It’s been 1 year, 1 month and 13 days since I was awarded my diplomas and readied myself to leave my favorite place, Athens, Georgia. Athens, “The Classic City”, the city where I had spent the last three and a half years of my life with few responsibilities and a lot of friends. It was time for me to grow up, step out of my comfortable college lifestyle and become “Miss Independent” (shout out to Kelly Clarkson). It was my turn to start a big girl career.
But before I did something crazy like that, I needed a two-week vacation. Two weeks filled with friends, Florida beaches and our last few moments of blissful freedom! Three days into my vacation my father so kindly asked:
“What the hell are you doing?!”
“I am rewarding myself for my grueling efforts of earning a degree, DAD!”
Really, I was avoiding the obvious obstacle of getting a job. The few interviews I had during my last year of college had warranted no job offers, so, I finally started the search in earnest. While searching, I made a point to keep my options open in terms of location and role. I knew I needed a job and was willing to take almost anything, anywhere, just to get started in the working world.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s smart to set some expectations of an ideal job and situation, but also understand that every expectation may not be met in your first job. For example, I was hoping to venture to a new location after college but found that my applications were gaining more traction and interest in places where I had a large pool of connections, primarily, the Athens/Atlanta area.
From those applications came a few interviews. When it comes to interviewing, don’t limit yourself. Take every one you are offered. There’s no harm in taking an interview even if you don’t see yourself in the position. At worst, it provides you with some much-needed practice and experience. In one of my earlier interviews, I was applying for the role of a social media manager and when asked what my favorite platforms were, I so confidently responded with:
“I don’t post on social media that often!”
not exactly the best response for a social media position. I’ll spare you (and myself) the embarrassing explanation of why those words came out of my mouth, and just warn you that not every interview is your best interview. The interviewer isn’t there to trick you (most of the time), so just be on your game and be prepared.
Out of those interviews came only a couple of job offers. And by a couple I mean exactly two. Picking between the two came easily. One of the offers showed obvious advantages in its location, work environment, growth potential within the company, and overall work experience. The other offer was close to my hometown. I didn’t want to be in my hometown dammit! So I accepted offer number one. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I HAD A JOB! AND A SALARY! AND HEALTH BENEFITS!
The new job, the kick-start of my career, was with UTÖKA – a small creative problem solving design firm with big clients (Coca-Cola, Ferrari, Ford, Guinness, NFL, Coors, Miller, etc.), located in the heart of Atlanta. I started my career as an Account Executive on August 3, 2015. My role was to manage projects through understanding and effectively communicating the creative needs of the client to our design team, quoting the job, and overseeing all aspects to make sure we stayed on schedule and within the scope of the original request.
On my first day, I was quickly pushed beyond my normal level of comfort when I was asked to attend a meeting with my boss at Coca-Cola headquarters. Needless to say, I did not speak much aside from a few head nods, the polite “Hi, I’m Kate” and “Thanks! It was nice to meet you” at the end. In the rest of my first week, I learned my coworkers’ names, scoped out the best lunch places and did my best to annoy everyone by asking every question that came to mind. Annoy them, annoy them all; it’s worth it.
As I’ve grown into my position at UTÖKA, I have taken on larger and larger responsibilities—like managing projects for Coca-Cola Global (holla!) — and, as a result, grown more confident in my ability to understand the clients’ expectations. But here, almost a year later, there are still new things that I learn every day. And while I do feel that it is important to go through a system of higher learning, there are lessons and skills you just don’t learn until being in the work place. For instance, my advertising professors never taught me how to estimate the price of a job, set up and run a conference call, how to use specific management programs or what a mechanical file was (email me if you don’t know, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Also, there are a lot of relationship type items that you just can’t be taught in school. To this day I am continuously learning the role that I play in the office and how to work with different personalities and work styles. I’ve also learned how to manage my clients and oversee a job from start to finish. It’s a fast paced industry and knowledge is power. I’ve learned to ask for an explanation if you don’t understand something, you would be surprised how many acronyms people use in everyday business lingo and they always assume that everyone else knows the acronyms. So jot down every acronym!
At work, I do my best to put myself in new situations as often as possible, however uncomfortable or unfamiliar I am with the situation. I sit in on calls and volunteer to attend meetings whether I’m needed or not. I may now know the difference between a static cling and a window cling (once again, if you don’t know, email me, email@example.com.), but I know there is still so much I have to learn and the only way this will occur is if I put myself in these situations and ask questions. Everyone gets his or her start somewhere. I’m lucky enough to get mine in a place with so many experienced and talented people who have answers! So ask questions, ask a LOT of questions.
While most of my projects are pretty straightforward, such as communicating to our designer the clients’ need for new web banners or new point of sale advertising to promote a new offer, there are instances where my creativity can play a larger role. One of my favorite parts of my job is brainstorming with the whole creative team. It’s inspiring to hear them drop amazing ideas so quickly, while I sit on my one or two ideas for half of the meeting hoping that what comes out of my mouth is not a complete flop. I enjoy the environment and the process and do my best to stay up to date with industry trends so I can bring more to the table than just a computer for notes.
I am still finding my fit in this industry and even within my company. I know there is a lot I need to learn when it comes to managing clients, but I know that I’ve gotten a great start. I try not to take for granted the exposure to incredible people and experience that I have gained in my almost one year at this job and I am excited to continue to grow into my role. I am happy to say that I love my job, I love the people I work with and I love the industry I get to learn about every day!
If you are reading this and are about to graduate, or are a recent grad, and have any questions for me regarding the Account Management profession, the design industry in general or if you're simply interested in chatting about the best Mexican food in Atlanta, feel free to reach out to me.
Published by: admin in DESIGN