Allison Bhatta... find out more about

If you're like Julia, most of what you know about advertising comes from Mad Men, which isn't necessarily the most accurate picture of advertising today.

Career progression as an art director

Allison told us:

"It goes from being the person that's coming up with ideas to being the person that's reviewing and developing ideas, and right now I'm in the middle. Originally I was an art director. Now I'm a senior art director. The next level would be an associate creative director, and there are more managerial tasks at that point. On a project, I'll go to either my associate creative director or creative director for final approval, making sure ideas are really tight before they are presented to a client. At the creative director role, it's a lot of more managing, giving feedback on ideas, and helping get things produced, being the leader there, and then from there, you go to an executive creative director. I call him my big boss. He oversees all of the accounts in our agency. Any big meetings that we have or pitches to win new business, he is the guy that is making sure everything’s on the strategy and really making sense for each client. As you go up, there's a little more responsibility in the ideas you bring versus how much feedback there is in overall leadership and direction."

Getting "half a master's" and following opportunity...

In between my two years of grad school, it was highly encouraged that you kind of go out into the industry and get some hands-on experience in an agency setting. I did an internship at a company out in Colorado, and I had no intention of staying there for a job. It was a really good internship experience, and I loved the people I was working with and the accounts that I was working on. They offered me a job, and initially I turned it down because I wanted to finish my master's. If I start something, I want to finish it, but then realized that the whole point of going to grad school for advertising was to get a job in advertising. The opportunity fell into place a little earlier than I was expecting, but that was my ultimate end-goal. That's when I actually ended up leaving school and taking the full-time job. It's one of my favorite things to say that I got half my master's.

It was a really great experience going through school and learning those things along the way and then seeing how that played into the real world and being able to use those skills. Definitely, I wouldn't have gotten that internship without my grad school experience. I feel like my first year of real world work was like my second year of grad school, if that makes sense.

And having plans change and entering the adult world

I think that was the crazy part was I had never imagined it to work out that way. When it did, it was like “oh my gosh, I have to figure out what I'm going to do!” I realized when you start kindergarten and then you're in school until fifth grade, and then the next step is middle school, and then 8th grade and then high school. If you choose to go to college, you're there for X number of years, and you always know what you're going to be doing for at least the nine months out of the year. I thought that I had everything lined up and planned.

I was going to be in Colorado for three months, and I had a year more of grad school. In May I had to become a real adult and go out and figure out everything about the real world. Suddenly, at the end of the summer, I guess I'm just going to throw a wrench in that plan and start now. It was crazy. You feel like you've always had your life planned up until a certain point of graduation or whatever you're working towards. All of a sudden it's like “okay, here I am; I'm officially an adult.” That happened really fast.


Read our interview with Allison and check out her reading picks!