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Miami Ad School Account Planning Tips: Part Two

Since graduating Miami Ad School's Account Planning Boot Camp back in December 2010, I've gotten a considerable number of emails from people about to attend the program, asking for advice. So, I thought I'd create a Part Two to answer their questions. Check out my original post from February 2011 that outlines some basic advice on what to do before and during the program. Then peruse some of my posts under Advice. Apologies for the missing pictures but they got lost when I switched blog names. I give advice for doing job searches and general networking, but I encourage you to read [amazon_link id="0385512058" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Never Eat Alone[/amazon_link] by Keith Ferrazzi. You should also check out the videos under the same category done by PSFK and RedScout.

If you don't come from an advertising background, immerse yourself in all things advertising. Sign up for newsletters from Ad Age, Ad Week, Creativity and even PSFK. I find the free information particularly helpful and anything else - I usually don't have time to read. You can also check out Junior Strategy for more information specifically about planning.

Clean up your online presence and make sure it's professional. How would you brand yourself? You had to brand yourself for the application and now think about your Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles. I found these social networking tools were a great way to meet future employers. Figure out what your "secret sauce" is. Are you a fantastic writer? Do you come from a film background and can emphasize your storytelling abilities? Are you a digital and social media wiz? Employers are looking to easily say, "oh, so and so is great with quant" rather than finding the jack of all trades.

It's been two years since I attended the course and I can't be sure what the current curriculum is, but be sure to remember that the world of strategy extends beyond being an account planner who briefs creatives to make print, web and television commercials. You could be a brand strategist, a social media strategist, content strategist, community manager, innovation strategist.. the list goes on. Make sure these possibilities are addressed in your program.

While the Boot Camp gives you an extra edge, it's no guarantee to getting a job right away. Generally you're surrounded by teachers from top agencies and taught the idealized version of planning where difficult clients, budgets and regulations don't apply. But when you graduate, you have to start somewhere and you're better off taking an internship, junior planning position, or planning position at a less desirable agency than waiting for the perfect job to open up. International students will have a harder time finding a job in the U.S. because they'll have to convince employers to sponsor them, but I suspect employers like having an international perspective from their planners so at least that works in their favor. Employers seem to want people who are young, fresh out of school and willing to intern or work for less money especially if it's a big or hot agency. Those who've switched careers and are in their late 20s/early 30s have to carve a more unique path to finding a full time job; one that might involve more contract work or taking a decent salary cut.

Finally, be incredibly proactive in your job search. Have an idea of what agencies you want to work for beforehand. Start going on informational interviews with recruiters and agencies. Keep them posted on your graduation date and make sure to follow up. The advertising world is rapidly changing as budgets move more towards digital and clients expect measurable results. Consider working on the client side, working for a startup, or in other strategic capacities that utilize skills learned at ad school. You're about to pursue a coveted job in a very competitive industry but the possibilities are endless so get cracking.