Allison could be a career coach based on how good her instincts are in getting jobs. She graduated Indiana University as an English major ten years ago with a desire to work in the “gerund fields” as she put it: Advertising, Marketing or Publishing.
After a couple years as a sales clerk at Barnes & Noble, a position with her dream company (a very big and well-known media business) appeared on HotJobs.com. She later discovered that she edged out her competition because she was the only candidate that wrote thank you notes. The job description read administrative assistant, but Allison went to work showing them she was capable of a lot more. Within a few years and after a move to company headquarters, Allison created her own position as an ad sales-marketing copywriter. Now she was living all three of her “ing” jobs as she created ads across media platforms.
A Midwest girl at heart, Allison wanted to return to her roots so she began researching cities with big companies and ad agencies plus a rich arts community. Minneapolis made its way to the top of the list with Target and Best Buy headquartered there, several ad agencies and the second largest spend in arts per capita after New York.
Allison asked a former supervisor from her media job to introduce her over email to select people through LinkedIn. Making connections with just a handful of contacts was “a great shot in the arm to be able to work a network and get such a human response.” She talked on the phone with one of her new connections and got valuable recommendations for where to look.
Having just won a cash award at work, Allison bought a plane ticket. Allison sent targeted informational interview requests to the HR professionals who were her age at several advertising agencies. Her thinking was that her current employer would catch their eye and as a peer might have a less crowded inbox and more bandwidth.
This approach worked. She got the attention and a portfolio of her work that she put up on Dropbox got her in the door. She prepared for the interviews by thinking through her answers for questions she would likely be asked. During a great afternoon of meetings with the advertising agency, Olson, she found out about an opening for her dream job, a copywriter on the agency’s Target team. Allison returned home and wrote her thank you notes.
Within weeks, the creative recruiter at Olson reached out and set up a phone interview with members of the Target team. After a successful meeting over the phone, Allison was flown back to Minneapolis for a day, for her final round of interviews. To demonstrate her interest, she created lists of questions tailored to each individual she met on her final interviews. The next day, they called back with an offer, and she was hired.
Six months later, Allison shares that the “whole reason I am here (at Olson) is because I started as an administrative assistant. Look at these jobs as an opportunity to get paid to try other things and prove yourself beyond the job description.”