So many points throughout our lives people are ready to give us advice. Our parents are probably the first ones … eat your vegetables, don't stay up too late, finish what you started. All of these nuggets help us figure out the world and ultimately help shape us as human beings, but when you think about the best advice you ever received, what would it be?
I can't say I often think back to those pieces of "advice" my mom gave me because they are more a part of me than a conscious memory. The things that do stick with me and serve as pivotal moments in my life are those I received from mentors or more seasoned professionals in the advertising world.
In fact, I could probably write a book of all those amazing nuggets, however I think the best piece of advice I have ever received was, "If a job intimidates or scares you, that means you should take it." Frank Maher (group president-chief operating officer of The Integer Group) told me this after I had just completed my first big advertising internship with the agency.
The general idea is that there will always be big titles in jobs we don't think we are ready for, but someone thinks we would rock it, and that means something. Even beyond this, we don't learn and grow without constantly challenging ourselves. I am not saying that we should take jobs we aren't qualified for at all (i.e., I am in advertising, so I wouldn't take a software engineering job), but don't run away from a big opportunity.
To demonstrate my point, I feel the need to briefly run through an example of how this advice has come to fruition in my life (and will continue to influence future decisions). First of all, this small-town Illinois girl set her sights on New York City early in college. My junior year, I attended a career conference in NYC and stayed in touch with contacts. That led to my first job here in the city, starting two weeks after graduation. Upon arriving, I immediately joined several industry organizations and was eventually asked to co-chair the career conference that had paved my path to NYC in the first place.
I could have been too frightened to:
A) Move halfway across the country and set up shop in a large city with no friends
B) Take a job slightly outside my tunnel vision (i.e., it wasn't an ad agency)
C) Run a conference hosting 600-plus students from across the country
But I took each challenge head-on. I now work at an amazing digital-media company (Yahoo), I have the best friends a girl could ask for and opportunities out my ears because I just happen to live in the advertising capital of the world.
None of this would have happened if I hadn't put myself in the game. Don't stay on the conventional ladder you have in your mind. Be on the lookout (or hunt, rather) for those challenging opportunities and step up to the plate. I promise that you will surprise and delight yourself!
About the Author
As the senior marketing analyst at Yahoo, Sarah is responsible for the implementation of audience-centric research solutions, including 'mom research' and insights around women and consumer packaged goods. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Sarah was involved in the digital industry for several years, with experience not only on the publisher side but also on the digital agency side; strategizing with the likes of MediaCom and Carat on audience segmentation analysis. Sarah holds a bachelor's degree in Advertising & Marketing from Drake University and currently resides in New York City. She also holds prominent positions in industry organizations such as The Ad Club of New York and Advertising Women of New York (AWNY).