Getting Your Foot in the Door at the Young & Rubicam Group

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About the Young & Rubicam Group

Young & Rubicam Group is a strategic partnership of more than 20 marketing and communication companies, dynamically organized to meet their clients’ growing and evolving needs and operating in all the major countries around the world.  The Group’s areas of expertise include advertising, digital, media, public relations, research, health communications, social media, grassroots marketing and direct marketing.

Young & Rubicam Group is a member of WPP, the world’s leading communications services group.

About Celia Berk

As the Chief Talent Officer for Young and Rubicam Group, Celia Berk works with the leadership of all of Group companies to promote collaboration in attracting, developing and retaining the best talent across the Group’s global network.

 What kinds of opportunities do you recruit on college campuses to fill?

Celia: When we recruit on college campuses, we are typically looking to identify entry-level candidates across our  marketing and communication disciplines.  Our Y&R Group Career Path Guide provides a really good summary of the depth and breadth of opportunities available across our network of companies.

How do you target campuses? 

Celia: First, we look at where our best people went to school and recruit there. We also look at the diversity of the student body; we’re a global company with diverse clients, so having a diverse workforce is very important to us.

School standing in our various disciplines is also a factor.  We look to schools with exceptional programs in advertising, digital, public relations, research, media, and communications. 

Personally, I am most interested in schools that provide their students a broad grounding in the world – not just in their major.

If you’re not at one of our target schools, don’t let that stop you from pursuing us!  Research us online, review the career sections of our websites, contact the company or companies that interest you most.

How important is a student’s specific college major for these opportunities?

Celia: At the entry level, people can come from any kind of background – from any major or school – and start a really interesting career in one of our companies.   But whether you majored in humanities, history, sociology, business, engineering, medicine, psychology, or communication, you need an affinity for the kinds of work we do.

How do students interested in working in other areas of your company apply/express their interest?

Celia: Candidates for jobs outside our core marketing and communications business (like HR, Finance, IT) are typically sourced at the local level by recruiters at the individual companies.  We post opportunities on our individual company websites, use local and industry-specific job boards, and network with colleagues through professional associations. Each company does its own unique recruiting to meet these needs. 

What do you look for in candidates?

Celia: Personally, I look for intellectual curiosity, strong written and verbal communication skills, a sense of the larger world, and a genuine interest in the kinds of work we do.  I am always interested in talking to candidates who understand what we do and see it as a really interesting way to have a varied and challenging career.

We all do courtesy interviews, and we can tell immediately when someone doesn’t know or care what we are about. I  want people who really get it; who are instantly intrigued by what we do!  THAT person has my attention!

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to work for your company?

Celia: Our business is about communicating with stakeholders in the broadest sense, so we look for people who enjoy that kind of work. Some kind of work experience is very important.  Internships are great, but not everyone can do an internship in advertising or marketing.  I’ve spoken with lots of impressive entry-level candidates who have led big initiatives on campus or in the community, or had other types of solid work experience that show a strong work ethic and an understanding of what it means to be a professional. 

 Show that you know how to work hard and work smart.  Show you’ve been a member of a team that would want to have you back (even if you’re not particularly interested in going back!) And once you have gotten a  job, show that you can meet  the needs of that job and are someone who adds value.

What about participation in a study abroad program?

Celia:  That can be very beneficial.   You won’t be penalized if you don’t have it, but it is a great way to  show flexibility, adaptability to new cultures, and resourcefulness – an understanding that the whole world is not like the one you currently live in. Study abroad gives you a broader vantage point.  Honestly, it’s hard to be in different work cultures – if you can decode the culture of a foreign country, you can probably decode our company’s!

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to enter the workforce?

Celia: Be active, be involved, be  part of a variety of communities. Show some get-up-and-go. Show that you can make things happen for yourself.

What are some of the classic mistakes you have seen students make when interviewing with you?

Celia:  I am shocked by how few students actually do their homework before an interview.

For example, asking me: How long have you been with the company?”  All they have to do is go to LinkedIn to see how long I have been with the company and learn quite a lot about me, my career and my accomplishments.

I know immediately when someone hasn’t read my profile because there are some interesting conversation starters in there they can use.

Another pet peeve is asking questions they can easily answer for themselves, like “What kind of jobs do you have?” They can usually get this information off the company website.

My general advice: 

  • Dress appropriately (when in doubt, dress less casually; and you can always ask what the dress code is)
  • Be on time (but not ridiculously early)
  • Bring copies of your resume
  • Write a thank you note

And, if you follow up with me a few months later, help me remember you. Provide some context in your email:  Thank you for the time you spent with me a few months ago.  As you may recall, I had just graduated from . . .  and was looking for . . .  and you put me in touch with  . . . .   I was wondering if you might have some advice about . . .

Remember, it’s not all about you. Your communication (letters, emails, resume, etc.) should present a balance between what you want and what you offer.

What are some of the most impressive things you have seen students do when interviewing with you?

I am always impressed by students who have done their homework, have a good resume, and ask good questions.  You can get a real measure of a person by how smart their questions are.

If you knew then what you know now: What advice do you have for college students as they plan for life after college and getting that first job?

Starting your career in a marketing and communications company gives you tools that no one will ever be able to take away from you: How to create and manage perceptions, how to deal with stakeholders, how business works,  and how to develop your own personal communication skills.  You will use these skills throughout your career.

From day one in your career, build your network and never lose track of it.  With LinkedIn, there is no excuse! 

Note, I said LinkedIn, not Facebook.  I am not your friend; I am a prospective colleague, so don’t “friend” me on Facebook.  Also, don’t request to connect with me on LinkedIn without a specific message and purpose in your request – make sure I can tell why you are asking to link to me.

Want to learn more about career opportunities with Young & Rubicam Group companies? 

Go to the Young & Rubicam Group Careers Page.  And, take Celia’s advice:

 Do your homework, have a good resume, and ask good questions. 


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