5 Tips for Marketing Grads

03/15 2021

I had so much fun participating in the University of Denver’s Advertising Panel this past week. DU students never fail to surprise me with their outstanding passion and smarts. Every question is insightful, and the curiosity is contagious. I just hope my responses do justice in getting these bright young professionals fired up for a career in the best industry ever. Major snaps to Professor Wagz for inviting me year after year. 😊

With this semester’s panel under my belt, I thought my blog might be a good place to post a few of the tips I give these eager soon-to-be grads. So without further ado:

Five things you’re going to learn eventually, so in the interest of time, I’m just going to tell them to you right now.


#1: Yes, that does matter.

This is something someone told me before I graduated, and I’m glad that they did. Resumes matter. Details matter. And yes, typos matter. This is an industry everyone wants to get in on. It’s fun, glamorous, lucrative and full of really interesting people. For that reason, you can not allow yourself to slack. Do all the little things that make you indispensable.

#2: Everyone is creative.

Alex Bogusky one said, and I’m paraphrasing, that we have to stop seeing client comments as less valid than our own. Good creatives live by this idea. The best ideas come from collaboration, so you have to learn to work with all kinds of personalities (maintaining your professionalism at all costs). Give the client, brand manager, account team or even media team a chance to give feedback, because oftentimes it does in fact make the work better.

#3: Get over yourself. Yeah, you.

By my calculations, this industry is probably 80% narcissists. It sucks, but it’s true. It’s very personal work and people take it…well…personally. Especially creatives. You’re selling your ideas for heaven’s sake. But even the most deserving people can be overrun by their egos. I know I’ve done it many times, and the important thing is to catch yourself and learn from it. I say: stay humble. Immerse yourself in other people’s talent. Appreciate it and let it remind you that there are other talented people in the world so that you don’t get too high on yourself.

#4: Be nice.

It really is that simple. Advertising and marketing are social industries, so it’s helpful to be the person people want to have drinks with later. This goes for interviews, work, everything. Do all the little things you think wont help you, like writing thank you notes, keeping up contacts on a regular basis, remember people’s kids’ names. You get the idea.

I’m a solid creative, but I believe there are better ones out there. What many of them don’t have is kindness, which I make it my mission to deliver in spades.

#5: Trust your gut.

I like to throw this one in there to prepare students for what’s to come after they graduate. I wish I’d understood this when I came out of school, and this is much just a personal experience that I’ve learned and thought might be helpful to stress here today. In any industry, but I feel especially in marketing, there are no two companies or agencies alike. Every workplace has a completely different personality, and when you go in for interviews, you have to look at them just as much as they’re looking at you.

I have worked very happily at places for years, and I have also worked miserably for years. I knew those not-so-great places weren’t for me within the first few days of starting. I wish I had trusted my gut and left sooner — graciously and professionally, of course. With that said, you have to be careful with people and your reputation, but there is always a way out if something is not a good fit. After all, if it’s no good, they probably don’t want you there either.

Thank you for having me on the panel, everyone. And for listening to me mutter about nonsense. Hopefully there were some helpful nuggets in there too, and I wish you all the best of luck as you embark on your careers.