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I received the following email from a college student trying to decide on her major. I thought I’d share both her question and my response in the hope it might help others considering a career as a copywriter.
— Susan Greene
I am a college student at a prestigious private university in Los Angeles studying philosophy. I am in my sophomore year of college now and I am finding that my philosophy classes are making an excellent persuasive writer/speaker out of me, and I see myself being a successful copywriter either as a freelancer or with an advertising agency.
I have always had a talent with presenting arguments and ideas effectively. As I write term papers for my professors, I find I can sell anything to pretty much anyone because I have a way with words and can predict how others will respond to them.
Here are my questions:
- Is my BA in Philosophy going to seem irrelevant to advertising even though I know it truly is preparing me for arguing and selling ideas to others?
- Do you think I need to change my major to seem fit for an internship with an ad agency?
- Do you think I can to market myself to an employer as someone fit for this job well because of my philosophical training?
I would deeply appreciate any words of advice.
* * *
It’s nice to meet you. I was a journalism major myself, (Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University), and the writing courses did help me become a better writer, although admittedly, nothing compares with actual work experience. Plus, I went to school roughly 100 years ago, and many things have changed since then, so please take my advice with a grain of salt.
If it were me, and I liked my Philosophy concentration and felt I was acquiring useful skills, then I’d stay with that major. Perhaps you can choose copywriting or advertising as a secondary concentration.
However, don’t just focus on your course of study. Instead, start building a writing portfolio. If you have samples of your work, they will be more important in getting you an internship or job than your major. I can’t stress this enough.
A portfolio will carry more weight than your choice of major because you’re actually showing an employer what you can do instead of asking him or her to take a leap of faith in your competence based solely on your degree. And, with the internet, you have many opportunities to be published, even if only online. Being published in any medium is a great way to build your credibility.
Finally, you should check with your guidance counselor or school career office. They may be better able to make suggestions regarding your major and educational direction. I wish you the best of luck.