Working industry creatives will tell you that portfolio is how you get into the business. Your professors may have not been as clear on that fact as they wanted you to have a good, well rounded education. Your education is important, but it will not open the door to a creative job.
You need a great, up-to-date, relevant portfolio.
Although more than 170,000 people work in the US ad industry, the creative community is small. Once you're in, you'll cross paths again and again. Make those encounters count.
Has your school introduced you to people, had portfolio reviews and regular guest speakers? Do they have recruiters on staff? Do they help you find an internship?
There's a lot of legwork you're going to have to do at the start to make contacts. Who do you know? Go to advertising events, volunteer at your local ad organization, enter competitions, do freelance contract work - anything to get you in the door.
Timing is more relevant than you think. If an agency lands an account, they are most likely to ramp up and a job will be available. If they lose a client, it really doesn't matter how good your work is - there just isn't a job.
Read the trade magazines like Ad Week and Ad Age. Follow industry blogs like Modern Copywriter. Regularly check agency career pages. Contact and regularly re-contact agencies. Sign up for Google Alerts for Junior jobs so positions come to you. Talk to a recruiter.
Some creative directors won't even respond to juniors unless they make frequent and regular inquiries. Don't stalk, but remember, persistence will pay off.
Need a hand building or finishing your portfolio? We're here to help. Portfolio Studio is the creative hub that brings ambitious students together with working pros for training and portfolio building.