I am so, so pleased to feature a guest post today from a client alumna, Aria McLauchlan! Aria is an Australian-turned-New Yorker who brought her business degree, work experience and a suitcase full of dreams to the city mid-2010. She is now settled and working in account service in a growing marketing agency, internationalizing her communications experience, writing her blog, Aria, Intrepid, and looking for little ways to inspire and make a difference. (Tracy’s note: Aria tweets about her commitment to making a difference and I recommend following her for that reason.)
Aria was gracious enough to write a post for me for my Why series. Many of us focus on How or What we do, but knowing your professional Whys are even more critical. People who have clarity about why they do something and can communicate it well get better results and that is something we discussed during our coaching.
So here is Aria McLauchlan on “why the girl who only ever wanted to ‘make a difference’ fell in love with advertising and marketing instead… and why she’s sticking with it.”
If you belong to the communications industry, there’s a very good chance you didn’t grow up wanting to be a ‘digital strategist’, a ‘copy writer’ or a ‘public relations consultant’. Those terms just don’t exist in childhood career aspirations.
But somewhere between childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina or an astronaut, and the glaring realities of an adult life, the idea of advertising as a career choice hit me in a beautiful, lightning-bolt moment of realization.
Watching a ‘chick flick’ at the age of 14 (I was born ten years too early to be able to earn any kudos from citing Mad Men as a source of career aspiration!), I saw two characters birthing a brilliant idea for sports giant, Nike.
While I’ve since forgotten the exact wording, the impact of watching an idea with unlimited potential unfold before my very eyes was immeasurable. This fabled idea would go on to win over an important client, glorify the career of these two characters, and inspire my own career path and college choices. Advertising as a job title entered my realm of consciousness. It was at this point that I knew that working with and conveying ideas, amidst the effortless ‘cool’ of the agency world would be the way to go.
Various personality and aptitude tests confirmed my inclination towards the communications industry, while the words Advertising Account Executive, printed casually in the depths of a monstrous high school Career Guide, spurred on a role that would prove to be a perfect fit for me in a field with which I was already enamored.
Despite my obvious alignment for my newfound role, advertising seemed to be at odds with many of my values and wider beliefs for the world; beliefs that were informed and highly influenced by my highly liberal, progressive family background. As my closest mentor has continually, although always gently, attested of our rampant consumerist society, and by extension, the industry which promotes it – why create perceived problems or needs, when so many real problems and needs already exist!?
My answer and rebuttal lies in this:
I’ve since discovered that beyond the perceived world of agency-cool, long lunches and sexy parties, and at the heart of the reality of non-stop 14 hour days whilst earning $30K a year out of college, the ‘glamour’ of communications has a much truer, if not seemingly intangible appeal.
The industry that is grounded in research, planning and insight, and that communicates that insight in the form of an idea that can resonate with all of us, is the same industry that has the resources [read: people], the capital, the capability and the influence to change the way we shop, the decisions we make, the causes or companies we support, the way we think, and ultimately, the way we are.
It is this potential that I see unleashed by a growing number of my counterparts every day. The ability to make a real difference in the corporate world might just be an idea, but I also feel it is a privilege and an opportunity. Now who wants to market that?