If you can play a musical instrument (and play means knowing more than how to hit a C chord on a guitar), you have a definite advantage in getting into a music company because playing a horn, bass, or piano will show that you have an interest in music.
Try radio production companies, too. They work directly with agencies producing radio commercials. There's a lot you could learn there about production that would be useful later on in your career. And you would also meet agency people who could help you break into the production department of an advertising agency.
Try the sound studios. Sometimes they need people, even if it's only to do odd jobs. Working around a sound studio will give you the opportunity to learn a bit about the audio side of production, as well as the chance to make a few contacts in production companies and agencies.
Working somewhere within the production business is the only way you'll get the experience you will need to become an agency broadcast producer, but it's not the only way to get that experience. Not as long as there are colleges and film schools around.
There isn't an abundance of courses you can take which directly relate to broadcast production, but there are a few. You would do well to take a course in filmmaking in any format, 8 mm or 16 mm. Likewise, take a course in film or video tape production if you can, plus any available course in audio or music production.
You should also expand your studies into other areas. Take courses in theater and drama, graphics and design, and painting and drawing. Take a creative writing course or two. And don't pass up the chance to learn something about marketing, merchandising, psychology, or promotion. Business administration and bookkeeping courses would be good for you, too.
You can try for summer jobs in the same places you look when you're ready to start working full time. Check with production companies, editors, music production companies, and with any other firm that is involved in commercial production.
If you're lucky, maybe you can get on an agency's internship program.
If you can't find summer employment in any of those places, there is one more avenue you have open to you, provided that you're more fortunate than most souls and don't need to earn any money during your summer break. Call any place that has anything to do with the production of broadcast advertising and ask if you can just hang out there. Without pay.
It's not the best of situations and, to be honest, you will have to be darned lucky to find a company to go along with the idea. But if you can swing it, you'll learn more about production standing around with your eyes open and your mouth shut than you would chasing the opposite sex on a beach somewhere.
No matter what kind of an education you get, and no matter what kind of experience you have when you start your search for full-time employment in the broadcast production department of an advertising agency, you are going to need a portfolio.
Once you've got your portfolio, you'll need someone in an advertising agency to show it to, and that person would be the head of broadcast production. To find the head of broadcast production's name in almost any agency, check the Advertising Redbook. If an agency doesn't have a production head listed, call the creative director. If you're looking in a very small agency and you don't find any of the above, call an art director or copywriter. If you still don't have any luck, call the general manager or even the president if that's what it takes.
Just know this going in: if you want to be good, you've got to work with good people, so do a little homework. Page through the awards annuals: Creativity, CA, The One Show Annuals, and the Clio Magazines (they're probably in your library). Find out which agencies are doing award-winning work. Check the account lists of agencies in the Redbook while you're looking for department heads, then call those agencies whose advertising you like best.
One more suggestion for would-be producers. If you want to get into television, call those agencies that do a lot of TV. (Agency billings are broken down according to media percent-ages in the Redbook.) Agencies that do a lot of TV are more likely to get you involved at a younger age than are agencies which don't get to do that much TV.
No matter where you call, though, be prepared for a lot of stiff competition, and don't be surprised if you have to call on a bunch of agencies before you connect with the job you really want.
Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, not even in the movies. Be patient. When your search is through and you've blossomed into a bona fide broadcast producer, you will realize that all of the work it took to get there was well worth the effort.
As a broadcast producer, you will get to work with the best directors, cinematographers, actors, and actresses. You may also work with athletes, business tycoons, and politicians.
Advertising broadcast producers don't always stay broadcast producers. More than one has left the agency business for a career with a production company. Still others have gone into television and even feature motion pictures.
Wherever your career as an advertising broadcast producer takes you, though, the things you learn on your way to becoming a producer will stay with you throughout your life. You will always have the ability to get things done. You will always be able to accomplish things that others can't, because you will have learned to keep plugging away at a task until it is finished. You will develop a feeling about yourself that says, "I can do anything if I put my mind to it."