“I'm an Account Executive at &Barr, a full-service advertising agency in Orlando. My biggest client happens to be Discover The Palm Beaches, the tourism marketing corporation for Palm Beach County. A good part of my job involves helping to bring tourism to The Palm Beaches. It’s a lot of fun working to better the area where I lived and went to school. Plus, I get to visit my old college stomping grounds often when I’m in West Palm Beach for client meetings.”
While I was attending PBA, I participated in 5 internships both on the agency and client side. I started at &Barr 5 years ago right out of college in an entry level Account Coordinator position. I've also held several board positions with the Orlando chapter of the young professionals' organization Ad 2, first as a committee chair then moving on to Vice President. Last year I served as President of the organization and this year I am functioning in a mentorship/advisor role as Immediate Past President.
There are two things I’ve learned that I feel are really valuable for someone just entering the work force: 1) Observe. Observe your work environment. Observe your co-workers. And, especially observe your superiors. Look at their habits. See how they work. Notice what clients like about that and maybe some habits that don’t work so well. By gathering this information, you can create your own work style that combines positive habits from those more experienced that you. 2) Once you have some experience under your belt, think before you ask your superior for help in tricky situations. Granted, there are certain serious circumstances that could arise when you need to get your boss involved. But when there are more minor “issues” that come up, before you automatically reach out to your supervisor asking how it should be handled, pause for a moment and think. Ask yourself, “Is this something I really need his/her help for or am I able to make a decision and handle it myself?” 9 times out of 10 it’s the latter. In allowing yourself to take charge of these types of situations, several things happen: 1) you become comfortable take charge of a situation, weigh all the options and make a quick and firm decision 2) you learn to take responsibility for failures – to accept, learn, make it right and move on, 3) your start to hone your leadership ability and your co-workers and supervisors will take notice. Basically, you’re helping to set yourself up for more responsibility and a leadership role down the line because not only do you have the skills to do so, people also know you can handle it.
"Network. Network. Network."
I would say the greatest preparation I received from PBA in preparing for the professional world was learning how to be comfortable around people and command a room. Prior to my time at PBA I was incredibly shy. Speaking in front of people brought me to literal tears. Through various experiences at PBA I was able to come out of my shell and eventually became very comfortable being in front of people, running projects and giving presentations. Now, in my professional career, I’m running meetings and speaking in front of people on a daily basis and it doesn’t even phase me. Down to its core, I think PBA helped me gain confidence and surety in myself.
Network. Network. Network. I know students hear it all the time and it begins to sound like white noise but I can’t stress enough how important it is. Knowing the right people can mean the difference between easily getting a job after college and struggling to find employment. At the end of the day, you’ll still have to sell yourself in that interview. But knowing the right person can get your foot in the door and give you an upper hand over other candidates. And even after you have a job it’s important to keep your network strong. Join professional organizations. Have lunch with that person you interned with in college. Keep those connections strong and active.
My father has been a great mentor to me from the time I decided to go into Advertising in college into my professional career. Having worked in the same industry for many years, even working on Madison Avenue in New York City and owning several of his own agencies, he has a great knowledge of the business and has been able to give some great advice in areas where I needed additional guidance.
Spotlight posted in December 2017. For current updates from Rebekah, visit her LinkedIn page.