So You Want to Be Don Draper

by
Writer, Senior Editor, Wintergreen Orchard House

Apr   2014

Fri

11

The first half of the final season of Mad Men starts this Sunday. Whether you’ve been watching the show since day one or you’ve never seen a single episode, it’s next to impossible to ignore the scope of the show’s cultural influence. Everything from clothing to furniture has been tinged with the Mad Men aesthetic of clean lines and precise tailoring. Dozens of Mad Men-inspired books, including numerous cookbooks as well as the memoirs of real 1960s ad men (and women), have been published in recent years. And several New York City landmarks that have appeared on the show, such as the Roosevelt Hotel, have even offered tourists a chance to slip through time and experience the world that Sterling Cooper & Partners would have inhabited.

Madison Avenue’s 1960s heyday has long been over, but if you’ve ever felt nostalgic for a time you never experienced or imagined yourself filling the shoes of one of Mad Men’s colorful characters, you’re in luck: the wardrobe may have changed, but the job titles have not. Here’s a look at some of the careers featured on the show and how you can pursue them today.

Harry Crane: Media Buyer

What the job entails

Media buyers help ensure that a client’s advertisements are placed at the best possible time for the best possible price. On Mad Men, Harry’s focus is on television advertising, but today’s media buyers also negotiate the price and placement of online advertising.

Majors to consider

  • Advertising
  • Communications
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Public relations

Schools to consider

Explore this list of the many Colleges with Fine Programs in Communications/Journalism.

Peggy Olson: Copywriter

What the job entails

As the title suggests, copywriters write copy (any written material) needed for advertising and marketing. On the show, much of Peggy’s work appears in print or on television, but today’s copywriters write for a wide array of mediums, including direct marketing e-mails, online advertisements, blogs, and even social media.

Majors to consider

  • Advertising
  • Communications
  • English
  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Media studies

Schools to consider

Check out the aforementioned list of schools with strength in communications and journalism, as well as this list of Colleges for the Student Who Wants to Major in English.

18 Moments When Peggy Olson Was A Total Badass
AMC via buzzfeed.com

Betty Francis: Former Model

What the job entails

Modeling may seem like a glamorous profession, but Giselle and Kate Moss are the exception, not the rule. Breaking into modeling can be incredibly difficult, to say the least, but there are plenty of other careers for people interested in fashion that aren’t quite so cutthroat—and a college education will get you on track for success.

Majors to consider

  • Business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fashion design
  • Fashion merchandising
  • Production management
  • Textile/surface design

Schools to consider

Yup, we’ve even got lists for fashion! Take a look at these Colleges with Excellent Programs in Fashion Design and Colleges with Excellent Programs in Fashion Merchandising.

Joan Harris: Office Manager

What the job entails

Office managers supervise, lead, and keep an office running smoothly and efficiently. They are the eyes and ears of the office as well as the machine that keeps it functioning. There isn’t one specific duty an office manager performs but rather a whole host of duties, such as managing the clerical aspects of the office, monitoring outcomes, delegating assignments, and bookkeeping. And, like Joan, an office manager knows what people need before they need it.

Majors to consider

  • English
  • Finance
  • Office management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Sociology

Schools to consider

Office managers can find work in a wide array of industries, so there isn’t one particular school that will best train you for this career. But this list of Colleges that Prepare You for the World of Business is sure to be helpful.


AMC via huffingtonpost.com

Pete Campbell: Account Executive

What the job entails

An advertising account executive acts as the liaison between the clients and the agency and is responsible for the running of the client’s campaign. It is the account executive’s job to ensure the agency is meeting the client’s needs and goals.

Majors to consider

  • Advertising
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Liberal arts
  • Media
  • Public relations

Schools to consider

See the above lists of schools with strengths in communications, journalism, and English, as well as this list of Great Colleges for the Liberal Arts.

Ken Cosgrove: Account Executive and Aspiring Author

What the job entails

Like Pete, Ken is also an account executive, but he also moonlights as a short story writer. In one memorable episode, he comes into the office with several copies of Atlantic Monthly under his arm and proudly announces that his short story, “Tapping a Maple on a Cold Vermont Morning,” has been published. Writing, like modeling, is a difficult field to break into—but it’s not impossible, and there are many career paths that will satisfy your literary inclinations.

Majors to consider

  • Creative writing
  • English
  • Journalism
  • Liberal arts
  • Marketing

Schools to consider

Take a look at all of the previously mentioned lists, as well as this list of Colleges for the Creative Writer (and this list with even More Colleges for the Creative Writer).


AMC via uproxx.com

Megan Draper: Actress

What the job entails

Acting is another tough industry to crack, but if you have your sights set on becoming an actor or actress, studying the craft in college is a great place to start. On the show, Megan makes it look easy, but turning acting into a full-time career takes hard work, patience, and a thick skin. But if it’s your passion and you keep at it, the end result will be hugely rewarding. And, as they say, there’s no business like show business!

Majors to consider

  • Acting
  • Film studies
  • Fine arts
  • Screenwriting
  • Theater

Schools to consider

There are loads of great schools where you can perfect the art of acting while getting a college education. Check out the following lists: Colleges with Excellent Theater Programs, The Experts’ Choice: Colleges for the Aspiring Actor, and Colleges with Quality Programs in Film Studies

Stan Rizzo: Art Director

What the job entails

In advertising, the art director usually works alongside a copywriter to develop ideas and turn them into an end product, such as a commercial or an advertisement in a magazine. The art director is responsible for the visual aspect of the work and the copywriter is responsible for the textual components.

Majors to consider

  • Drawing
  • Fine arts
  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Web design

Schools to consider

Look into these Colleges with Fine Graphic Design Programs, Colleges with Fine Programs in Visual/Studio Arts, and Colleges for the Artist that Doesn’t Want to Go to Art School.

Don Draper: Creative Director

What the job entails

In advertising, the creative director helps develop strategies for clients and works as the project manager, overseeing other employees as they execute those strategies. His or her primary goal is ensuring that all goals and deadlines are met.

Majors to consider

  • Advertising
  • Business
  • English
  • Graphic design
  • Journalism

Schools to consider

See the previously mentioned lists of schools with strengths in art, business, communications, English, and journalism.

mad men animated GIF
AMC via giphy.com

Whatever major you decide to pursue, make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about and will make you happy. And remember, as a wise woman once said, “Only boring people are bored.”

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About Stephanie Farah

Stephanie Farah

Stephanie is a Writer and Senior Editor at Wintergreen Orchard House, where she manages the collection of data from schools in the Northeast and Midwest regions. Stephanie holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's in journalism from the University of North Texas. At various times she has been: an uncertain undergrad, a financial aid recipient, a transfer applicant, and a grad student with an assistantship and a full ride. Stephanie is an avid writer, traveler, cook, and dog owner. She looks forward to sharing her experiences with college-bound students and the counselors guiding them along the way!  

You can circle Stephanie on Google+, follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to her CollegeXpress blog.

 
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