Concordia University (Portland, Ore.) - Bachelor’s Degree, Business With Marketing Emphasis
As someone who’s far from shy, it only makes sense Jennifer Echternach found a career as an advertising account executive. She is a study in how to work hard and climb your way up the ladder if you really love what you do. It only took her five years to work her way through the ranks to a job she really loves now. In her spare time Jen loves to play soccer, hang out with her adorable niece and spend time with friends. Oh, and did I mention she backpacked through Europe? Yes, quite the impressive lady, and she’s just getting started.
Take the job no one wants to get some experience and prove yourself.
Have you always wanted to be in advertising?
No, not at all. I was so concentrated on soccer in college that I never really thought about afterward, and I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. I knew I wanted to be in marketing somehow, but I didn’t take the time to invest in finding an internship in an area of real interest.
Can you explain exactly what your job involves?
I am a glorified Excel sheet specialist, data junkie, analyst extraordinary ... just a few words to sum up my job. As an account executive, I manage a number of different client’s campaigns from inception to rollout. My agency is different, in that it’s a direct response agency. Our bottom line goal is to buy and run media based on what’s meeting our client’s profitable ROI. Everything we air is tracked via a 1-800 number or URL. Our clients are able to plan their yearly budgets based on what media vehicles (TV, online, print, radio) are getting them the best response (lead, order, coupon, etc.). We don’t buy for eyeballs. We buy media we know works, because we gather every piece of data we can get our hands on. I also get to work with some insanely smart media planners, buyers, programmers and analysts that help manage each client’s goal on a daily basis.
How did you go from college student to where you are right now?
I started from the bottom and worked my way up. I got my start in the advertising industry as a receptionist and fell in love with it from that moment on. I didn’t thoroughly enjoy being a receptionist, but the advertising industry seemed like the right fit for me. It was fast paced, challenging and fun. I knew I needed to stick with it and try to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. In a year, I got my first promotion to account coordinator. I worked for a little more than two years in the general advertising arena at a great little agency where I was on the production side of the account services department. After that I moved to the direct response side of advertising as an account coordinator (a lateral move) with the goal to soak up direct response as quickly as I could. My first promotion came a year later to junior account executive, where I grew my client list and lost more of my personal life. Then another year later, after successfully managing one of the agencies largest accounts, I was finally moved up to just … plain … account executive! It seems like such a long five years, but it went by incredibly quick. Now what? As usual, I have no idea! I just continue to learn by surrounding myself with smart people and try to take on new challenges.
What is your typical day like? How does that change from week to week?
The best and worst part of my job is that every day is different. Best being you never get bored, worst being you’re never bored because of all the fire drills that pop up on an hourly basis. Either way, my day typically consists of this: check e-mails in the morning to answer any immediate buyers/clients/or analytics questions, then review current clients results -- report findings/next steps, work with buyers to plan current client new media tests/launches and assist in new business media planning/presentations.
What is the biggest challenge facing you right now?
Balance. It is so hard to shut down and not feel bad about it, but it is so crucially important at the same time. I learned that the hard way and am glad I at least recognize there is a problem. I am a big believer in working as hard as possible (and even sacrificing some things) to meet your goals but not at the detriment of your health or happiness. Nothing makes me better and more focused at my job than a weekend or two a month with no computer and no phone (except of course for Facebook status updates), a good book and a large glass of wine ... or two. I make sure I always schedule a little “me” time in for sanity sake.
What have you discovered about yourself through your job?
To never be afraid to fail. I’ve noticed (through experience and talking to peers) when you first get hired at a new company or start a new position, you have concerns of overstepping your boundaries, speaking out of turn or sounding stupid in a room full of top level executives, but regardless of age don’t be afraid to contribute to the conversation. The quicker you get involved and break down that barrier, the quicker you find your voice and, in turn, build your self-confidence to take on more things outside your area of expertise. Taking big risks leads to growth, failure or nothing. I can promise you that you’ll learn something new.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Living and working in the Pearl District in Portland lends to way too many options, and happy hour spent with my great friends usually takes up a lot of those. I also play soccer whenever possible, hang out with my amazing family (and new beautiful niece!) and spend most weekends catching up on my favorite DVR’d TV shows and Netflix movies.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing women today?
I’m not a huge feminist, so I’m not going to say equality in the workplace, I believe today if a woman was smart enough and wanted it bad enough, she could have any job in the world. The biggest challenge facing women today is probably women. Women are so mean to one another and compete so much that I think we hurt ourselves more than any man every could.
What motivates you?
My coworkers and clients push me on a daily basis to be the best I can possibly be. Surrounding yourself with smart, ambitious people is the key to motivation and success.
What are five words that describe you?
Competitive, Loud, Accepting, Dramatic, Sensitive
What is the best part of your job?
All the amazing people I get to meet on a daily basis. Advertising is networking. Throughout my five years in advertising, the people I’ve worked for, worked with and had as clients have all shaped me into the person I am today.
What advice do you have for other girls who want to work in the advertising industry?
Get an internship that allows you to work in different positions and departments so you clearly know what excites you and fits your skill set. Put yourself out there at networking events, seminars, anywhere you can meet people in the industry, and learn more about it. It’s all about who you know! If something comes up, make sure you’re the first person they think of for that job because of your follow up and ambition to get your foot in the door. Don’t be afraid to take risks, take the job no one wants to get some experience and prove yourself. You have to start somewhere and you are never too good for a job without any prior experience.