Career Advice for the Next Generation of Marketers

For many, a new year means a new year’s resolution. For employees new to the working world, some resolutions may involve their career in some way. Here at GYK Antler, we value educating younger employees and helping them along in their path to success. In the spirit of growth and new goals, we sat down with two Mikes — Mike Stevens, executive director of strategic planning, media and account services; and Mike Gatti, executive creative director — to ask them for career advice for younger employees to allow them to succeed in the workplace.

What’s an effective way for younger/new employees to establish relationships with employees outside of their team?

  • MG: Lunch! There’s no more effective bonding experience than becoming part of a solid lunch crew. Whether over sandwiches, grain bowls or smoothies, the real learnings about people and the work they do comes out over a good meal. Sometimes it can feel tough to step away from your computer, but it’s worth the time investment to really bond with your fellow colleagues.
  • MS: Be proactive! Offer to work on a company initiative or program that uses members outside your team. It may be a new business project, an internal company committee or a thought-leadership program, whatever it is, explain that you want to continue to learn from others internally where possible. If these programs are not there, suggest one.

What career skills do employees need that they didn’t need a couple of years ago?

  • MG: Need? Nothing beyond a curious mind and a willingness to learn. Beyond that, it’s impossible to pin down any one set of skills that are newly necessary. The landscape of marketing changes at such a rapid clip, that by the time you stop to focus on one big new thing, three more have popped up by the time you’ve had half a chance to explore it. So, the one skill everyone needs always is to constantly be learning.
  • MS: I think Mike’s point is spot on. The industry is constantly changing, so a truly passionate and curious mind will be the ultimate advantage.

What can younger employees do to become better strategic thinkers within your company?

  • MG: Listen to every bit of feedback and incorporate it into the next round, the next project, the next meeting. The only way to get better at this stuff is to constantly be doing it, so use your down time to your advantage: ask onto other projects, jump in to help someone out. Keep. DOING.
  • MS: Develop into a constantly curious individual. Question others, ask why, look at what worked, what didn’t and WHY that happened. Doing so will allow you to identify patterns over time, which will improve your ability to think through problems and become stronger strategic thinkers.  

What can younger employees do to impress their boss’s boss?

  • MG: To impress the Big Bosses, junior folks need to be relentlessly curious, and constantly dedicated to making the work better. That’s it. With those two things in mind, they will naturally find themselves pushed into bigger and bigger opportunities on larger and larger stages, places where the Big Bosses will naturally witness their fantastic thinking and marketing prowess.
  • MS: Speak up and give your opinion and make your presence felt. While it may not always be the most comfortable thing for everyone, employees who speak up, share opinions, ideas and have a confident presence will get noticed. A good boss knows great ideas can come from anywhere and is always looking for the next generation to speak their mind! 

How can younger employees advocate for themselves/celebrate their accomplishments without being perceived as a braggart?

  • MG: It’s all about the forum in which the accomplishments are heralded. If they don’t already have standing meetings with their managers, find time to sit down with them. Talking your manager through the projects one has worked on, and asking for feedback on where improvements are needed, as well as thoughts on what went well, is a great way to frame things. Offering to present those same projects at an agency all-hands meeting is another way to get the word out there, and one that does double duty at making yourself a better presenter to boot.
  • MS: Become a champion for teamwork and celebrating success as a team member. Your ability to recognize others and be seen as a positive leader will reflect strongly on yourself and naturally highlight your accomplishments.   

We hope this career advice will benefit you, no matter what phase of life you’re in. Cheers to a year of personal growth!

***

Mike Gatti somehow transformed a job making punk show fliers at Kinko’s into a 15-year career in the Boston ad scene. After spending his formative years creating integrated campaigns for Volkswagen, he moved on to make micro- and macro-sites for folks like Adobe, Bud Light, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bank of America, and so many more, it’s ridiculous. When he’s not chasing his three daughters around the house, he spends his time quietly sprawled on the floor of a dark room.
As executive director of strategic planning, media and account services, Mike Stevens works to understand GYK Antler’s clients, their customers and their competitive environments. He interacts with all teams, including media, creative and development to provide insights throughout the entire production process. Ultimately, Mike’s role is to ensure adherences to the strategic recommendations. 
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