Being a teenager who’s approaching school leaving age and trying to figure out what you want to do with your life is never easy.
You job-shadow; you go for aptitude tests; you speak to career guidance counsellors; and best of all, you endure presentation after presentation from various colleges, institutions and companies, each trying to sell their respective course or career as the most suitable, and lucrative, option for you.
And then, just as you’ve got to the point where you think you need to bite the bullet and just go with the least dull option, along comes some suave, stylish twenty-something guy named “Matt” or “Steve” or “Dan” (always monosyllabic monikers), who walks in with a confident swagger, fiddles around with his seventeen inch MacBook Pro and suddenly starts blasting Joy Division, leaving you and your friends swooning. To top it all off, he goes on to give a funny, smart, and generally awesome presentation that blows you away (and you could almost swear he was looking directly at you the whole way through).
“I’ve finally found my calling!” you think to yourself, rejoicing silently.
At dinner that night, you announce excitedly to Mom and Dad that you’ve decided to pursue a career in advertising (not mentioning the fact that they’re going to have to fork out R50 000 a year for the next three years to get you there).
And it’s all downhill from there.
No, but really.
Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad (I’m trying to convince myself here as well), but ask anyone who’s actually worked in advertising long enough, and I bet they’ll tell you that the industry is built on lies, deceptions and illusions.
Yes, kind of like Scientology.
So, before you get sucked in, beware of the following – they can be awfully alluring:
– All-white offices (with splashes of red), filled with retro leather couches, strange inflatable objects and cubicles that look like giant glass bubbles, giving the overall effect of “Playpen meets Stefan Antoni”
– Old Coca Cola/MTV/Converse/Apple ad campaigns that have been framed and hang proudly alongside the respective awards they’ve managed to win
– “Chill areas” (that are strangely almost always deserted – probably because no one actually has time to make use of them), complete with Playstations, Wii’s and big plasma screens
– Autographed photos of employees and bikini-clad supermodels from the latest campaign’s shoot
– Row after row of shiny white iMacs, just waiting to have you sitting down in front of them
– Ridiculously good looking people, all dressed in faded black skinny jeans and (authentic) vintage band t-shirts, clutching steaming mugs of coffee and chain smoking on the balcony outside
– iTunes shared libraries filled with more music than you’ve ever seen, most of it by bands and artists you’ve never even heard of
– The “agency bar”, packed with enough alcohol to cater for an entire frat house’s end of year party
As I said, all very alluring.
But three years down the line, when it’s 23h30 on a Wednesday night and you’re working on a corporate brochure for a company that manufactures building materials, you’ll wish you hadn’t been tempted so easily.