How I started my career in Advertising
So, it was me one year ago, the man on the left edge of the photo who didn't seem to be part of the team. Yes, one year ago, right at this period of time, I, together with other 4 members, won the Championship of the Vietnam Digital Challenge. It was the proudest and most honourable prize that I have won in my entire life. Remembering back then, the feeling was amazing. I thought my career would have an easy start.
After winning the Prize, I started working for an Account internship at a digital marketing agency. To be honest, the experience was not as I expected. There was too little work, and I believe the whole period was a complete waste of time. Maybe in terms of experience, it gave me some valuable ones. At the time, I was hungered for knowledge and experience, asking people in the office for work. Unfortunately, everyone was busy, and the company did not have a proper system for training and appointing tasks for the interns.
Ending the internship period one month shorter than expected, I entered the endless race fighting for jobs. For a graduate with no experience, it was completely tough. I started to run after the Management Trainee Programs of multi-national companies, like BP Castrol, Vinamilk and even one real estate company called Keppel Land. Failures after failures, I just kept trying and trying. Believe it or not, the total number of management trainee programs that I joined must be over than 8. I failed all of them.
I wandered from interviews to interviews hopelessly, forgetting completely about my dream career of working in an advertising agency, because simply those ad agency does not recruit graduates. One day, I found myself working as a Salesman in a Sports club called Saigon Sports Club.
The quality of the club is nice, which is one of the most modern one in Vietnam, targeting the rich for sure. One thing which is awkward was that Salesman job I owned after graduating from the finest university. There was something not so right. But it was my decision to try the job out because firstly, I want experience in different environment; secondly, I want to try out Sales job; and finally, I was jobless at the time. My parents were very supportive and understood this. They always are. After a while (exactly 1 week), I figure out that I should quit this funny job. Before I quitted, I thought I could be accepted as a Digital Marketing Executive for a design agency. But it turned out my lack of experience failed me. They accepted another candidate, with absolute no knowledge whatsoever about Marketing, but having 2 years of experience. Talking to the founder of the business, I believed I could learn something from this man of the design agency. So, I wrote to him an email to request for an internship. Yes, returning to an agency!
My whole period there was much better than my first experience at the digital agency. The boss was very supportive and he had a mentorship attitude. However, one little thing started to bother me was I started to lose track of my role in the company and how much I gained each day. That time at the company was fun and free. My office desk had a big Macbook, which was used mainly for Facebook, reading news and watching music videos. It must be the most ethical working environment in the agency world, where all employees leave sharply at 5:30 pm. So that's the problem. No challenge, no learning. I realized I had no way to grow in such environment. I needed challenges. I was young and energetic and willing to sacrifice. Why no companies wanted such an employee? I really wondered and felt irritated by that.
During that time at the design agency, I applied to the UFresh program of UNILEVER. Yes, I failed again. Over and over again. Then, I told myself that I must be no good at this thing. And I should end this crazy race which I am not suitable for. Those programs, they look for certain characteristics of the new employees, which I always believe are shallow. Of course, it is the HR's challenge to figure out who are the most suitable ones just by a few tests, and there are no better ways than the current method.
One crazy day came. I had an idea of applying for an internship for a Creative Advertising Agency, the one that I always looked forwards to. Just very quickly, a CV application and an interview got me another intership at a giant Advertising agency. I was utmost happy about this change, despite the fact that this was just another unpaid internship.
Entering this Agency, I was so lucky to have an amazing line manager, and an amazing environment. I worked hard and strived my best to show how much I want to join the company. One day, I and another employee in the company were selected to enter the New York Festival Torch Awards in New York. It was a surprising news not only for me, but also the whole company. After three months working as an unpaid intern, I finally got accepted to a full time position as a Strategic Planning Executive. What is more amazing than the moment you can finally achieve something that you have been struggling and fighting for.
This week is a special week. Because if I was not accepted as a full-time employee, this would be last week as an intern at the Advertising agency. Cheers for my life!
© 2015 Tran Thanh Lam