How do you get your foot in the door at an ad agency?

We recently opened the forum for emerging designers to tweet their burning questions to Ram Castillo, career expert, senior designer and author of How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed . Tweet your questions about scoring a great design job @thegiantthinker and check back here to read his insights.

“How do you get your foot in the door at an ad agency?” —@sarahjsmith29

I got my start at renowned agency Ogilvy & Mather and went on to work for agencies like DDB and McCann World Group, so speaking from personal experience, there are three doors: the first is the front door, the second is the side door and the third is the back door.

Entering through the front door is incredibly rare when starting out in the industry. The chances of scoring a job this way are about the same as ringing the door bell to a private party hosted by Katy Perry and walking right in. You need a certain level of experience, talent and established contacts.

The side door is a more likely way in, which is what worked for me. It's taking an entry-level position that isn't directly related to design. In short, working in the mailroom, in reception or as an office assistant for about 12 months is a common way to get your foot in the door at an ad agency. It's a small sacrifice with big returns. You’re exposed to agency process and many talented creative thinkers and doers. On top of that, you get to network with some highly influential people in the industry.

This leads me to the third door: your connections. The ad agency world is small, so it's important to grow your network. People are opportunities. If you know someone that can get you straight in, you're potentially skipping the queue altogether as they escort you through the back (think of it like the VIP entrance) and give you a solid recommendation.

Whichever door you end up going through, make sure you demonstrate your initiative, a hunger for learning, and gratitude for making it across the threshold.

For more, pick up a copy of Castillo's internationally and industry-acclaimed book How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed .

About the Author:

If you'd like to be a designer, read Ram's internationally industry acclaimed book here:


Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, Instructor and Author of the internationally acclaimed book 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, and Apple. 


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