20+ Career Tips From Creatives Who Were Once in Your Shoes

Launching your career is challenging and stressful – there’s no doubt about that. But you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Plenty of creatives have been there and taking cues from them is one of the best things you can do to help yourself hit the ground running.

These established creative professionals, who will be speaking at Find & Follow Your Passion at Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts on Saturday, November 9th, were gracious enough to share their number one career tips with us. Read on to learn from the best.


“Be your own brand! Social media is the mainstream these days, so use it to your advantage. If you’re going to put yourself out there, do it in the best of light. Most employers like to see active and digital-savvy candidates emerged into the social space, but they may read every word you type. So keep it light and positive and you’re sure to stand out among the rest.”

Brittany Forgione, Senior Publicist at SELF Magazine


“Do your homework and ask good questions. As an employer, I always get a real measure of a person by how smart their questions are.”

Celia Berk, Chief Talent Officer at Young & Rubicam Group

Celia Berk

“Don’t think your problems are unique. That’s how you end up reinventing the wheel. Someone hit the same roadblock and created a solution – find and use that. Solve the interesting problems instead.”

Courtney Harge, Founder/Artistic Director at Colloquy Collective; Program Officer, Fiscal Sponsorship at New York Foundation for the Arts

Courtney Harge

“Everyday come to work with a smile on. Say hello to people – don’t just walk to your desk and say nothing. You’d be surprised how just being friendly and approachable makes a difference.”

John Santucci, Segment Producer at ABC News

John Santucci

“If you have time definitely do as many internships as you can. You’ll learn what you like and don’t like or even if this is the career you want.”

Thanyawan Ausaranurak, Associate of Ad Operations at Mindshare


“Quit reading this and get back to work.”

– H. Caldwell Tanner, Head Illustrator at CollegeHumor.com

H Caldwell Tanner

“Do what you love and it won’t feel like work.”

Arianna Orland, Creative Director at Zynga Global Brand, and Founder and Proprietress of Paper Jam Press


“Find your passion, and continually develop your expertise. Always present fresh innovative work to employers, and provide thoughtful, creative solutions to their business needs.”

Carolyn Ernst, Manager of Creative Recruitment at Bloomingdale’s

Carolyn Ernst

“Make your own luck.”

Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer of the Digital Media Department at Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Be yourself and tell the truth at all times.”

Charles Kim, Associate Publisher at The Museum of Modern Art

“My number one career tip is to pay it forward. No one gets ahead in their career without the advice and help of seasoned professionals, so I believe in doing the same for young, up-and-coming professionals–you never know, one of them might be your boss one day!”

Morgan Thompson, Associate Merchandising Director at Seventeen Magazine

“At the entry-level stage of your career, thinking ahead and taking initiative is key. With any new job, you’ll have a lot of information being thrown at you at once. My advice: don’t be a task-taker. Learn the “why” behind your assignments to understand your job beyond execution. In the beginning, your team may only share basic information about the job, but become an expert! Dig deeper to learn more about your accounts, clients, team and environment. As you discover the reasons for your team’s practices, you’ll be able use those learnings to think one step ahead for your boss and colleagues. The more responsibility you assume, the better your team will function. Think before you ask; when you do ask, be sure you have smart questions. The most important result of asking smart questions is that you create context for what you do and understand how you fit into the big picture.

Additionally, your professional and personal development can happen in tandem. The most exciting part of work in the creative field is bridging the gap between the two. I encourage everyone to pursue passions and hobbies–try something new that scares you–because those experiences will ultimately enhance your creativity and bring engagement to life and work.”

Bayla Gottesman, Training/HR Coordinator at Ruder Finn, Inc.

Bayla Gottesman

“Pursue your dream job with a passion and when you get there, don’t forget to negotiate your salary.”

Jim Hopkinson, President at Hopkinson Creative Media


“Work hard, play to win.”

Celine Robinson, Writers’ Assistant, “Law & Order: SVU”

Celine Robinson

“Always keep looking. Even if you’re thriving in your current position, keep looking for further opportunities within your company in order to continue both your personal and career growth. The worst thing you can do is go stagnant and fall into a rut. You always want to be learning.”

Jen Hsieh, Personal Style Blogger at JennifHsieh.com

Jen Hsieh

“#1 career tip: Be confident!! Confidence is a key quality to a successful career.”

Maria Spano, Managing Editor at Crown Publishing Group, Penguin Random House

Maria Spano

‘You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than everyone else.” – Albert Einstein”

Bernadette Anat, Freelance Producer/Teen Director, YMCA Camp of Greater New York

Bernadette Anat

“I suppose the most obvious tip I could give is to say yes to opportunities large and small, and to never stop looking. Make sure that whatever you are doing, you are learning enough to take you to the next step, and when the opportunity arises, move forward. By keeping open and flexible, you may find the way to something you never even expected or dreamed of.

My favorite touchstone, however, actually came from my mother- who told me once I got my first career-oriented job “Never move back, always forward” …I love this because it is such an open-to-interpretation statement. When she said it it was certainly more focused on salary/benefits/concrete and tangible realities, but I’ve become fond of it for its ambiguity. I ask myself when making career decisions “Is this forward?” Forward can mean many, many things, but no matter what situation I find myself in, it is relevant. Move Forward.”

Michael Buffer, TKTS Patron Services Manager at Theatre Development Fund

Michael Buffer

“Tell a story.”

Jeremey Donovan, Author of SpeakingSherpa

Jeremey Donovan

“Be fierce, be thoughtful, be curious.”

Joy Liu, Assistant Account Executive at BBDO New York

Joy Liu

“Always, always, always do informationals. They are essential to success in any industry, at any level. It is an opportunity to show your enthusiasm while gaining insight and advice about climbing the ladder and creating opportunity for yourself.”

Nicole Samartino, Coordinator at Saturday Night Live

“Never sit and wait for somebody to tell you to do something. Always be proactive and ask how you can help.”

Alex Hughes,  Social Media Manager at AOL Women’s Lifestyle Group

Alex Hughes

“Chaos Theory – put yourself out there as much as possible.”

Max Morganfield, Jr. Account Manager at ICED Media

Max Morganfield

Now your turn: what’s your favorite career tip? Tell us on Twitter with hashtag #FindPassion.

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