People often wonder whether they should attend college, advertising school or neither. Some very successful industry professionals would argue against college. On the other hand, browse the classifieds section of the newspaper and you'll see Bachelor's Degree Required in most Help Wanted ads.
And then there's the old Catch-22. While you've spent four years in college, you don't have any actual work experience. You know the story. Can't get a job without experience and can't get experience without a job.
So what can you do?
If you're in college, take advantage of your internship. Approach your Internship Director (ID) and ask that you be placed in television, radio or an ad agency - whatever direction you want to go after college.
Most will be helpful and try to accommodate your request. If you feel your ID may not work hard enough for you, find the internship on your own.
Call your local television station (or other fields you're interested in) and introduce yourself. Contact the News Director or Production Manager.
Most people will be receptive and will love the fact you're so enthusiastic about working for free!
Internships in the news department are not as common as those in the production department. Don't be disappointed if you enter the production side of news. You'll be able to see exactly how a newscast comes together behind the scenes - an experience that is invaluable.
Once you establish your internship with the station, you can take your offer back to your ID and say you have this opportunity you'd really like to explore. And your ID will probably be very happy because you're one less student she has to find a place to intern.
Follow the advice below for non-college students as well if you can work a part-time or full-time job while going to school.
If you decide not to attend college, another way for you to gain valuable experience is through your local television and radio stations. Even if you have to run TelePrompTer, potential employers go ga-ga over the fact you've worked in TV.
While you're there, make the most of your experience. Tell your boss you want to cross-train.
Most TV and radio stations produce commercials for local clients. This is an excellent way for you to dress up your resume and also make advertising agency contacts.
Get your hands on anything you can and learn about it. And this is another one of those situations where your boss will probably be receptive. You want to learn extra responsibilities and she doesn't have to pay you extra for your work.
Once you've given your resume some strength, you're ready to tackle bigger jobs. You'll have to work your way up but you'll be surprised how quickly you can do it.
Most entry level positions in advertising start in the high teens or lower 20s. This all depends on the area you live in and the particular agency.
Honestly, television and radio stations just don't pay that well unless you're an anchor or an established radio host. Reason being, too many people are beating down the doors just so they can say they work in TV or radio. Employees are a dime a dozen when it comes to TV, which is good in a way. It means you can usually find a job at your local station.
Don't worry too much about accepting an entry level position. You can literally double your salary in a couple of years if you are persistent and hard-working.