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Career options for a creative student

Q: I am a creative twenty-year old college student. I enjoy creative writing, sketching and coming up with ideas. I excel in my marketing classes. I really enjoy brainstorming with fellow students to come up with new ideas and products for class projects. I enjoy interactive marketing as well. I don’t want to be a starving artist when I graduate in two years.

What are some career choices that I can consider? Thank you.


A: Congratulations on finding one of your passions so early in your lifetime! You are fortunate to have found an interest that could certainly evolve into a promising career. Some adults are still searching for activities, hobbies and interests that bring them such joy.

When I read your question, I immediately thought of a colleague who makes a living being creative. Mike Hodgson is a Partner and Creative Director for Cambridge BioMarketing. Hodgson offers, “I've always thought it was important in life to get paid for something you'd pretty much do for free. As a creative director at an agency, I have the privilege of working with smart, creative people who love coming up with ideas and making great stuff every day—and none of us are starving!”

Hodgson continues by drawing a parallel between what you have described and his own personal experiences on the creative end of a marketing agency. “Everything you enjoy that you've described in your question happens on the creative side of an agency. You could choose to be a copywriter, an art director, an interactive designer, or some combination of the three. To get started, all you need is a portfolio, a few email addresses and/or phone numbers, and some good contacts in the business.”

Although working at an agency is perceived as glamorous, many do not understand that working at an agency is demanding. Long hours, ever-changing priorities and tight deadlines are common. Travel to clients sites is often required, whether local, national or international. There are rewards though. Imagine seeing your work in a print, radio or TV ad!

One of the best ways to get a foot in the door of an agency is to first land an internship or summer job while still a student in college. This real-life experience is critical. Many agency employees once worked as interns earlier in their careers.

Hodgson shares one final piece of advice, “Agencies are always looking for great new talent, but don’t get discouraged if it takes some time for you to break in. Look for someone who will give you a chance—and who will be a great mentor to you as you grow.”

Lastly, I have seen a shift in the marketing roles that are in demand. Technology has certainly influenced marketing. I have seen an increased demand for marketing roles where the focus is in the world of search engine marketing, email marketing, web marketing and web analytics.

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