The Cutting Edge: Colby Newton, 24, Rubber Stamper

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Colby Newton is a promising young ad school grad who faces a bleak job market. Which explains why he's been working in a rubber-stamp factory.

After getting an undergraduate degree in advertising and communications from Boston University, Mr. Newton entered an intensive two-year advertising program at the Creative Circus in Atlanta. Mr. Newton graduated from the Circus last year, applied for jobs as a copywriter, was turned down everywhere and took a job in customer service at a rubber-stamp factory in Marietta, Ga. "It's a soul-sucking, mind-numbing job," he says.

It also is Kafka-esque. Mr. Newton was fired seven weeks ago. "They said the job didn't suit me," he says. He was given three weeks to find another job, but the company couldn't refill his position because the pay is so low, "so I just kept on showing up for work." Mr. Newton, 24, finally told the company he'd be leaving for good. "And then they asked me for two weeks notice. And I said, `Didn't you fire me seven weeks ago?"'

Mr. Newton's paycheck hasn't covered much more than rent and utilities. "I'm supposed to be pursuing advertising and selling products and ideas, but I'm not even a consumer myself," he says.

"Colby really doesn't deserve to work in a rubber stamp factory. He has much more talent than that," says Amy Hoover, VP-recruiting at Talent Zoo, an advertising recruiter that is trying to place Mr. Newton at an agency. "Two years ago, Colby would have had job offers from agencies around the country."

Ms. Hoover says Mr. Newton and many other ad majors from the classes of 2000 and 2001 are in the wrong place at the wrong time. "The agencies can't afford to bring on a multitude of young creatives into their shops at this time," she says.

All is not hopeless. Mr. Newton leaves shortly for an interview with a small agency in Boston. "They are going through a downturn," he says. "But [they] said it will turn around in the fourth quarter and if anyone offers me a job before then, I should contact them first because I would really fit in well with their agency."

Mr. Newton last week moved back in with his parents in Pittsburgh until he finds himself a job.


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