel just as relaxed and fresh. Doctors have always recommend drinking warm water with lemon for its nutritional benefits but there hasn’t yet been much research on its effects on the mind. But I can say that it definitely helps me feel like my mind is being reset and refueled, so perhaps it may help you too!


How do you continue to be creative while under pressure? Thanks for reading and please comment below!




Passion’s Pit: The Fuel To Your Creativity

What drives creativity? What makes you be more creative?


Passion leads to new ideas, to perseverance, and ultimately, to success. If you ask any successful leader what drives them, they will most likely tell you that it’s their passion that keeps them going.

The word “Passion” itself comes from the Latin root “pati”, which means “to suffer”. When you’re suffering, the element that helps you overcome this “pati” is your passion. Passion is what helped Gandhi and Dr. King persevere during the worst racial hate of the time. Passion is what drove Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to spent 4 nights working on a prototype, which changed computers forever. Passion is what led Mike Tornabene and Gian Hunjan create Dom Mazzetti. And passion will be what drives YOU, whether you’re training for a 5K or studying for the CPA exam.

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 9.20.45 PMAs young adults, the world is essentially our oyster. For those of us enrolled in school, we have access to a variety of resources to help us pursue what we love. Colleges today have many tools that allow students to pursue what they love, ranging from soccer fields to coding classes. But none of these tools are useful unless we take advantage of them. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re passionate about, just as long as you pursue it. Once you are passionate about something, you will be more creative and more persistent to work hard. Passion is what will generate creativity and what will ultimately lead to your greatness. Don’t know what you’re fully passionate about yet? That’s okay, as long as you treat everything you do with the same high level of intensity that you would use for your own passion. The most important thing is to make it yours and to own it.

So whether you’re in that Operations Management class or blogging in your dorm room, remember to find your passion and exploit it. You’re young, you’re hungry for success, and you have all the tools to make full use of your passions. So in the famous words of a certain global shoe brand, “Just Do It”!

What are you passionate about? How can you be more creative with what you love? Let me know in the comments below!


Advertising, Creativity

Best April Fools’ Day Brand Pranks

Happy #WellTailoredWednesday! In light of yesterday being April Fools Day (AFD), which is one of my favorite unofficial holidays, I wanted to share what my favorite brand hoaxes were. While some companies are usually thought of as serious, profit-driven conglomerates, AFD gives marketers the perfect opportunity to be funny, quirky, or sometimes downright weird with their brand. Here are my faves (in no particular order) from yesterday:

Google Maps– Pokémon Challenge

Gotta catch ’em all right? As a fan of one of the greatest cartoon shows ever, I was super excited to hear about Google Maps’s Pokémon Challenge. To embark on the Challenge, users of the Google Maps mobile application can press “Start” and will soon see different Pokémon in areas around their community. Once they select a Pokémon, they can catch it. If users traveled “across the world, searching far and wide” (Theme Song lyrics!), they can catch all 150 Pokémon. The first Pokémon Master to complete the Challenge will be hired by Google Maps (April Fools!).

Publicis Seattle–Brand Drops

Okay I know that Publicis is in the field of media and NOT in science, but can you imagine how cool it would be if companies could “brand” raindrops? Think about how it’ll sound on the Weather Channel: “And tomorrow we’ll have light rain in the area, sponsored by Coca-Cola” or “The following hurricane is brought to you by Burger King—stay safe, stay dry but as always, Have It Your Way”. It’s utterly absurd. It’s probably bad for the environment. And sure, it adds to that argument of how we can’t go anywhere without seeing advertising. But aside from the moral arguments, think about it from a scientific, and then from a branding aspect, and you may see that this idea is actually pretty neat. I’ll go ahead and say my risqué pun that Brand Drops may very well just be a marketer’s “wet dream”!

 Chegg University–Student-Led Courses

I’ve always been a champion for higher education. And as a student myself, I realize the importance of the courses that I take in college for my career and personal life ahead. Which is why I wouldn’t think twice about enrolling in Chegg’s “Microwavable Culinary Arts” course. There are so many other courses that are just as useful, if not better. “Twerking For The Rhythmically Challenged”? Well, I DO need to hone those skills for my future aspirations! “Strategic Analysis of Streaking”? Yeah I’m sure Morgan Stanley will hire me after seeing that on my resumé. And the fact that these courses are taught by current students whom I can relate to and whom can address all my concerns has convinced me even more to sign up!

What were your favorite brand hoaxes of AFD of 2014? Did you fall for any of them? Please comment below and thanks for reading!



Tesla’s Supercharged (Unofficial) Ad

Last week was my Spring Break and I came across a fantastic article about how two college graduates created a commercial that got the attention of one of the world’s most innovative companies—Tesla Motors. Tesla is unique with its marketing strategy in that it doesn’t pay a dime for advertising and it doesn’t even have an agency on record. Still, James Khabushani and RJ Collins decided to make a video spot for the car company and it eventually landed them a meeting with Tesla’s famous CEO Elon Musk (talk about making it to the top, huh?).

Khabushani and Collins recently started their own production company called Everdream Pictures and spent only $1,500 in creating the video with their 15-person crew:

In my opinion, the actual content of the ad was fairly average. Kid has a dream about going to space, pretends to do so with his imagination, discovers Tesla car, continues innocent imagination, gets caught by dad, dad joins kid with imagination, and end with some quick facts about Tesla. It’s a simple idea that connects people’s soft spots (a cute kid in a shiny car) and their ambitions (who didn’t ever dream of traveling through space?) all in a one-minute video. But I’m more impressed with the passion and drive (pun intended!) that Khabushani and Collins had in making the video. The pair didn’t care if they were marketing for an international car company, they just made it because they thought it was cool and because they really liked making videos. And the results were great. Here’s Mr. Musk’s official Tweet about the video:

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Khabushani was quoted saying, “Kids like us — as long as we have the cameras and creativity — can make anything we want…”, and this is a point that I want to really drive home to readers. As students, we have so much potential to change the world. As Thomas Friedman emphasizes, the world is really flat and the tools are everywhere: our laptop webcams, social media, YouTube, etc. And at this stage in our lives, we have a type of hunger to prove ourselves that is unmatched by people of any other age. We just need to take advantage of our potential and work hard.  So I encourage YOU to do something crazy like they did. Make a video, write a song, or just do something that you like and don’t ever think that it’s too big to do. THAT is the essence of creativity.

Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts below! Stay tuned for next week’s post!

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