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Aug21

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Making A Connection

FallForum_FB_Blog

When we prepare to leave college and begin to search for a job, unless you're destined for the family business, most of us have to make our own way - and that means making our own luck.  We have to rely on our college classes and all that we've learned to point us in a direction we believe we want to go. Most students start with a resume, listing their graduation date and GPA (if it was high), and any honors they received. They add in their work experience, mostly part-time jobs at restaurants and bars and maybe a student job on campus. They list the clubs and organizations they belong to and they describe their volunteer activities. They talk about their skills, their ability to be quick learners and multi-taskers and their attention to detail.

And while this is necessary, it's only the beginning, and it doesn't set you apart from the masses.  The critical part of one's job search, that can't be addressed with a resume, is the ability to network to make connections. Personal relationships may not seem important when you leave school. One may think that fellow students can't help because, after all, they're looking for a job too. And while there will always be competition, the guy down the hall in the dorm may be the next Mark Zuckerberg and be in a position to give you a job someday, so you better stay in touch. Don't underestimate the impact that connections have on your career. Attending industry events, asking for informational interviews, meeting new people, asking for advice, and seeking mentors are all ways to gain unpaid yet invaluable experience in a tight job market. In this month's online Harvard Business Review, professional blogger Kathryn Minshew says, "NYFO - Network Your Face Off" - http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/10/the_serendipitous_entrepreneur.html. Her advice is to ask for and go to as many meetings and events as you can, even if it's not completely clear what may come of it.

At RT, we know how hard it can be to make that phone call or send that email asking for an informational interview. It's intimidating, and that's why we created the Fall Forum 6 years ago. We saw an opportunity to share our work and vision with kids who had no idea what it was like to be inside an advertising and marketing firm. We knew that if we could just get them here, they would see what it's like and they could begin to make those oh-so-important connections that might one day lead to a job, or better yet, a successful career in the business. And not to boast, but we were right. We have seen the light bulb go off for kids as they sat and listened to an art director review their portfolio, or heard Tim Rodgers describe his beliefs about merit, or took a tour of the agency and thought "yeah, I belong in a place like this." And the smart kids are the ones who follow up afterward with a thank you note, or a call to say how much they got out of the event, or even a quick email. They understand the value of the connections they made that day. They know that the experience at the Fall Forum gave them a new perspective, a new set of professional contacts, and a leg up on ol' Zuckerberg down the hall.

Interested in attending the #RTFallForum on November 16? RSVP at facebook.com/rodgerstownsend and click on our Event page.

Click here to join our Students Exploring Advertising Careers group on LinkedIn for questions and discussion about life in the advertising business.


Motivation / Inspiration

I love Oprah. Go ahead, judge me. I don't feel a bit guilty about the pleasure I get from her shows. I love every over-the-top moment, from the scream-inducing giveaways to the broken family cry-fests. I'll watch 'em all. And damn, that woman can tell a story. But when I happened upon one of her "life classes", shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) featuring Tony Robbins, I said, "Whoa. Too much." Too many big white teeth in one room. How many huge personalities can one show support without egos exploding live onstage?

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is famous for his inspirational infomercials boasting big results for people he's helped pull out of poverty, despair, drug addiction and other afflictions. Starting in the 80s, he sold countless audio tapes and books and now travels the world, encouraging throngs of admirers to "Unleash the Power Within". Are you failing financially in Fiji? Tony can help! Are you stuck in a rut of misery in San Jose? Tony can help! His website shows upcoming events with titles like "Date With Destiny" and "Life and Wealth Mastery". Who wants to master life? Me! Me!

My initial reaction was, no way. I'm not watching this crap. This is far beyond anything Oprah would do and therefore out of my range of inspirational TV-watching capabilities. I told myself I'd give it 15 minutes and be done. But 15 minutes went by and before I knew it, I was into it. And Oprah was too. She'd planned to attend one of his live events, take a few notes and go home. Before she knew it, she was bawling like a baby. And so was I. He sucked me in because, like Oprah, he has a firm grasp on the human condition. He verbalizes the things you would never say, he confronts the pains you never could and he actually tells you what to do about it. It's up to you if you want to take his advice, but he's the one standing on a stage in front of thousands of people (at $800 a pop), cavorting with Oprah, and you're not. By the end of the show, Tony had Oprah and hundreds of others walking across fiery hot coals. Do I want to do that? No. But are there other things we can all do if we push our own limits? Absolutely.

Oprah