I was talking with an author yesterday. His name is Michael Henry; he’s got a new novel (his 8th) on the way. It’s called Murder in the Grove – the plot is rooted in the riots on the Ole Miss campus in October, 1962. It sounds great and I can’t wait to read it.
During our conversation, he mentioned that book publishing is a “Catch 22” these days: Publishers are hesitant to work with authors who haven’t already sold a lot of books, but how’s a new writer supposed to sell books if they can’t find a publisher?
He said it’s the same in the music business. Recording companies favor musicians who have previously sold a lot of music.
And I started thinking how that’s similar to what I hear from students all the time: To land a marketing job, they need experience on their resume. But how do they get experience if employers won’t ever hire someone without it?
Unfortunately I don’t have much advice for authors or musicians.
But when it comes to internships and jobs for my students, I tell them to grab something – anything – to get their first gig out of the way. Then build the resume from there. Sometimes students hesitate to take an internship because they don’t think the opportunity sounds exciting, of they feel the responsibilities might be menial.
But a dull internship is still an internship.
My first internship was at a marketing agency in London. Although that sounds great to say, the experience was anything but. On some days they’d send me to the store to buy more milk and tea for the break room. On other days, I’d sort through file cabinets and organize brochures. Although I got to meet a lot of nice people, the job was generally boring and lasted just a semester. But from that point forward, I had a track record. Having that internship made getting the next (better) one easier.
Years later, it was a similar paradox when I left my corporate job and started consulting, I knew the hardest client to get would be the first one. How much would I have to tap dance when a prospect asked for references or wanted to know whom my other clients were? I was open to anything, and the first marketing project I landed involved creating display boards for a trade show for a small insurance company. I remember standing there with foam boards and Spray Mount wondering if I’d made a huge career mistake. But that project led to a better one, and then a better one, and within a few months I had landed some nice projects with the corporate offices of Wells Fargo Mortgage, Farm Bureau, Nationwide, a few municipal governments and other entities.
There will always be Catch 22s. The trick is doing what you need to do to move past it.
For more information on Michael Henry’s books, click here