When I was interviewed by my student Miranda, she said it was for her class in creative non-fiction. The answers I gave her were precisely that.
Miranda started by asking about my career path in advertising. I told her that I skipped around so much, I didn't need a resume, I needed a map. Interned in Detroit, went to Chicago, back to Detroit, moved to Ohio, then back to Chicago for two more jobs before I moved to Ann Arbor for my own agency, for which I started an office in San Francisco. Quite a waste of energy, actually.
My friend Dennis, who now teaches advertising at the University of Kentucky, says he envies my sense of adventure. I think it was more like falling in love every time I got a valentine, in the form of a job offer. Not such a good policy. I probably would've ended up at the same place by staying at my first job.
Miranda now knows I have met some crazy people and some great ones. And some crazy great ones. She asked me if my first jobs were like "Mad Men". In reference to how women were regarded at work, I said, yes. Sort of like possessions. That's why every time an executive left, his secretary was likely to go with him. The only women execs were in the creative department. They were the ones with the hats.
In reference to drinking, not so much. I did have an agency president who threw a cocktail party in the main conference room every day at 4:30. In social relationships, as in most everything else, we were an hour behind New York. I had so much to learn about advertising, I was oblivious to most of the goings-on, but I do know that every once in awhile a vice-president would leave "to pursue other opportunities." In other words, he got caught having an affair.
I hope I told Miranda the two most important things in advertising: one is to learn to yawn with your mouth closed (very important in meetings). The second is to learn to read upside down, a lifesaver when you're presenting ads to a client.
I didn't tell her about the writer who got so angry that he threw the potted plants in the lobby down the elevator shaft. Or the endless potential for rejection, because your idea is your baby. I didn't want to scare her.
In the end, it's all worth it. Advertising is a truly enjoyable way to make a living. And it needs all the fresh thinking it can get!