Interview with Miriam Charry ’16

 

Interview and article by Alumni Relations Chair, Christine Bachek ’17

 

Christine: What is your current position and what does that entail?.

 

Miriam: I am an assistant account executive, which is an entry level role in account management at an advertising agency. Assistant account execs work directly with the clients on a given account on many things like status reports, scheduling, billing, and serve as a liaison between the client and the creative department on production. The job requires lots of organization and constant communication both internally and with clients. 

 

Christine: How did you come to realize your interest in advertising?

 

Miriam: I realized I was interested in advertising during my internship in account management at an advertising agency the summer after my junior year. I have always been fascinated by how advertisements can motivate certain behaviors, and I found myself learning so much and feeling genuinely excited to go to work each day. After the internship ended, I knew it was what I wanted to do after Colgate.

 

Christine: What steps did you take while still at Colgate to land your job?

 

Miriam: During my time at Colgate, I held various marketing internships during the summers and school years. It helped to have as much experience as possible, and my boss from one of my internships gave a great recommendation to my current boss. I attended as many of Career Service’s Real World Series events as possible (my current boss said she was impressed with some of the salary negotiation tactics I used that I learned from Teresa Olsen in that workshop!) I also religiously checked naviGATE and used it to apply to many jobs, which is ultimately where I found and landed this opportunity. 

 

Christine: What are your responsibilities?

 

Miriam: I work directly with our client, handling details of the production of print materials, shoots, videos and more, all while communicating the client’s visions to the creatives in the agency. I attend client meetings and calls and send out weekly production and status updates both internally and to the client. Since I work at a small independent agency, I have also had the opportunity to participate in strategy sessions, contribute to competitive reports and presentations and even write a couple creative briefs for new projects. 

 

Christine: What does a career path look like in advertising?

 

Miriam: There are a number of different paths you can take in advertising, but starting as an assistant account executive on an account team, you can then move up as an account executive, senior account executive and ultimately an account director. After that, some people move laterally between different agencies or switch over to the client side. Working at an agency helps you better understand the client side more by working with them so much, so that is a pretty common path, which I myself hope to take eventually. However, after all of that industry experience, some go on to start their own smaller agencies as well, which is what my boss (a Colgate alumna class of ’74!) did.

 

Christine: What are some actionable steps young women (and students in general) can take now to best prepare for a career in this field?

Miriam: Since advertising is a pretty young industry, agencies love to hire fresh minds and liberal arts students out of college. The best thing interested young women and students can do is keep up with industry and agency news and trends, and reach out to as many people in the industry as possible. Colgate alumni are always willing to help out and give great advice, so utilize the resources you are provided with on campus like Career Services, CWiB and LinkedIn. Finding a mentor early on can be so helpful and help you build long-lasting relationships. I would also suggest paying attention to the advertisements you see and which you do or don’t like, and which really resonate with you–that can help you find agencies or companies you are interested in, which can narrow the search. Lastly, communication is SO important in account management, so polishing your writing skills while in school (which Colgate does an amazing job with) is really helpful! Typos and misspelled words can be deadly in this industry…

 

Christine: Anything else you want to add?

Miriam: Overall, even though I’ve only been in this position for six months now, I have loved every day and am so excited for what is to come. Colgate was so helpful to me in entering the advertising industry and I have met many alumni in the same field who have said the same. 

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