Saturday, February 21, 2015

My First Year In Advertising

1 year. 

It is hard to believe that I have been working full-time at 360i for 1 year. I often joke when I get the message to updated my email password saying, "Yay! I've made it another 90 days." This month my supervisor turned to me and said, " Marissa, if you're proud that you've made it another 3 months then we are clearly giving you the wrong impression."

I can't help but swell up with pride and happiness when I think about the year I've had. To say I've learned a lot would be a remarkable understatement. I'm so thrilled with the journey that has brought me to where I am today. Beginning as a trainee 2 months out of college at a company that not only values innovative thinking, but continuous learning was true blessing. The company culture was a huge player in fostering this year of growth. My first six months included working on two complete different accounts, providing me with diverse experience I could bring with me as I took on my permanent position in September. I'm grateful for everyone who not only noticed my hard work, determination and passion for advertising, but also saw my potential and rooted for me along the way.

Each day I feel privileged to not only do a job that I love and feel rewarded by, but also do it along side a team that inspires me to be the best. I could leave the office after a 12-hour workday with a smile on my face. I never feel defeated by my work, and always look for ways to do something better than before.

To another amazing year of doing what I love with people that inspire me. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

So You Got Your First Job... Now What?

It is still hard to believe that I've already been at my first job for over 3 months now. Time has flown by and graduation hardly feels like a thing of the past. In such a short amount of time I've learned so much. I'm very grateful for the experience I'm having which has really lent itself to not only my professional development but also my personal transformation into a professional. 

As I begin the second half of my program I thought it would be wise to reflect on the things I've learned so far and share the tips I have for those embarking on their first job, as well.

1. Listen
I spend a lot of time in meetings, and at first I used to take them for granted. Often I would go in not really knowing what was going on and had nothing to contribute, so I wasn't truly invested. As I spent more time on the account I grew more familiar with what was going on and began to listen, actually listen. While listening to my colleagues on client calls, leading brainstorms, and discussing current projects, I began to really take-in why they are so good at what they do. When I was finally hearing what they were saying I began to learn even more.

2. Do a little right, it will make a lot of difference
As a junior level employee I am often tasked with some of the most remedial assignments. These things include saving files, updating status docs, getting cupcakes, doing random research, etc. While many of my responsibilities don't require a college degree to complete, it does take a motivated employee to not only fulfill the responsibility, but to do it the right way. The more efficient you are and the more you exceed the expectations with even the smallest tasks, the greater impact they could have on your team, thus demonstrating your value.

3. Anticipate the needs of your team
When you're in a supporting role you report to busy people. Their role as your superior is to communicate what they need from you. Anticipating the needs of those you work with not only saves them time but also shows you're observant and thoughtful. It also shows that you can take direction and use it. This could be something as simple as noticing a scheduled phone call needs a conference room or volunteering to bring materials to a brainstorm.

4. Independent Learning
Remember that professor in college that gave you the option to read the textbook, telling you that it would help you but wasn't necessary to take the exam? In your first job there are no professors to encourage that independent learning but taking it upon yourself to be knowledgeable is key to success. When you're constantly up-to-date about your client, the industry and more, your team will look to you for answers. Another way to establish your value.

Consider setting aside some time each day to educate yourself. Each day I check out at what my clients are doing, what their competitors are doing, what's happening in their industry, what's happening in my industry, as well as general news. Tips for staying up-to-date without dedicating your life to seeking out the information:
  • Google alerts - can receive emails with new articles and such that match specific search terms. 
  • Twitter lists - can create lists of twitter users, allowing you to see just their tweets. 
  • Pick 5 - pick 5 trade publications and/blogs that you scan daily. 5 is realistic amount and will allow for both consistency on important news but some diversity with featured articles. My 5 are: 
    • AdAge
    • AdWeek
    • Mashable
    • Gothamist
    • Variety
    • Honorable mention: New York Times - mostly for theater stuff not job related
5. Be proactive
Speaking up to my superiors has been the hardest thing for me by far. In college I was always in charge, whether it be group projects, student organizations, or my day-to-day activities. Rarely did I have to ask someone for permission, approval or even something to do. It took some time to calibrate the balance between what's annoying and what's proactive. I also had to learn how to approach those I work with and consider approaching those I did not work with.

6. Express Interest
Expressing interest goes beyond liking what you're doing, which you should do to a certain extent, don't get me wrong. Don't forget to also express interest in learning and self improvement. Showing that you care about getting better at your job and helping to improve your team is important. Ultimately, you will not know everything and will not do everything perfectly the first time. Demonstrate that you want to be the best and do the best that you can do and those you work with with value your commitment to endless self-improvement.

First jobs are exciting, especially after how hard you work to get the damn job. I'm doing my best to take advantage of every moment, stay on my toes and just have fun. You should too!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Forget the "What Ifs"

Last night  I saw my first Broadway show in over a year, and for those who know me probably can't believe that it's been so long. Since my last show, I've been in London, poor, in Boston, in Ithaca, and unemployed -- all of which are reasons that kept me away from my beloved Broadway. Though I saw numerous shows in the West End, and saw lovely productions at school, nothing quite felt as magical as last night did. When the prelude began I literally sat at the edge of my seat like a child and didn't budge until intermission.

If/Then, a show written by Next to Normal creators Tom Kit and Brian Yorkey, was absolutely the best choice for my Broadway reincarnation. The show told the story of Elizabeth, a brilliant woman who moves back to NYC  to launch the career of her dreams and find true love after an unsuccessful marriage. At the top of the show, Elizabeth is faced with two simple choices, both of which could change the entire course of her life. From there, two plot lines unfold as you follow alter-egos Liz and Beth, stemming from each choice Elizabeth could have made.

The music, the characters and the performances creatively develop the inspiring notion that in a single moment one could make a decision that determines the direction of their entire life. The show asks the audience to think about fate, destiny and true love. The message of the show, in my opinion, is to stop getting wrapped up in the "what ifs" of life. We can all look back at moments in our life and think about what if we had made a different decision, then  we wouldn't necessarily be where we are today.

Not only was this such a "feel everything" musical, which I absolutely loved, it had a story line and characters that I could relate so much to. I connected with Liz and how resistant she was about falling. Between her track record, career aspirations and fear of heartbreak, I knew exactly how she felt. I also connected with Beth who sacrifices her relationships for her career but is still fulfilled by her contributions and success. I connected with that idea that even though heartbreak is painful, if given the choice to love that person again you wouldn't even hesitate.

So many people have asked me why I love theater and seeing shows like If/Then remind me why. Theater has the power to make me laugh, cry, think, and smile.

If you can, go see If/Then. You won't regret it!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Intern Who Cried Wolf

I can't believe it's been over a month since I started my job. It feels like just yesterday that I was attending new-employee boot camp and orientating myself to my account teams. Now I truly feel like a real working woman. Each day is a unique learning experience and I truly feel privileged to work with such friendly and talented co-workers.

So far the biggest obstacles I've faced have been establishing my position on the team and keeping myself busy. When you take on a new position on-boarding can be difficult. It is necessary to not just feel accepted by the people you work with but also to take on a role that contributes to the team's goals.

Being a part of a program like the brand new trainee program, there is no precedent in regards to what role an account trainee fills on their assigned account team. It is up to the account team and the trainee to really mold what that looks like -- something new to both myself and those I am working with. This is both a opportunity and a challenge. 

My first instinct when I didn't have work to fill my day was to wait and see what my supervisors would give me. I figured if they had work that they need to have done and I was qualified, then they would offer it to me like a present.  I waited and waited and waited. Soon I realized that wasn't going to work.

My second instinct was to go and talk to someone about the fact that my days were unoccupied and I felt very disconnected from my team. I consulted other trainees about my decision to speak up and went as far as drafting an email. Even though I had their support regarding my decision to speak up, I ultimately I decided not to send the email.

It occurred to me that a helpless intern with no courage would do that. I was no longer an intern and that was by far what I wanted to prove to my teams. Running to upper management could have solved my problem but would have dropped my teams confidence in me. I am better than that. I'm stronger than that.

After having this epiphany, I made the conscious decision to make the effort to stay more connected to my team, check in regularly and be proactive. The only one being affected by my lack of gusto was myself. Since making this small change I've already seen a great difference in my teams confidence in me, handing me more work than ever. Their confidence in me has ignighted confidence in myself.

Don't be the little intern that cried wolf. Instead be the confident full-time employee that demonstrates her interest, availability and commitment. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Journey to Health, Fitness & Confidence

March 2009
To many, I'm perceived as a confident young woman with a strong head on her shoulders. My face rarely wears anything but a smile and I enjoy spreading optimism.

Many are unaware that below the superficial confidence once was a somewhat fragile teenager who battled with self confidence due to such issues as her weight since
age 13. Puberty was not kind to me and as I entered my teenage years my weight escalated. I was left alone to deal with the issue and instead of seeking out help I turned to food as a comfort. I was trapped in a sick cycle. The more weight I gained, the more depressed I was, and the more I ate. At one point, I quickly ended a high school relationship when I couldn't justify why someone would even care about my "fat self."

My eating habits got worse and ultimately I was lying to myself. I wanted so badly to be this healthier person, but I wasn't taking the necessary steps to get better.

July 2013
College is what really saved me. Leaving home and my previous lifestyle behind me, I was able to begin my transformation. I loved everything about my new life. I loved my major, my classes, my friends, and even the person I was becoming. Soon the gym became my liberator. Spending an hour there revived my spirit. No matter what kind of day I was having, when I walked out of the Fitness Center I always felt better. Since starting college back in August of 2010 I've lost almost 30lbs. I'm proud of the progress I've made.

January 2014
Now I'm starting another chapter in my life, and I know that long work days and an hour commute will put a strain on my motivation to visit the gym. Personally, I'm a goal setter. If I set a specific goal with defined stipulations, I'm bound to achieve it. So I'm launching my "Journey to Health, Fitness and Confidence" starting on February 24th. My journey will be a pledge to go to the gym 5 times a week until Senior Week (May 12). Each gym visit will be for at least an hour in which 30 minutes are dedicated to cardio. Each missed workout will result in no drinking for a week. Additionally, I plan to cut approximately 7,000 calories per week. I will maintain my vegetarian diet while trying to cut out any unnecessary snack consumption.

I could easily attach a weight goal to this journey but honestly I want to achieve true confidence and a healthier lifestyle. I want to break bad habits and create fun new ones. I just want to feel good and be happy with myself.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Happy Ending to My Cinderella Story or Just the Beginning of My Fairytale?

Me as a Disney Princess
Once upon a time, in the east coast village of East Brunswick, New Jersey, lived a young maiden...

Alright, so here is how my Cinderella-story of a job search ensued...

After I got back from my trip to California, life was kind of a bummer. My friends were all away at school, and my dream job appeared to have vanished into thin air. I decided to relaunch my job search, in hopes of finding another opportunity. As each day passed I kept telling myself that "everything happens for a reason."

Almost 3 weeks into my new search I stumbled upon this stellar job opportunity for recent grads on LinkedIn, and immediately applied. Within the hour I had an interview offer, definitely a new record. After postponing my interview for snow, I was a ball of nervous energy when I sat down with my first of 6 interviewees. Each interviewer spoke so highly of the agency, and just beamed with absolute pride for what they did. I've never heard so much genuine positivity while in an interview. Each moment I spent there I relaxed more and more and had no qualms about being myself.

When I left the interview I immediately called my dad with frustration. I had been doing so well with not getting too emotionally attached to any of the positions I'd been interviewing for, in fear that I would not get an offer. But something felt so different about this interview. For the first time I actually believed myself when I said, "everything happens for a reason." I believed that I was meant to get this opportunity. 

On my commute back home I rethought every question and answer and for once I didn't feel too ashamed or embarrassed by what I said. I was able to be myself through the entire interview process and ultimately felt like that was all I needed to be. My jokes were laughed at and my experiences were commended. I put myself out there and did everything I could to prove that I was ready to learn.

I'm not sure if it was just everything going on around me, but I was more relaxed when waiting for my verdict. Maybe it was because I knew there was nothing more I could do. Ironically, I was at an advertising career fair when I received the call with the offer and almost peed my pants (well, dress) with excitement. 

And that's how the fair maiden of East Brunswick, New Jersey lives happily ever after... or does she?
I would like to think that this is just the beginning of an even more exciting fairytale to come!