Grit, Perseverance and Opportunity: My Path to a Media Career

By Ampersand InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Grit, Perseverance and Opportunity: My Path to a Media Career

Imagine going through life believing that you would never be successful, based on the opinions of teachers, coaches and fellow classmates.  Now imagine proving everyone wrong.  That’s exactly what happened to me.  Consider this story an open letter to anyone labeled as the underdog, the wild card or the class clown.  Know that your dreams of a media career are achievable, but you must be willing to work harder than you ever thought possible.

I wasn’t wired to be a straight-A student, and I was the furthest thing from the teacher’s pet.  School was a constant struggle for me, and I was told by many that I would never be taken seriously in the real world due to my less-than-stellar GPA.  I knew at an early age that I would have to work twice as hard as everyone else in order to compensate for my terrible grades.  I got my first job at a frozen custard store when I was 15 years old, and I’ve been working ever since, including three years as a receptionist at a hair salon while I also worked towards my bachelor’s degree in marketing.

After seven long years, I finally managed to claw my way out of Louisiana Tech University.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I spent seven years of my life working toward a degree that most people acquire in four years or less.  That being said, I will always be thankful for my education, for it taught me patience as well as resilience.  But I can confidently say that out of all my previous work experience, nothing prepared me more for the workforce than running that hair salon in the small city of Ruston, Louisiana.  I learned how to problem solve, multi-task and build relationships.  Of more importance, I learned how to empathize with people I had nothing in common with, and that is something that cannot be taught in a classroom. Empathy is learned through experience, and it is a fundamental component of what makes a successful salesperson.

Shortly after I moved to Dallas, I began my search for entry-level positions in advertising.  I had no idea how long the job searching process would be, so I found a job waiting tables in order to pay my rent.  I received a phone call from my cousin regarding a sales coordinator position at NCC Media and I immediately jumped at the opportunity.  It was my first real post-grad job interview.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with excitement once I received an offer.  I couldn’t believe they took a chance on me, but I was ready to prove myself.  This was my shot, a real opportunity.  I finally had my foot in the door of the advertising world, and I was ready to make a few waves.

My first few weeks at NCC were eye-opening.  I thought I knew a decent amount about the industry thanks to those seven years of college, but my knowledge was only the tip of the iceberg.  I was always so focused on the creative/production side that I never considered the logistics of how commercials make their way to the eyes of the target consumer.  I was fascinated.  I soon discovered that this job wasn’t about selling air time to advertisers.  It was about creating strategic, customized ad viewing experiences, derived from the complex science behind consumer behavior.  Thanks to the help of my sales ops manager and fellow coordinators, I became fluent in the language of media.  Words like “make good,” “hit list,” “traffic” and “copy” were no longer foreign terms.

After my training was complete, I began my role as an assistant for two of the hardest working account executives in the Dallas office.  They remained patient while I adjusted to the fast-paced workflow and gave me advice and reassurance anytime I felt overwhelmed -- which was often, at first.  I had all of my notes from training taped along the walls of my cube, as if I was trying to solve a conspiracy theory.  I stayed late almost every night to study my account lists, the names of the buyers I worked with and the affiliate contacts for all the markets on my team.  I was trained by the best, and I was determined to be one of them.  I was stressed, but in the most exciting way possible.  For the first time in my life, I knew I was on the right track.

I’ve been a sales coordinator at NCC Media for a little over a year and I have learned far more in this office than I ever learned in a classroom.  My prior work experience played a key role in my ability to adapt to the fast-paced, maniacally competitive world of advertising.  For anyone interested in this line of work, know this is the antithesis of the mundane 9-5 job.  It will not be easy.  You will have to work much harder than you realize, but rest assured that you will never be bored.  This industry never sleeps, as it is constantly evolving.  I am so proud to be part of an organization that embraces new ideas and creative thinking.  I was a C-average student from a small town in North Louisiana.  For years I was underestimated by so many and I landed one of the coolest jobs on the market.

Finally, the tables have turned, and I’m only just getting started.

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