Ask Esther // 31

Dear Esther,

I’m a junior copywriter. I live in the US and completed a summer internship at a New York ad agency back in June. That time has since passed, and I’ve been on the job hunt ever since. I’m trying my hardest to stay in New York (I’ll be looking for a part time job after the holidays), but I fear my time is running out. This is compounded by the fear that my work sucks and that I’ll never get hired and get the chance to prove myself.

I still have a lot of ideas swimming around in my head, though. Unfortunately, much like in portfolio school, I have no one to help me flesh them out and/or produce them. I had to self-art direct half the pieces in my book because of a distinct lack of ADs and designers. The results were mediocre at best, but I was proud that I at least got them done and graduated.

My question is this: how do I go about fleshing out ideas when I don’t have the means to produce them or show them off to their fullest potential? I’d love to get them out there somehow, but I fear that mere scripts and descriptive spec work may not be enough.

Thanks for any help you can give me!

Cheers,
Solo Writer

Dear Solo Writer,

The “fleshing out” of ideas can be a tricky path. Your job as a creative in an agency will be to solve problems and briefs. The fleshing out part of the process is something you learn on the job. We want to see how you think, how you write and how you solve problems. Coming up with ideas and retro-fitting them to clients for your folio might gain you attention (and even awards) in the short term, but will not lead to a successful long-term career.

Any Creative Director or Recruiter worth their salt can see the potential in a Copywriter even looking at stick figures and poor art direction. Play to your strengths and don’t worry about what you think is lacking from your portfolio, harness the strengths that are there.

No one expects you to have a fully crafted book of “finished” campaigns that are beautifully crafted.

Show me the fact that you can write. Show me some thinking and problem solving. Make the user experience of viewing your work a delight, rather than a chore to wade through. Too many websites I look at are dense, lacking in any curation, nor have given enough thought to the UX.

So it’s not about the craft, nor the “fleshing out” of ideas. It’s making the most of what you have. Highlight the fact you are self art directing. Amuse the viewer with your attempts to draw if that helps you to stand out. Turn the weakness into a strength.

Begin with an amusing and cracking bio, then take the viewer through a few answered briefs. If you have room left over for some freestyle creative projects then that’s fine as well. Just don’t lead with those.

There are of course Art Directors in the same boat who are looking for a writer, perhaps because their work is “too designy” without one. It is great to team up as the combination can lead to a stronger offering. But keep looking regardless of whether you have a partner to search with.

The job market is tough and getting a break is hard. Persistence is the key. Don’t give up.

And good luck!!

You can ask Esther Clerehan anything about putting your book together, getting a job, what salary to ask for or what to do when someone steals your ideas. Go on, Ask Esther. There is no other creative recruiter with more experience to educate us on the art of the job hunt. You can email her here at junior at wtf@lifeatthebottom.com (wtf null@null lifeatthebottom NULL.com).

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 17/01/2013
Category: Ask Esther
Tagged: .