A few years ago, Jade Delaney was just out of college, trying to find work.
Her dream job, she thought at the time, was to break in at the worldwide ad agency McCann—specifically McCann Bristol, near where she went to school in England.
Only two problems:
Advertising is one of those industries with a lot more people applying for entry-level jobs than there are positions.
McCann Bristol wasn’t hiring at all at the time.
So, Delaney came up with an idea. A stunt, really—and one that worked so well that I wrote about her job hunt back in 2018. (Me and a lot of other people.)
But I followed up with her again last week, to see how things worked out, longer term. If you’re a recent college graduate—or if you know one—I think it’s a cool and inspiring story.
Let’s cover what happened in 2018 first.
This was right around when McCann was winning awards for its Fearless Girl promotion. On behalf of its client, State Street Global Advisors, the agency had commissioned a four-foot-tall bronze statue of a young girl and positioned it, standing defiantly, in front of the Raging Bull statue on Wall Street.
It was a big win for the firm, which won a bunch of awards and got millions in free publicity.
In the UK, Delaney was going to McCann events, trying to learn about the agency and how to improve her odds. The common thread she heard was that people kept talking about Fearless Girl.
“They were really proud of it,” she told me last week. “Simultaneously, I was thinking: ‘How do I show that I really want to work here? I want to be in advertising. How do I advertise myself?’ I kind of got to a point where I was like, ‘Everything’s been done!’”
Perhaps not everything, though. The solution Delaney came up with? Dress up as the Fearless Girl statue, stand outside the agency in Bristol, and mimic the power posture.
(If you can’t see the photo above of what she looked like in costume, you’re missing a big part of this story. Either enable images, or click here.)
“I painted the dress in acrylic, and it took quite a few layers, and I painted my shoes,” she said. As for her face and body: “I was painted by a makeup artist … that was a few hours.”
Then she sent a LinkedIn message to the creative director and managing director of Bristol McCann:
"Today, I will be arriving outside McCann adorned in gold. Advertising, meet the #FearlessGirlBristol."
(She told me she’d also called reception to make sure she hadn’t picked the one day everyone was away at a staff retreat or something.)
Within minutes of her arrival, tons of people from the agency came outside to meet her. McCann Bristol tweeted about her stunt and offered her a one-month tryout.
Later, the managing director of McCann Bristol told Adweek:
"We are lucky enough to be inundated with the CVs of graduates who are looking to take their first step on the career ladder. Jade has been brave enough to stand out from the crowd, which is a fantastic trait for anyone starting a career in advertising."
It’s a good start, being written up in one of your industry’s top publications on Day 1. From there, things took off. As she told me this week, she was all over the media in the US and the UK for a short while.
Then she aced the tryout, worked for McCann for about a year, and moved on to a mid-sized creative agency called Epoch.
It was a great conversation. We talked through a few key takeaways, especially given that so many young people who have just graduated are now looking for the right job.
Here’s how I’d summarize the best lessons learned, for anyone trying to stand out from the pack:
The stunt has to fit the role.
Obviously, this would not have worked if Delaney’s goal had been to work at Goldman Sachs. McCann was very proud of Fearless Girl, and its entire raison d’etre has to do with executing creative ideas.
“It’s timing as well,” Delaney said. “They’d just launched Fearless Girl, and it was coming up for loads of awards.”
It has to be full-throttle.
“It can’t be half-arsed,” Delaney asserted. For example, she said, it wouldn’t have worked if she’d only worn a gold dress; she had to do the whole thing, including the gold paint that took forever to get off afterward:
“It had to be—it’s funny, on MSNBC News, the woman said, ‘the whole kit and caboodle,’ which is so funny. That’s such an American [expression.] But I had the whole kit and caboodle.”
You actually have to be qualified.
The stunt just gets you to the door (maybe). Delaney’s first offer was a short-term probationary tryout. If she couldn’t have done the work once she got there, it would have all been for naught.
“Once you’re in there, you need to prove why they should keep you,” she said.
Make it easy to say yes.
Again: “short-term, probationary tryout.” There wasn’t much risk in offering Delaney this position. Beyond that, as she told me:
“I think I put them in a position where they couldn't say no. … They were saying, ‘We want people who are passionate, who want to work for us.’ And then you do the stunt?”
I’ll bet some readers have amazing “thing I did to get a job” stories of your own.
Share them in the comments; maybe we can collect some good ones and include them in a future newsletter.
A few housekeeping items:
And speaking of advertising … If you’re a free subscriber, you already know: We’ve got our first sponsorship! (Like almost everything I’m doing these days, sponsorships are a bit of an experiment; we'll see what happens.)
If you’re a paid/premium member, you’re getting an ad-free experience, so you won’t know what I’m talking about. But in case you’re curious what the ad layout looks like, or if you’re interested in 35% off a pair of Foldies folding sunglasses, paid/premium members can click here to see what it all looks like.
If you’re a reader who would like to consider becoming an advertiser, I’d love to talk with you. Just reply to this email, or reach out to email@example.com.
If you’re not a paid subscriber and would like to upgrade your membership, here’s the link.
Other stuff (don’t worry, we’ll get to the 7 links):
Congrats to Understandably readers Eric Bartosz of Center Valley, PA; Genie Fortier of Concord, NC; Gerard Goulet of Rochester, MN; Samaneh Rodarte of Solona Beach, CA; Fred Rooney of Bethlehem, PA; Mike Spear of Oklahoma City, OK; and 4 others that I haven’t heard back from yet, who were picked in the draw for free copies of Turney Duff’s book The Buy Side. Copies should be on their way today… ugh, assuming I can get over to the post office this afternoon. Everybody else who entered, check your spam folder: you might have a message from me!
We have another video interview this week, with Dr. Bruce Greyson of the University of Virginia, author of After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond. I wrote about him here in February (“Bite Club”); the response was really great. Check tomorrow’s newsletter for the signup form.
7 other things worth your time
Just a listicle—maybe I shouldn’t say “just;” I’ve certainly written enough of these—but there were a few good ideas: 27 Most Lucrative Side Hustles for People Over 50. (Yahoo Finance)
The IRS and a group of economists have new research out suggesting the richest 1% of income-earners (meaning people who earn more than $538,926, nationwide) illegally avoid paying taxes on about 20% of their income. The report says this isn’t about smart planning; it’s more about illegal non-reporting and concealment, adding up to $175 billion a year. (USA Today, Marketplace)
Another little “how the workforce is changing” story: Employers who say it’s getting nearly impossible to convince coveted candidates to move to a new city for work. (WSJ, $)
David Dushman, the last surviving soldier who took part in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 1945, has died at the age of 98. A Red Army soldier, on 27 January 1945, he used his T-34 Soviet tank to mow down the electric fence of Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland, helping to set prisoners in the death camp free. (RTE)
Anyone remember Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua? Chua is a professor at Yale Law School, and she’s embroiled in a crazy dispute with the law school administration over parties at her house, how students get picked for very highly coveted judicial clerkships, and whether she should be removed from teaching small group classes. (Business Insider, $)
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked: In a world in which women are graduating from Army Ranger School, flying fighter jets in combat, and commanding infantry units, is it no longer constitutional to require men, but not women, to register for the draft when they turn 18? (Military Times)
How’s this for a dark hobby? A married couple in Yonkers spent years seducing serial killers in prison by mail (using made-up identities), just for the macabre fun of it. Among their marks (that few people will feel sorry for): John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz, Charles Manson, Karla Faye Tucker, and Susan Smith. The info is coming out now because of a podcast based on their exploits. (NY Post)