Long ago in the late 80’s, I was an intern at a mid-size Los Angeles ad agency. Every Friday, I’d commute 40 minutes from Claremont, where I was attending college, and file papers and type letters up for the account executives on the Westin Hotels account. I thought it was the coolest place to be, and it hatched my long-standing dream to become a copywriter. Perhaps on some granular level, it even inspired me to be the travel marketing strategist I am today. Who knows?
After graduation, I took a temporary job at radio ad sales firm, then moved on to DDB Needham LA to work in their media department. No offense to media people here, but being a media assistant was the most boring job imaginable: calling dinky papers across the country, wherever GTE telephone service happened to be, and placing ads with their reps.
But at least there were some jaw-dropping perks along the way – lunches at the top area restaurants, free Dodger and Laker tickets, industry parties. The listlessness of the job was made somewhat tolerable by these occasional glimpses into the VIP life.
It was all due-paying, so I could someday become a copywriter, even a creative director. I took classes at the nearby Ad Center and dutifully put together a portfolio I thought the CD’s would love so much, they’d give me jobs on the spot. Well, at least that’s the way my brash 23-year-old brain worked.
Through a series of events – not the least of which was the 1989 Bay Area earthquake, which I happened to experience personally on visit home to northern California – I somehow ended up in education, where I safely stayed for the next 22 years.
Not surprisingly, when the AMC show “Mad Men” was first broadcast, I gravitated to it quickly (and it’s not just because Jon Hamm is hot-as-heck eye candy). Even though it was set in a time when I was just born to not yet in school, the whole advertising industry backdrop recalled my own path in that crazy business. Perhaps it even brought back the desire for me to pursue copywriting again…but this time, as a freelancer.
To be honest, I don’t think I could even get an entry level job as an agency junior copywriter now. That whole middle-age thing would certainly not work in my favor. I couldn’t probably sustain the marathon-like workaholic effort that most underling ad people endure, or like the “Mad Men” character and copywriter Peggy Olson does every week for that matter. And I don’t think I’d want to deal with ridiculous office politics that come with that kind of position. So I am grateful for this second chance to fufill my long-ago dream to be what I originally set out to do as a college senior…write travel copy.
A little late to the party, but I’m here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.