Joint 'Ad'venture: 7 Tips from an Agency

JobHireEcard

As students, our education serves many purposes- but let’s cut to the chase. We’re all looking for jobs, and an agency tour is one of the best (and probably my favorite) way to get insightful advice and find out what the real world does outside of our classroom settings.

If you know me, then you know I’m a huge advocate for an organization that I’m heavily involved in: the Public Relations Student Society of America. I want to spend a moment commending another communication organization, though: the American Advertising Federation. At University of Houston, AAF has a pretty big Chapter and an active one at that. I want to thank AAF for inviting PRSSA on their agency tour of The Black Sheep Agency and especially thank Candace Queen, AAF President, for mentioning it to me the first time we officially met in the communication lab. This was our first event together in a long time and a successful one! The members of AAF were welcoming and I know the PRSSA members who attended are grateful.

Now to the fun part!

The Black Sheep Agency is known locally as the “rebels without a cause”; the free thinkers who ask why but aren’t afraid to ask why not. 

Their motto?

BlackSheepMotto

The Founder of The Black Sheep Agency, Aimee Woodall, and a few more from the flock (Kellie Bramlet, Account Executive and Jessica Bierman, Client Services) sat down with about 45 of us for a relaxed Q & A session about entrepreneurship, agency life and the hiring process. But first, and I can’t leave this out due to my obligation to local establishments, we all snacked on egg rolls and dumplings from Jenni’s Noodle House (which you must try if you haven’t already.) I also have to mention half of a metal bus (yes, life-sized) along the wall with a unique Houston skyline above it that I absolutely adored. The skyline was outlined with nails and filled in with crossing pink strings. Simple but genius.

BlackSheepTour1

So as we sat along with three of the Black Sheep, Aimee provided us with an overview of how she “fell backward” into owning a business, a general overview of the agency itself and where the heart and soul of the agency began. She didn’t want to settle for the status quo. And to her luck, neither did her previous clients. Thus, The Black Sheep Agency was born.

Aimee, Kellie and Jessica took the time to field questions and share the raw, unplugged answers that students really want to hear:

  1. Just put your cover letter in the body of the email. It’s easier than having to attach it anyway, right? You’re creating another unnecessary step for the employer with all those attachments.
  2. Go with your instincts. On the fence about that creative résumé? Decide what you think is best. As Kellie mentioned about her friend- some employers might like it while others may hate it, so know that “if not, it wasn’t meant to be.”
  3. But don’t be overly confident. Even in client presentations, Aimee noted that she was a little nervous. By questioning yourself some, your expectations of yourself may be higher than the other party and prove helpful.
  4. Late nights happen. Think your nights of staying up late to study for that test are over? Think again. You might find yourself spending more time than you had hoped finishing a project, so don’t be married to the clock.
  5. Short, sweet and to the point. You can probably cut down your résumé if it’s over one page. Aimee mentioned that with 14 years of experience, she still uses just one page.
  6. Double up your assets. While a lot of communication organizations fancy a digital presence, a hard copy will never cramp your style.
  7. Be more than another interview. If you get a “yes or no” question, expand your answer. Explain why. Bring questions. All of the girls agreed that not having questions to ask indicates to them you don’t really want to work there.

And this last one seems like common sense to me and was touched on a little bit, but I believe it can never be said enough:

  • Do your research. You want to work at a company? You need to know that company.

By know, I mean digging beneath the surface. Don’t settle for “what” they do- anyone can Google that. “How” they do it? Sure, research their website and talk to employees. But if you want to have a conversation, if you want to engage with your potential employer, find out why they do what they do.

I want to thank The Black Sheep Agency again for having all of us last night and staying late to share these stellar pointers with us. I’m also happy to congratulate two PRSSA members on interning there this semester: Kelsie Ervin and Ilsairis Solis!

What they say about their internship experience:

Ilsairis: “Interning at the black sheep has been great! Staying busy and learning a lot at the same time. I’m lucky to be part of such a talented flock of ladies.”

Kelsie: I’m just a little lamb in training with dreams of becoming a flockstar. Every day is something different at Black Sheep. I’m getting hands-on experience and learning daily tasks of working in an agency. I’m excited to go in each day and just as excited about my future career!”

For those interested, The Black Sheep Agency is hosting an event this Saturday at 6 p.m. : The SADDYs. Check out the link for details!

*Thanks to Gemrick Curtom and Julio Flores for providing the photos.
[Click to enlarge.]

Do you have any other tips you think should be on the list? Have you been on an agency tour and heard some good advice? Share your opinions/info in the comments!

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