The Most Vital Things That Dictate Your Success Might Not Include Your Degree

Ryan Miller From IPG Media Brands Eases Our Post-Grad Woes

By: Ryan Miller

The interior of the IPG Media Brands Office building on 100 West 33rd Street.

Ahhhh – the end of the semester has finally arrived!

While the waxing sound of Pomp & Circumstance may seem like a reprieve to some seniors after an exhausting few months of academic rigor – the inevitable pressure of adulthood and finding that first “real job” still looms large.

Before the palpitations become uncontrollable and you find yourself exasperated just from fine-tuning your LinkedIn profile, remember to stop and breathe, because you’re not the only one.

As a CSI graduate I oft contemplated the difficulties of navigating the professional landscape considering what I perceived as a “disadvantage”: emerging from a CUNY school.

Despite the overwhelming anxiety of reaching out to prospective employers only to have my applications fall on deaf ears, I knew that if I applied to enough places, someone (hopefully) would come calling.

Countless embellished resumes and expertly-wordsmithed cover letters later, I was able to land a few interviews in some diverse professional sectors and quickly came to a realization.

Employers have little – if any – regard for what your B.A. or B.S. reads or where you attained it.

Sitting in my first few interviews across from a senior exec was sobering, but as the conversations developed, I concluded that ultimately all of these companies wanted the same thing: a competent candidate with a strong personality who was willing to work hard.

When I landed my first gig as a Producer on the Global Communications Team at IPG Mediabrands just two short months after graduation, it solidified the fact that the obstacles I had originally perceived as a threat were merely in my head.

Two years and three promotions later, not only have all my professional fears been assuaged, but I’ve learned a tremendous lesson – confidence in your own capabilities is the most valuable, and marketable skill you can possess.

Now employed as Manager of Global Corporate Communications at full-service media agency Universal McCann, a subsidiary of IPG Mediabrands, I now know that it was naïve of me to prematurely determine that my degree (English) would dictate my career path.  

Your transcript does not define you – so do not be afraid to venture beyond your comfort zone to explore opportunities in fields that don’t necessarily comply with your academic achievements; you may be surprised to find that the potential value you bring to a company may exceed even your own expectations.

Opportunities in the greater advertising industry are abundant and Universal McCann, known more widely as UM, affords a bounty of opportunities to recent college graduates from all fields ranging from traditional marketing to finance and even computer science.

UM’s job specifically is to develop comprehensive media plans for some of the world’s largest brands such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, BMW and Spotify.

No, we’re not the Don Draper types sipping scotch and huffing down Lucky Strikes on our Madison Avenue offices as we coolly come up with the next big campaign. Rather, we are a massive team (700 here in NYC alone) dedicated to devising solutions to just about every other problem that our clients face.

Whether that be creating custom content to advertise through social media, devising a strategy to target a high-value audience in order to increase sales to a specific demographic, pitching and placing stories with various media outlets or working closely with the clients to understand their exact needs, carving out a niche here is easy once you work up the courage to walk through the doors for the first time.

Even if you’re not ready to take the plunge off the deep end fully into your professional career, opportunities still exist within our network. IPG Mediabrands has a ten-week PAID internship program with a 75% hire-back rate – those are odds you’re not going to find elsewhere.

If you’re still curious about the opportunities IPG Mediabrands and UM can afford you then I encourage you to visit our career site ( or reach out directly to someone at the company who has a job you may be interested in. Though we can’t provide everyone with an internship or mentoring/shadowing opportunity, there is no shortage of incredible individuals willing to support you as you take the next step.

Ultimately, the best advice that I can provide to you is to bet on yourself.

What you studied, where you studied and the past 20 years of your life does not determine who you will be in the next 20.

Find your voice, find your passion and don’t sell yourself short because it’s those who aggressively position themselves for the future without the weight of their past that succeed.

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