(Dan Langlitz, Penn State University graduate and Account Director at Ogilvy/ Permission for use granted by Dan Langlitz)
Name: Dan Langlitz
Hometown: Marlton, N.J.
College attended: Penn State University Park
Major studied: Advertising, with a psychology minor
Current industry: Advertising
Current place of employment: Ogilvy & Mather, New York City (NYC) location
Current job title: Account Director
Favorite quote: “Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” — Reggie Leach
Fun fact: He likes to frequently host themed and costume parties.
Many students studying fields under the strategic communication umbrella want to succeed in landing their dream job upon graduation. However — some students become overwhelmed by the idea of searching for a career in such a competitive industry, or some students simply don’t know where to start.
When industry professionals speak to Rowan’s PRSSA, a common question members ask professionals is “How did you land your first job after college?”
Dan Langlitz, Account Director at Ogilvy & Mather in NYC, graduated from Penn State University Park in 2005. Langlitz didn’t predict he would end up in the account management discipline within an advertising agency, but he discovered what enticed him and strategically approached his job search — landing him his appealing career at Ogilvy. Langlitz has been with Ogilvy for 8 years now.
Langlitz knows the amount of pressure students put on themselves to obtain a great internship or job, and he knows what it takes to succeed.
He kindly took time out of his hectic schedule to share his career-search quest and some advice to help us in our journey.
Q: When did you realize the advertising industry suited you?
A: Within my first year at Ogilvy, I started to understand what a creative environment looked like and how it worked. When it became less about any particular project I worked on and more about Ogilvy’s culture and community. Everything circles back to the people you surround yourself with, which can make a difference in your work.
Q: How did you land your job at Ogilvy?
A: I heard about Ogilvy in classes and from books I read such as “Ogilvy on Advertising.” And during my final semester, the agency hosted a presentation and recruitment session at Penn State’s School of Communication. I attended the event, and after Ogilvy presented, I stuck around — like everyone else — to network with recruiters. But, unlike my peers, I waited until I was the last person in the room so I could do the following:
- I observed other students and their interactions with the recruiters. I then tailored my approach based off of what my peers were doing right and what they were doing wrong.
- I avoided other students telling me to move after speaking to the recruiters for only one minute. Therefore, leaving me with a low-pressure situation and a chance to have an authentic conversation with the recruiters. (Authenticity is important — especially in interviews.)
Ogilvy offered me an interview right on the spot. I went to the interview a few weeks later, went through the interview cycle and started on January 9, 2006.
Q: Did anything else help you in your quest to land a career?
A: Having a strategy, leveraging my network and systematically ranking companies by what I considered my top, middle and lowest choices. I always tell students to “Have a strategy and move with purpose.” Figure out what you want, your ambitions and reach for your goals — approaching them with a strategic purpose. Narrow your results by ranking companies and going after your
top-tier choices first. Taking these deliberate steps helped me because Ogilvy wasn’t the only agency I was considering at that time.
Q: Did you have any internship experience before Ogilvy hired you?
A: I had two internships. My first one was at a small advertising agency in Philadelphia, Gyros. I wanted to learn about account management to see if an agency lifestyle fit my personality. Ironically, during that internship, I didn’t necessarily learn anything pragmatic in terms of skill set or how advertising actually works. But it proved my desire to work in a creatively stimulating atmosphere.
My second internship was at a small newspaper in State Park, Pa, Centre Daily Times. I took this internship to add more substance to my résumé.
Q: Do students need “big-name” internships on their résumé to get into a large agency?
I always tell students or Ogilvy interns it’s not necessary to have “big-name” agency experience on your resume to land a job at a large agency. However, internships — large or small — are essential to get hands-on experience and to demonstrate that you’re ambitious. Internships give you opportunities to discover what you want, don’t want, like or dislike, and help you construct your ideal career.
Remember: Professionals look for experience, but they don’t expect you to know everything coming into a job based off of a few internships. Perfecting your craft takes time. So, test the waters a little bit, and apply yourself.
Q: What’s life like at a large agency?
A: It’s very energizing, stimulating, challenging and educating. Thanks to Ogilvy’s size, I have a large network and an array of opportunities to generate various forms of work. Even after 8 years, I still find myself doing things I never explored before because I’m constantly turning over something new.
Although an overwhelming number of components exist within a large agency, don’t let size intimidate you. You end up navigating each corner of the place to make it seem smaller. You find your niche by getting involved and becoming a part of the agency’s fabric, instead of being just another employee.
Q: What does an Account Director’s responsibilities entail?
A: As an Account Director — my job boils down to leading teams, managing relationships with our NASCAR clients, partnering with clients on the health of their business and the health of our business, and keeping a mindset geared toward constructing creative and effective strategies to meet a client’s business needs.
Q: What do you consider the most exciting part of your job?
A: The creative process and making the actual work. I like taking a challenge from our clients and turning it that into a creative solution. I’m also constantly intrigued, surprised and delighted by pieces the creative teams build. They look at a client’s consumer insights and findings through different prisms other people wouldn’t typically explore.
Q: What do you consider the most challenging part of your job?
A: Finding a delegate, diplomatic balance between what the agency teams consider effective for our clients and what our clients believe is right for their brands. Since you maintain relationships with both sides, you walk a line — knowing when you can push the boundaries a little and when to pull back.
Q: With an ever-evolving industry, how do you stay current with topics relating to your agency?
A: I read trade publications and websites such as Creativity Online, Ad Age, Adweek, Mashable and Social Media Today. I strategically keep up with industry and pop-culture trends, which include BuzzFeed, in case I need pop-culture references for contemporary-themed projects. And although it doesn’t exactly relate to staying topical, I read books by current or previous industry leaders to gain insight on their techniques and how they led their teams. Recent reads include: A “Creative Mischief” and “Predatory Thinking” by Dave Trott.
Q: What key skills do students need for success in any practice in the advertising industry?
To survive in advertising, you need innate curiosity (about people, brands, what makes companies tic, what’s in their best interest). You have to really want it because advertising demands include handling deadline pressures, meeting deadlines and responding to your clients in a timely fashion.
Having creative intuition helps, but you shouldn’t go into advertising just because it seems cool. You have to really want it — including advertising’s unglamorous aspects and tedious learning curves. Your day will come, but you should practice patience until you learned and gained enough experience to lead teams.
At the end of the day, making ads and making programs should be fun. Take your projects and your client’s business seriously, but approach your work with spunk and personality.
Q: What applicable skills can students learn in school and apply in a future job?
A: Advertising students learn basic fundamentals of ad business, but not the actual craft of advertising creation and execution. You will learn the practical and essential skills when you first start a job.
However, college students do learn transferable skills they can apply to any industry — regardless of what they study because companies, like Ogilvy, often hire diversely. These skills include:
- Work ethic.
- Time management.
- How to prioritize.
- How to adapt to various personalities.
- Communication skills.
Practicing these skills demonstrates to potential employers your ability to learn, adapt and grow. Effectiveness in the advertising agency depends on a team’s capability to work, create and produce materials together. Nevertheless — the most crucial asset you can hone includes the written and spoken word. Your ads must persuade people to consider or purchase your brand. At the end of the day, you have only words to either make or break a deal.
Q:What advice could you give students during their quest for a career or internship?
A: Students often say to me “Oh, Ogilvy is the only place I’ve ever wanted to work.” But if you have not worked for or stepped foot in a company’s office, then how do you truly know whether it’s a good match?
Go at the career search with an open mind. Avoid scrambling. Get rid of your anxiety. Create a strategy. Leverage your networks. Explore your options and have fun.
Yes, I said enjoy the job search. This advice might sound a little unorthodox, but you’ll have the rest of your life to work. Therefore, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and know it’s acceptable if you don’t find a job right away. Sometimes not finding an immediate job benefits you, gives you more time to explore your options and helps you discover your perfect match.
And above everything else: remember why you chose this industry and never lose sight of your dreams or goals.