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The first year for We Are Next looked like over 1200 subscribers, over 150 job leads, and 14 podcasts in the fold. As dizzy as the job hunt can be fresh out of college, We Are Next demystifies the advertising industry for recent grads and those early in their career. We caught up with the founder and 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, Natalie Kim, recently to talk about how We Are Next was cultivated and beyond. 

Who are you and where are you from?
I am Natalie Kim, founder of We Are Next, and I live in Los Angeles, California.

What has your experience been working in the advertising industry?
I knew I wanted to go into advertising before I even got to college! To me, it was the perfect combination of people, psychology, culture, creativity, and persuasion.

I worked in advertising for 10 years, most recently as Director of Strategy at Firstborn in New York City and have partnered with clients such as L’Oreal, HBO, and Coca-Cola. Through hard work and agencies that believed in me, I was recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, and was awarded the GenNext Award by She Runs It for young women making their mark in the industry.

What is We Are Next and what real-life experiences prompted the creation of it?
We Are Next is the only resource created specifically to help students and junior talent pursuing advertising begin their careers with confidence. Through its weekly email and podcast, it gathers perspectives and advice from all over the industry so that those just starting out better understand the landscape and opportunities that lie ahead.

I do a lot of guest lecturing at universities, and what struck me the most was the consistent levels of anxiety, confusion and self-doubt students expressed over getting into advertising. I felt like we as an industry could be doing a better job guiding the next generation of talent, and that by sharing our unique perspectives, we could paint a more holistic, ever-evolving image of what to expect.

I felt like we as an industry could be doing a better job guiding the next generation of talent. Click To Tweet

What void does We Are Next fill for emerging advertising professionals?
Our steady stream of content—a blend of practical advice and emotional support—is free and open to all, helping to scale mentorship and make it more inclusive. And by making sure all voices are represented, we enable students to see themselves in the industry.

For an industry full of busy people, We Are Next is an easy outlet for providing mentorship that scales to benefit the most people.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you've faced while building this brand?
There’s always a level of skepticism when what you create is free, especially among those who are really busy. I’m always reaching out to professors, ad clubs, recruiters, and talent teams within agencies to raise awareness of We Are Next, and I can totally relate to those who send a cold email and never hear back or get stood up for a call. It’s a constant lesson in patience, perseverance, and not taking things personally.

How can others get involved in We Are Next?
I’m always looking for guest contributors for our Weekly email, as well as guests for the We Are Next Podcast! We look for people from all corners—all agencies, all roles and all levels. And you don’t have to be super senior to contribute. Some of our most popular content comes from those 1-5 years into their careers, since their experience is most relevant to those just starting out.

Is there anything else you'd like MiMbers to know?
To those just starting out—you look up to the industry and the people in it. But it’s the industry that looks to you because you’ll be the ones to come in and change it for the better.

Want to learn more about We Are Next? Check them out: Advice | Podcast | Subscribe