Advertising is a hard business to break into, especially in strategy. If you want a way in, the route can be risky. For me, that was taking an internship after graduation. But sometimes individuals break through; sometimes people out there get the full-time job offer. I was determined that the person who would break through would be me.
I’ve always had an interest in persuasion. In my spare time I read books on marketing tricks and tips and ended up majoring in psychology. I wrote my senior thesis on the effects of reference groups in decision-making processes involving non-majority branded goods. While a labor of love and a mouthful of a topic, writing my thesis was the highlight of my academic career. But who was going to pay me to do this for the rest of my life?
Then I met Terry Peigh, the senior vice president and managing director of IPG. Terry was able to expand on the world of advertising for me and was the first person to introduce me to the strategic planning position. He made it very clear from that first meeting that “no one hires junior planners.” Despite this, he decided to introduce me to Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, the chief strategy officer at FCB Garfinkel. After a quick Google search on Kofi, my hands started to sweat. I had no connection to this amazing businessman and I half expected to speak to his assistant and be immediately hung up on.
To my surprise and admiration, Kofi took a considerable amount of time to talk to me on the phone and even set up a time for me to meet the team at the FCB Garfinkel office. The agency and the team got me incredibly pumped up about advertising, but there was no promise of paid work, only experience through an internship.
There are hundreds of agencies out there, but FCB Garfinkel had something unique, an emphasis on behavior change. My not-so-secret love, the core of my nerdiness, everything I wanted to accomplish could be summed up in that one simple phrase.
I rejected full-time offers for the FCB internship and worked as hard as I could during the nine-week program. I found myself becoming more and more comfortable in the office and taking on leadership roles within the intern group. My story came full circle during the last week of the internship when I was led into Kofi’s office and offered a full-time job.
Never say never. Sincerely, your associate strategic planner.