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4 Ways to Be #RelationshipGoals with a Mentor

– This post was written by Natalie Kim, founder of We Are Next


Mentors are the fairy godmothers of your career. They encourage you when things feel hopeless, connect you with useful knowledge, people and opportunities, and get you to the ball (or your next job).

But unlike Cinderella, you have to earn your mentor’s magic. Whether your mentor is your boss, someone you cold emailed (bravo!) or the judge you connected with after winning Young Shits, here are four ways to get the most out of the relationship.

1) At the beginning make it less about you and more about them

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Let’s say you’ve identified a potential godmother and want to ask them to be your mentor. Make it less about what you need and more about that person. Be genuinely curious and thoughtful in who you reach out to. Internet-stalk them and find the reason(s) you want to connect with that specific person. Then kick off the relationship by asking about their career path or what their current role entails.

Most folks in the industry love talking about themselves (though we may not admit it or put ourselves out there). They’ll be much more willing to take that meeting or phone call vs. if you open with what you need from them. Once you’ve established a connection, there will be plenty of time to ask for their help.


2) Move beyond advertising

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Talking about advertising only scratches the surface level of a mentor relationship. To build a stronger, more lasting bond, get to know each other as full people. What does your mentor do outside of work? What did they think of the latest season of GoT? What’s their philosophy on life? How’s their mom?

The best mentorship happens when there’s emotional investment between the mentor and mentee. And that only comes from baring other parts of yourself. (Not literally baring parts. Don’t do that.)


3) Mentor the mentor



We look up to our mentors, but they put their pants (or bra) on the same way you do. We’re all just people looking to learn so we can be more awesome at our jobs (and life, because see #2). To keep the relationship from feeling one-sided (i.e. you constantly take-take-taking), think about what you’re bringing to it as a mentee.

Maybe it’s your perspective as a young’in. Or an article you think they’d find interesting. Or the password to the newest speakeasy you can only access through a manhole cover. Whatever it is, try to bring value to their lives on a consistent basis—not just when you need something.


4) Let them celebrate your success



Imagine you put time and effort towards something, but never saw any progress. You wouldn’t keep doing whatever you’re doing, and you’d stop caring about it, fast.

When something great happens in your career—you helped win a big pitch, overcame your fear of speaking up, or landed that dream gig—tell your mentor about it. More importantly, show how their input has helped you get there. The positive feedback will give your mentor warm fuzzies, and encourage them to keep investing in you.

Your future mentors are out there waiting to help you along in your career. And for added guidance, We Are Next gathers advice and insight from all over the industry. It’s like having hundreds of mentors. Sort of.

You got this.



Natalie Kim is the founder of We Are Next, a resource that helps students and junior talent begin their advertising and marketing careers with confidence. She’s spent 10 years in advertising, most recently as Director of Strategy at Firstborn in New York City, and has partnered with clients such as L’Oreal, HBO, Coca-Cola and Bacardi. She’s been recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in Marketing & Advertising and was awarded the GenNext Award by She Runs It for young women already making their mark on the industry. 

Through its weekly email and podcast, We Are Next gathers perspectives and advice from all over the industry to help those just starting out better understand the landscape and opportunities ahead. 





Q&A times

Jereek asks:

"What was your overall experience like getting your first job?"

Hi Jereek. Nice to comment with you.

Work is slow today, so I'll give you the long answer. 

Little bit of background on me:

I'm from suburban Canada. I played competitive tennis my whole life but somewhere deep down inside me I always wanted to make ads for toilet paper. Just kidding, I wanted to write the next great Canadian novel and then sell out in L.A. by age 25, but I did occasionally see an ad on TV that would make me say "I wonder who thought of that."

And so I ventured out into the world (a small, private university in the middle of nowhere) on a tennis scholarship and majored in journalism and marketing. It was fun for a while until I realized I really, truly hated journalism and marketing. So I panicked, spinning out into a void of self-doubt and sadness. Where had the young, carefree creative writer I once knew disappeared to? Had I lost all childhood innocence? And why hadn't the care package my mom sent two weeks ago arrived yet? It was trying times.

But then finally, one day it happened. I got up the courage to walk up and tell my journalism professor I wanted to take a creative writing course and he said, "cool, the creative writing prof is over there. Go say hi." So I did and he gave me a class syllabus and then he mentioned he ran an advertising club and I could do creative writing there, too. Then I graduated and I realized copywriting was my long lost soul mate and that I really truly wanted to write toilet paper ads, like, for real, so he said you should go to portfolio school. So I applied to Miami Ad School and VCU and I chose Miami Ad School. Just kidding, I didn't get into VCU. Might have had something to do with my GMAT scores that I may or may not have studied for but anyways let's move on. 

Miami Ad School has a crazy internship program where you can intern all over the world. So I applied and was accepted to intern at Ogilvy Tokyo then JWT Australia and then voila, Droga5 NYC. I'm glazing over a few details here but I have a meeting at 5pm. I should mention, though, I met my AD partner at Miami Ad School and we traveled together and we had matching portfolios and it was beautiful. It also helped us get an internship at Droga because he was a great AD and coded / animated our portfolio like magic so word to the wise, if you find a partner you like, stick together. 

We worked our little butts off when we got to Droga, because it's awesome here and we were like, uh, no we aren't leaving. Ever. But I'm Canadian and he's Indian and we both needed visas so we worked twice as hard to ask for work and get noticed. And somehow, it worked. It wasn't easy and there were tears and sweat and exhaustion and way, way too many burritos but in the end, we made it. 

Details of getting a Visa as an international student will be addressed in another post. So will interning, because even though it sucks and you're broke for a while it's still a great way to get that foot in that door. Also, free dinner. 

k bye for now. 

10 ways ad agencies differ from typical office jobs

I had a regular office job once. I was some sort of number-crunching marketing person (can’t really remember anymore, must’ve blocked it from my memory), and let me tell you the ad office life is quite different from the reg office life. Apart from the passive aggressive fridge letters and accidental reply-all emails.

Here are the ad life perks:


  1. Endless Free Food!


They do it so you stay at the office longer, but whatever. It’s free and it’s (sometimes) delicious.


2. If you aren’t busy, then leave

There’s none of that painful watching of the clock and dashing out at 5:59pm. If you have nothing to do, most of the time you can just go. You’ll have plenty of all-nighters to make up for it.


3. Procrastination is completely accepted

[Morning email about a task that will take 20 minutes to do.] “Hey, can you get this done by today?”

“hmmm. I’ll try.”

*7 hours of Youtube and 20 minutes of work later*

“Here you go! Sorry it’s so last minute, I was super swamped today.”

It’s all fun and games until you’re waiting on someone else’s procrastination, though.


4. Most of the work is as fun as a dog rolling in a ball pit

The procrastination might be real, but when you do get around to doing some work you realize how fun it is. Which is a lot nicer than opening Excel and wanting to die.

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5. The Parties, though

So much drinking, so much networking, so many shiny trophies, so much fun.


6. Youtube videos and Buzzfeed are “research”

Yup. I have taken inspiration from at least 2 Buzzfeed articles in my time, as sad as that may be. 


7. Lots of weird shit. Always.

You know it’s an ad agency when you walk in and see a giant Babybel Wax sculpture in the hall. It’s as horrifying as it is impressive.


8. Email Lyfe: Gifs on gifs on gifs

Creative department emails are like Saturday morning cartoons: bright, loud and oddly satisfying when you’re hungover.

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9. Desk toys aren’t reserved for the creepy IT guy

Kinetic sand, dolls and little plastic cars from whatever kid’s brand you’re working on, inflatable donuts and a lot of other weird shit lives on a creative’s desk. And nobody will judge you for it.


10. Social Media sites will NEVER be blocked. Like wtf is that anyways.

Srsly. It’s a free-for-all Facebook frenzy. Go nuts. 


All gifs come from Young Shits does not reserve the rights to any of these gifs.