Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The search continues

Truth be told, I'm pretty happy at Starbucks. No, I'm not planning on staying there forever, but my job search efforts have been, admittedly, somewhat half-assed. I do it when it's convenient, or when something falls into my lap, and somehow these methods appear to have a much higher return on investment. This perception does make sense, when I think about it: you're more likely to get a response when you submit your resume through personal contacts than otherwise, and since that way also happens to be easiest (a bit of conversation and emailing your resume, no cover letter required... I can do that), that's what I do more than anything else. I also get job listings sent to me everyday by my undergraduate institution (Annenberg has a kickass career services department), and every so often something on there sparks my interest and I apply for it as well. And I tend to apply for these jobs and then forget about them, so I'm really surprised when I get a call for an interview, the way I did today. It feels like a gift, like it just came out of nowhere.

Today's call was from a direct marketing agency. The position is that of a coordinator, which is entry level, but I would be working in direct marketing. This is very exciting to me, as I haven't had too many responses from resumes sent in for such jobs (save American Express, another heartbreaker). Also it's on the agency side as opposed to the client side, which is very attractive to me. The only downside is the place is located in the Valley. The fact that I don't really know where their city is is not a good sign; I looked it up and it's at the west end of the Valley. Using the oh-so-scientific method of fixing my fingers on the map and then moving them over to compare, I determined that it's slightly closer to my house than Pasadena, where I'm used to commuting. Downside: have to pass by the 405. Yech. Also, no pretty view of downtown and the ocean over Eagle Rock from the 134. I can't think of a nicer stretch of freeway in the LA area (and we've got quite a bit).

Anyway, when I returned the call the woman who called me had already left, so I'll try again tomorrow. I got a couple of other leads today, too: the girl I know at Campbell-Ewald said one of my interviewers had recommended that I meet with the top guy there when he gets back; he's been travelling for work for the last 2 weeks. Also another local ad agency is looking for an account executive, which I heard about through a friend of a friend and she said I could use her name, which was very nice of her. So I'm drafting that cover letter now.

In marketing we talked about being reactive and proactive: in the former position, your company simply reacts to current trends, trying to get the edge on the competition and take advantage of what's going on sooner than they do. In the latter, your company shapes the trends, and is thus the first mover with product introductions and all the benefits that entails. There are lots of examples to demonstrate this: one everyone can relate to is Apple's successful introduction of the iPod, which had a major impact not only on electronics and the computer industry, but on the music business as well. And now Apple is enjoying all the benefits of that: a ridiculous market share, successful introduction of spinoff products (the Mini, the Shuffle), increased sales of other products (Macs, software, etc.), and of course, the spectacular profits being generated by iTunes. I get a newsletter on product placement marketing every week that always includes the top downloaded song on iTunes: it's that popular that it's become a source of benchmark measurement. I've gotten carried away here because I love talking about this stuff, but my point is, Apple is in the proactive company. Everyone else is now reacting to the changes they caused: Dell was next to come out with a high-capacity mp3 player (that I saw), HP, Creative Labs, Sony all jumped on board, and they're all collaborating with different sources to get their own music download services up and running. And now Napster's back with a new business model that entails "renting" music, and I'm really curious to see how that goes. I myself am too invested in my iPod to change now, and I know I'm not the only one.

The downside of being one of those proactive companies is that you assume a great deal of risk when introducing new products like that. There are lots of things that can go wrong, and suddenly your R&D, marketing, and production investments are worthless. Another much-talked about Apple example is the Newton. It never made it past that 1% of the population that buys every new gadget that comes out.

I'm getting way off-track here. My point about the proactive vs. reactive companies is that, these days, I feel like the reactor. And that's ok, that's what's easy, I'm not in any particular hurry. That's one nice thing about being young: I don't have to hurry, I already did plenty of that. (Omigod I turn 23 on Sunday though, that's gonna be weird.) My job search is going on almost in spite of myself, because it has to. And that's where the analogy ends, thankfully: I could be missing out on fantastic life-changing opportunities because I'm not being more proactive about my job search, but as long as I find a job, it's going to be life-changing no matter what. I've been excited about everything I've gotten the chance to interview for, and don't see how that's going to change.

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