Four ways you can beat the odds and have a great creative career.

Used by permission. © Joel Robison

Used by permission. © Joel Robison

The job situation in the creative industries is tougher than ever. If you’re one of the few who beats the odds here is how you will do it:

1. You won’t count too much on your education. Even the most respected programs aren’t a golden ticket to a job. With very few exceptions, academia’s curriculum for advertising is inadequate. The reason is that academia cannot move as fast as the industry. Two technological revolutions over the last 20 years have transformed the model of advertising agencies. Some practices schools are teaching today are no longer relevant. This results in student portfolios that feel dated. Evaluate your school’s curriculum by comparing it to the latest practices in the industry. If it is lack, supplement your education and skill training and build a more relevant portfolio.

2. You will not act like a student. Become a professional in every way you can. Go to industry organization meetings. Get an internship every year that you’re in college. Read everything you can find on how to be successful in advertising. Most of all, bust your tail and work on your portfolio 24/7. The goal is to make employers forget that you’re a student and a potential hiring risk.

3. You will realize that a portfolio is more than samples of work. Think of your portfolio as everything from the user experience of your website to the content in your résumé. Yes, you should reflect your personality. But only as much as your personality reinforces that you are the best person for the job.

4. You will kill the Millennial stigma. An article in Human Resource Executive titled “The Talent-Job Mismatch” cited a McKinsey study that identified soft skills, such as teamwork, communication and work ethic, as more important to employers than technical skills. In fact, those employers responding to the survey stated that students today are greatly lacking in these skills. Want to stand out from the competition? Put soft skills at the top of your list to master.

Starting your career at the right place increases the probability that you will reach your true potential. Above all, remember that the secret to successfully launching your ad career is to become a professional while you’re still a student.

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