A letter to the next generation of the advertising world

October 19, 2014 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


Dear budding graduates and new job candidates,

As winter graduation grows close and June graduates start getting ahead of the curve, many of you will reach out to our agency and others seeking guidance, trying to get your foot in the door and wanting a chance. I know, because many of you have already started calling. And I love that about you. Believe it or not, the fact that you actually picked up the phone and called puts you ahead of the vast majority of other people. Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” The man has 24 Oscar nominations and four statues. Listen to him.

Showing up is big. But so is HOW you show up. At this point in your life, you’ve heard all the admonishments about first impressions, strong handshakes and eye contact. By now, those should be absolutes along with sitting up straight and smiling. No doubt you also know to double-check your resume and your cover letter for typos—especially names. Misspell the name of the person you’re writing to, and there is a 100 percent chance you’ve got no shot. But as I said, you probably know all this.

What you probably don’t know is that there’s one thing that will set you apart from everyone else you’re competing with. One thing that will guarantee you’ll be remembered after a 20-minute interview. The one thing that can flip the tables when someone with better grades, a better resume and better connections walks through the door ahead of you. That one thing … is your story.

What’s your narrative? What made you into the person you are and what brought you to this office and this desk at this particular time on this particular day? What’s your purpose in life? Why did God give you breath and put you on this earth? What are your hopes and dreams and aspirations for this year, five years from now and when you’re 45? And just for a second, let’s look at all of that through the lens of this job and why you are the person who was destined to fill it.

Hard questions? Absolutely. But well worth the hours of thought you owe the person taking time to talk to you. More than that, you owe it to yourself. If you’re fortunate, you’ll find one career you really love. Maybe two. Ask any person wrestling with the questions of purpose at 45 or 55, and they’ll tell you they wish they’d started at 25. You own your career. And while I hope for you incredible mentors and supportive executives, the truth is, this life is yours to drive.

Finding the right job, sometimes any job, can be hard. But see that for what it is—preparation for doing that job once you land it. The world has gone and gotten in a big hurry, and if your passion is advertising and marketing, prepare to jump on a moving train. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything. Be a sponge. Read constantly. Learn incessantly. We work in a fantastic, exciting, fascinating business that’s reinventing itself at an incredible rate. That’s why so many people want to be apart of it.

Figure out who you are and what your story is. Then, ask yourself. What is it about advertising and marketing that lights me up? Why do I really want to be part of this business? If it’s because you need a job, save your energy and go find something else you’re passionate about. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a long, interesting, fulfilling career, find an agency or client culture that fits. Find a mentor willing to invest their time in you. Find talented people you can collaborate with and together, conspire to do spectacular work. Do that, and you will find the career you so eagerly wanted, has become a calling.

That’s when you can change the world.

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.