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TALES OF A BUDDING (M)AD MAN. by James Jackson, intern

The game of advertising is a little more fickle than most. One phone call could mean life or death for an agency. Finance on the other hand, is known to be a strong industry, with great job prospects and virtually no ceiling on salary. So why the hell would I, a finance major, choose an internship in advertising over one in finance? Sounds crazy, but let me walk you through it.

At the end of my spring semester, with no job prospects and on the last legs of an internship, I decided to spruce up the résumé and pound the proverbial pavement. After two months and four failed interviews for jobs I was grossly overqualified for, I had nothing. Only a few summer months stood between me and my last semester of school.

During a meeting with several classmates, I sat back listening to stories of their lofty summer ambitions, and began to wonder if the field I’d dedicated so many hours to for the past four years was really what I saw myself doing for the rest of my working life. My dad had warned me about the corporate culture in which he spent 36 years of his life. I felt the need to prove him wrong. Then suddenly, I didn’t. Better late than never, they say, but four years late?

I had no experience, just an assortment of job titles that seemed to fit. So there I was, staring at a computer screen. The only tab open in my browser was an email addressed to a local ad agency containing phrases like “unpaid intern” and “for experience.”

At the very least, I thought, I would learn something.

A couple of days later, I got an enthusiastic email requesting that I come in the following week. Ironically enough, the next day I got an email from a corporation about a finance internship I’d applied for months ago, offering me the position. I could start the following week.

Just knowing that it took someone over a month to respond made my decision easy.

I can’t tell you exactly why I thought advertising would work – maybe the right mix of instincts, good timing and desperation. But I can tell you that after a few weeks wading in the shark-infested waters of advertising, I just want to learn how to swim.