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Meet an Advertising Team!

Teamwork...And Play!

The Hadrian's Wall ad agency team: (l-r) Natalie Pless, Andrea Floren, and Elizabeth Brown 

You’ve probably thought about your future career, but have you ever thought about your future co-workers? Being a team player will probably play a big part in excelling in your field.

Meet a team of advertising powerhouses—check out their individual career profiles, and then find out the kind of teamwork it takes to produce the ads YOU see everyday!

FirstName LastName

...An Art Director 

For art director Andrea Floren, it was networking with a fellow passenger on an airplane that led to her career! Art directors like Andrea partner with ad copywriters to create the visual design of ads.

Describe your job and a typical day at work.

I’m an art director. People always ask me what exactly that is because the title is a bit of a mystery! An art director is one half a creative team (the other half of the team is the copywriter) that, together, concepts ideas for ads. It could be a print ad or a television commercial, something for the internet or some other kind of communication.

There is hardly ever a typical day at work, which is what I like best. One day I could be sitting at a coffee shop with my partner, thinking about ideas all day. Another day I could be out at a photo shoot watching the photographer bring our idea to life. And yet another day could be spent sitting at the computer, designing layout after layout, trying to find the best design to communicate the idea as well as look sharp and fresh.

How did you prepare for your career? Did you earn a related degree, take classes, or get special training?

I went to college and received my Bachelor’s degree in advertising. To get a job as a creative [a designer, art director, or writer] it’s really important to go to a portfolio school, which is a two-year program where you intensively work on your portfolio.

When did you figure out what you wanted to do? Did it take you some time to figure it out?

In college I knew I wanted to do something where I was creating. I chose advertising not knowing quite what was involved but knowing that I was interested in writing and art. I took fine art classes and classes that taught design programs; I took writing classes too. I still wasn’t sure what I specifically wanted to do but knew I was in the right area.

I didn’t know what an art director was (or that the job even existed!) until I was on a flight to Chicago to visit my uncle. I sat next to an art director from a well-known Minneapolis ad agency. He saw me reading my advertising homework and started to ask me questions. He invited me to contact him if I’d like to talk more about art direction and go on a tour of his agency. I learned more about the job and how to get into it. It’s because of him that I applied for Miami Ad School to become an art director.

What advice would you offer to girls who are considering the same career?

Find out what makes you unique as a person and put that into your work. At the end of the day, who you are is what will get you the job: how you think, how you approach things, your own unique voice and perspectives on the world and how that comes across in your work.

How do you balance your work and personal life? When it’s time for fun what do you like to do?

The agency I am at now understands the need for a personal life. I’ve learned it’s important to work at places whose viewpoints and values line up similarly to yours. I like to go check out the latest museum exhibits, go see new bands, read as many books and magazines as I can, take a dance class or an art class or a foreign language class.

FirstName LastName

...An Advertising Account Planner

When Elizabeth Brown was in college, she loved observing and analyzing people as part of her studies in Sociology. Now, she puts her people smarts to work every day as a strategic planner at an advertising agency, where she devises plans for ad campaigns.

Describe your job and a typical day at work.

I work in advertising as a strategic planner. The thing I love most about my job is that there really is no “typical” day at work. If I had to describe what I do on a consistent basis, it’s essentially coming up with ideas for different clients that make sense for what they’re trying to accomplish and will help to get them noticed by consumers.

How did you prepare for your career? Did you earn a related degree, take classes, or get special training?

In college, I was an English major and Sociology minor. Looking back on it, I think my Sociology classes were preparing me for my career before I even knew what I wanted that career to be – I just loved the opportunity to try and figure out people. I considered myself well-versed in the art of ‘people watching’ and found myself wondering if there was actually a way to make a living out of it. I had always been pretty interested in advertising but had never actually taken any related classes.

After graduating, I realized that my initial plan to dazzle people with just my personality may have been a bit naïve. To get hired in a competitive field such as advertising, you actually need to bring some experience to the table. So, after meeting with a family friend who was working at a big agency in Chicago, I decided to go to the VCU [Virginia Commonweatlh University] Adcenter and get my Master’s degree in Mass Communications. At first, because of my English background, I thought I might venture down the copywriting path. But then I learned about the field of account planning and felt like it immediately clicked with my personality.

When did you figure out what you wanted to do? Did it take you some time to figure it out?

Until the end of my senior year of college, I really had no idea what it was I wanted to do. As graduation loomed in front of me, I figured it was time to really sit and think about the types of things I’d like to do on a daily basis and how I could roll everything I’d learned and loved about English and Sociology into an actual career. When I honed in on advertising as a potential career, I went and talked to as many people as I could to try and get a real understanding of whether or not this was something I could see myself doing

What advice would you offer to girls who are considering the same career?

Be persistent! Advertising is an industry that is entirely “feast or famine”—at times, there are tons of jobs available and other times there will be none. It can be incredibly deflating to meet with person after person and hear that there are no openings but you’ve just got to keep pounding the pavement and seeing what’s out there.

Find a trusted group you can turn to for advice among these people you keep meeting with. Guidance from people who actually know what they’re talking about is absolutely invaluable and will definitely serve you well along your career path.

How do you balance your work and personal life? When it’s time for fun what do you like to do?

Balancing work and my personal life can sometimes be a challenge. It’s important to find a job and a boss who understands how important the work/life balance really is.

When I do have free time, I spend it with friends, enjoying live music, running, reading, seeing movies, traveling – really, there’s not much that I don’t enjoy doing. And I find that the things I do in my free time definitely contribute to the work that I do – after all, how do you know the best way to appeal to the outside world if you’re not out there experiencing it?

FirstName LastName

...An Ad Copywriter 

Natalie Pless is a Southerner who recently relocated to Chicago to start a job as an advertising copywriter. Copywriters like Natalie are the minds behind catchy slogans and witty ads!

Describe your job and a typical day at work.

As an advertising copywriter there really isn’t a typical day. That’s probably why I enjoy my job so much. If I had to describe my typical day this is what if would look like:

NOTE: Natalie gave Girls Inc. Online an hour-by-hour play-by-play of her daily routine—here are some highlights!

6:15 am – Elizabeth picks me up at my apartment for our pre-work run beside Lake Michigan.

9:00 am – At my desk, ready to check emails and return phone calls

10:00 am to noon – Elizabeth briefs Andrea and I on our next agency assignment. Elizabeth has figured out what we need to say about our client, who our target should be, how we should approach the problem, etc.

1pm- 5pm – Concept with Andrea. Come up with ideas for TV commercials, print ads, billboards, etc.

6pm – 10pm – Cook dinner with my fiancé, listen to some music, play some cards, water my plants, clean the dust bunnies out from underneath my sofa, watch a movie, read a couple chapters in a good book, go to bed.

How did you prepare for your career? Did you earn a related degree, take classes, or get special training?

I graduated from the University of Tennessee in May of 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. After graduation, I attended Miami Ad School in Miami, FL where I studied copywriting for two years. While at Miami Ad School I participated in a study-abroad program in London. I also interned and traveled to polish my portfolio.

When did you figure out what you wanted to do? Did it take you some time to figure it out?

Yes, it definitely took me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. Growing up I always thought I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. I interned at a broadcasting station during my freshman year of college and quickly learned that, although I loved journalism, I wasn’t as crazy about the broadcasting side. Interning early in my college experience saved me from spending four years studying the wrong thing.

Soon after my internship, my college English professor pulled me aside and said, “You’re a pretty good writer…you should consider writing as a career.” She then sent me a list of writing careers. Everything from novelist to technical writer to advertising copywriter was on the list. I decided a life in advertising sounded like fun.

What advice would you offer to girls who are considering the same career?

Work hard in school and in life, but don’t forget to have fun! Advertising is a business, but it’s not brain surgery. Have a sense of humor about it, and hopefully you’ll find that you love going to work everyday.

If you want to be a writer, I’ve found that reading has helped me tremendously. Reading gives you a terrific glimpse at how fellow writers use words. I’ve found reading is one of my most valuable tools. Magazines, books, pamphlets at the doctor’s office, and bubble gum wrappers – all of it influences my writing.

How do you balance your work and personal life? When it’s time for fun what do you like to do?

I balance work and my personal life by leaving work at work. Some of my favorite ways to pass my personal time are: jogging, reading a great book, starting art projects I know I’ll never finish, making up songs about my dog and making my fiancé listen to them, cooking southern soul food, eating southern soul food, getting a pedicure, bargain shopping at vintage stores and sale racks, cheering on the University of Tennessee Volunteers, and (until October) planning my wedding.

FirstName LastName

Meet the Team! 

Fulfilling individual responsibilities will only take this team so far—keep reading to find out how Elizabeth, Natalie, and Andrea rely on each other every day!

How do you balance the tasks you have to work on independently with the work you have to do as a team?

Elizabeth: Generally, I’ll go off on my own for a while to do the necessary research and think through what idea I’d really like to focus in on. Then it’s time to talk through everything with Natalie and Andrea, and see if my idea is one they feel has merit. From that point on, we essentially work as a team and I’ll provide input and feedback where I can along the way.

Natalie: The best way to balance my individual tasks with my team duties is to always be a good communicator. Elizabeth, Andrea, and I always talk to one another to make sure ALL of the agency’s work is getting done – not just our individual assignments and not just our team assignments. It’s all about communicating, being honest, and keeping the entire team in the loop.

Andrea: In the beginning of a project the work starts out more as a team. As we’re developing ideas we work both together and separately. Sometimes it helps to think alone and meet when you can bring ideas to the table, and sometimes it helps to just sit down together with blank paper and start spouting out ideas.

What is your favorite part of working in a collaborative, team-oriented environment?

E: I’d have to say my favorite part of working in a collaborative environment is the constant stimulation. You’re always able to bounce thoughts and ideas off of others, keeping a running conversation going.

N: I love listening to different opinions and different ways of thinking; it’s more interesting that way.

A: My favorite part is being surprised. I’m constantly surprised at ideas that my partner comes up with.

What are some of its challenges?

E: This type of environment can also be distracting at times. There are moments where you’re having such a good time that you forget you’ve actually got a job to do!

N: The biggest challenge? For the three of us it’s probably staying on task! Sometimes we get distracted talking about celebrity gossip, movies we’d like to see, and shoes we’d like to buy…

A: The biggest challenge is what to do when we’re stuck. There are times when an assignment might be really hard and neither of us can come up with anything interesting! It’s hard to motivate each other, to stay positive and try to think about the assignment in new ways.

What are some of your past experiences that have helped you become a better team player?

E: Any time you’re in a crunch, like where you’re preparing for a big meeting, helps you to become a better team player. Basically, all daily roles and responsibilities are thrown out the window and everyone does what they need to do in order to be prepared.

I think working at a smaller agency has also helped me to become a better team player. I mean, for one thing, we have ‘kitchen duty’ where once a month, it’s your turn to clean the kitchen! At a small agency, you become much more inclined to look out for the agency as a whole (kitchen included) rather than solely yourself.

N: Growing up, my family owned a drive-in movie theater in Asheville, NC. For as long as I can remember, my family ran the entire operation. My sister and I worked in the concession stand spinning cotton candy and frying funnel cakes. My dad worked in the ticket office and managed the business. My grandmother was the accountant. We all had a hand in it. I learned at a very young age that teamwork is essential to success.

A: Portfolio school helped me learn the importance of good team dynamics. Sometimes I had partners whom I clicked with and other times I had partners who weren’t doing their part. It all made me think about what makes partnerships work.

Do you all hang out outside of work? What do you like to do as a group when you’re outside of the office?

E: I think any time you work in a field like advertising, you’re dealing with similar personalities. Add that to the amount of time you spend working together and you’re very likely to develop friendships with your coworkers. Natalie, Andrea and I have gone to concerts, movies and dinner together. We’ve also begun to dabble in the art of karaoke as a group.

N: I just moved to Chicago in September, so I know very few people here outside of work. Andrea and Elizabeth are two girls I quickly became friends with upon moving and ones I know I can call if I want to see a girlie movie, eat some over-priced sushi, need a Valentine’s Day date, or all of the above.

A: In our jobs you work so closely together that it’s hard not to become friends with each other. We all have friends outside of work but sometimes it’s fun to go out together and do something un-related to work. We’ve taken dance classes together, we’ve gone out to lunch and movies. Elizabeth and Natalie have even run a race together.

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