The Catch-22 of getting started in the industry: Agency work

Since May 2011, I've been trying to break into the copywriting world. We'll "trying" sounds like I've been failing mostly, but I've snagged a couple interesting freelance projects since then.

What I've noticed, however, is that, as I started scanning want ads, there exists an odd catch-22. Agencies only consider candidates with agency experience. So how did anyone ever get their first job at an agency?

This question, no doubt, exposes me for what I truly am: a Newby--a term I wasn't familiar with until I saw multiple jobs postings with disclaimers reading, "Newbies need not apply."

I assume finding your first agency position is much like making it in the stand-up comedy world. You pay your dues, get booed off a few stages, get VD in Reno once or twice, and then an agent asks you to audition for a pilot written by Larry David, and it all comes together, right?

Basically, I'm asking all you secure-in-your-position veterans how you arrived at the agency level. Should I just go ahead and load up on tetracycline pills and hit the road, or is there a backdoor or secret I haven't stumbled upon yet?


Get creative. Roll into an interview with redone copy for an agency's current client. Take people out to lunch. Find out what they are lacking and be targeted. Know your prospect's work better than they know it.

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