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Recent Creative Advertising Alumni Find Success in the Workplace

Tough Economy Not a Deterrent to This Sample of Alumni

The job market may be tough for anyone trying to break into advertising art direction or copywriting right now, but that doesn’t mean jobs aren’t to be found. There are always agencies hiring, as long as job seekers look hard enough. Here are the stories of a few ad students whose hard work paid off and made all of those long nights writing copy or Photoshopping well worth it.

Jess Kline (B.A. ‘09):
After finishing her degree at SMU, Jess moved to her parents’ home in Houston to pursue her job search. She managed to get quite a few interviews through networking, but with every interview she had, the disclaimer was always the same. Every agency said they would love to see her work, but they couldn’t hire anyone at the moment.

One morning while Googling agencies in Houston, Jess came across Adcetera and was very impressed with what she saw. It turned out that a long-time family friend had a connection to the owner’s family and offered to write a letter of introduction. Soon after that, Jess became friends with a neighbor who had also just graduated from college and moved back home. While talking to her neighbor about her job search, Adcetera came up, and he mentioned that he was a childhood friend of the owner’s daughter and insisted on introducing them.

Upon briefly meeting the daughter, Jess learned even more about Adcetera, which confirmed her belief that the agency would be a great fit for her. However, Jess also learned about the high volume of applications the agency had been receiving, which meant there was only a small chance someone would pick her resume out of the pile.

Knowing she had to make a great first impression, Jess carefully crafted a letter directly to the owner, Kristy Sexton, explaining the unique circumstances that had led her to Adcetera. Within a day, Jess got a letter from the head copywriter asking her to come in and take a proofing test.

A week passed and Jess didn’t hear back from Adcetera. She followed up only to discover that she scored just below the required level to be asked back for a second interview. Jess was told that, although they saw potential in her, the agency needed someone with more experience, but they looked forward to hearing from her in the future.

Jess decided she wasn’t going to give up and managed to get a second chance with the agency when she offered to work free of charge as an intern to gain more experience. After much discussion about an internship and a third visit to the agency to sit down with the owner, Jess was told that, although she didn’t have the experience they were looking for, she had raw talent, creativity and passion. Jess was offered a two-month contract at full salary, and she gladly accepted for the chance to prove her ability and creativity.

The beginning of March marked the end of Jess’s contract but only the beginning of her career with Adcetera, for she was offered a full-time copywriting position. Looking back on her experience, Jess said that getting a job these days is about getting your foot in the door, impressing the right person and not becoming discouraged.

Jess’s portfolio can be found at

Allie Edwards (B.A. ‘08):
Allie’s job search wasn’t anything unusual - she emailed her contacts in the business, scoured job listing sites, and checked the career sections of agency websites. One day, she came across a job posting on for an art director at a Colorado agency called Cactus. She sent them an email with a PDF version of her portfolio. A couple of days later, Allie received a call asking if she was interested in a phone interview.

Over the next few days, she spoke with the creative director and both associate creative directors over the phone. Cactus decided to fly Allie out to Denver for an in-person interview. In a single day, she flew to Denver, drove to Cactus, met with the creative team there, took an agency tour, had lunch with the creative director and an assistant creative director, and flew back home to California. Cactus was just as she had hoped – she loved the agency and the people who worked there and thought she was a good fit for the position. The morning after Allie got home from her interview, she received a call asking when she would like to move to Denver.

Looking back, Allie said it was her YouTube videos that really set her apart from the competition. One of the assistant creative directors at Cactus had found her YouTube and sent it to everyone in the office. When Allie came in to interview, everyone had seen her videos and was complimenting her on them. After all, not everyone has a YouTube video with over one million views.

View Allie’s most successful YouTube video

Nicole Ido (B.A. ‘09):
After graduation, Nicole spent the next six months searching for a job until she finally found the right one. She said, “It did take a while, it was disheartening sometimes, and it was difficult coming out of retirement at 22, but the result was well worth it.”

During her search, Nicole did freelance work, sent out her resume, and made connections. She constantly emailed agencies that she liked hoping that someone would have an opening. She even emailed agencies that she knew didn’t have any openings, just in case. In response to her hard work, Nicole received many emails asking her to come in and show her portfolio, but also reminding her that they were not currently hiring. Other times, agencies merely said they would keep her resume on file.

Nicole found an opening for a junior copywriter at an agency called Square One while browsing a job search website. The agency was small, but looked to be innovative, so even though the job post required 3+ years of experience, Nicole gave it a go. She emailed the HR director and explained that what she lacked in experience, she made up for in enthusiasm. Nicole managed to land an interview –and started work the next day. She was hired on a 90-day trial period, but her contract has the potential to become a permanent position at the agency. Trial periods are no longer unusual for new hires, because internships have practically become the new first job for creatives. In this economy, young creatives are often willing to take whatever position is available, and many agencies are taking full advantage of that information.

Nicole’s website can be found at:

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