Finding the hidden gem

Since the last of the WPP Microfellows packed up and returned to their lives as ambitious young people with their eyes on the Communications industry, our office has felt notably different. Apart from working on group work on their downtime (they were pitching a new marketing Strategy for social enterprise, Year Here), the Fellows worked on live projects at Digit. And they were naturals at it! Fellow, Jee Hyeok spent his final rotation with us and shared these thoughts on why he's choosing a different path to his peers after University, why coincidences matter, and why your instinct is probably spot-on. -- NM

If you're a student nearing the end of your time at University -- and facing the worst job market in recent history -- I'm sure that you, like me, have been thinking about your future prospects  quite often as of late.

If you have a clear goal of where you want to go, be it medicine, banking, drama or music, making the transition into starting your career is a matter of trying again and again to get your foot in the door. And a few months ago, I envied anyone with such a clear sense of direction.

When friends in my Economics class were preparing themselves for interviews - almost universally for investment banks - I was wondering in the desert, desperately trying to find out where I was supposed to go. The Communications industry, or more specifically "Advertising", was not on my radar. The word itself still conjures the image of Chandler Bing from Friends in my head ("Shorts: like pants, but shorter!"). But after a series of coincidences, I found myself applying to the WPP Microfellowship, and by some crazy luck of the draw, I earned  a spot on the programme.

As my three weeks come to an close, I am simply amazed at how lucky I've been: If I hadn't picked up that book in the library; if I hadn't read that email from my friend; if I had decided to go to the pub instead of that careers fair, I would be equally as lost as I was a couple of months ago. It also makes me wonder why it has taken me so long to find this area of work - an industry where creativity meets business. After a few discussions with my mentors, and a bit of research for Digit, I think I might have a few answers.

Firstly, Communications agencies like Digit simply don't need as many people as banks or management consultancies, hence the absence of huge campus recruitment pushes to hire new graduates. With only a few places available at each agency, there's never a shortage of applicants. However, on the hand, the companies which are supposed to be experts at communication (and do a great job for their clients) fail to catch most graduates' attention.

What effect is this having on the quality of fresh entrants into the industry? Of course it would be extremely arrogant of me to claim that people who apply to work in Advertising are rejects from other industries - that's probably just me. But I have encountered people who were considering a job in this industry simply as a back-up plan, something to settle on after a few unlucky interviews elsewhere. Obviously it's not something an  intern like myself can solve, but I do wonder how the Communications business could be filled with people who are genuinely passionate about their work. Not only because this will benefit the work created here, but because it will be the right path for many of the graduates out there.

Before I realised I wasn't cut out for working in the finance sector for the rest of my life (a heretical notion in the Economics department), I thought of applying to banks because i) it would make me a millionaire and ii) it almost felt like it was the only thing I could do after studying Economics. But I could not come up with a single reason why the industry would be right for me personally.

Again, it would be wrong of me to assume that all students who apply to the finance industry don't have an honest passion for it - we all have different interests and talents, of course. But if anyone feels the way I did no matter what industry they are thinking of entering, they should stop telling themselves, "I'll be miserable, but I'll retire by forty."

Yes, it will be scary to turn away from the jobs all your friends are considering. Yes, it might take a long, long time of searching and wondering before you find something that's right for you. But once you do, I highly doubt you'll have any regrets.



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