I started as an assistant art director (which was pretty lucky, cuz I jumped over few stepping stones) now I am waiting for my promotion... which should be arriving sometimes this week (so psyched!!!)
But this is how it goes—these the steps you have to take:
most of all, good art education/knowledge is pretty much manditory, so is a strong graphic design background/portfolio...( if you want to art direct others, you must first know the basics yourself :how to, why and where...)
~if you're persuing advertising:
normally you start as a designer (alto some places have a cheek to star you as production stuff) — year or two later (if you work hard and shine—it's usually sooner) you get an assistant art director position— another year of two you're art director —senior art director fallows—assistant creative director—creative director
~if you're persuing graphic design: (much longer process)
normally you start as a junior designer (some places again could star you as production stuff) — year or two later designer— another year of two senior designer —year or two later you get an assistant art director position—another year of two you're art director —senior art director fallows—assistant creative director—creative director
meanwhile this's what I would do in your position:
~get a portfolio together (give yourself projects: self stationary, posters, promo pieces,[redesign exsisting] book covers, booklets, cd covers [pick really bad ones] fake: magazine spread layouts....etc) even if its not perfect it's ok just do your best
~get as much and any experience; an intenship—the non-paid ones are easier to get, voluntary design, keep making contaccs connections....etc
~and keep taking classes (schooling cannot hurt you but help!)—you're already have a degree so it should be no problem, so you can either take non credit (cheaper) clasess or work up toward the second degree in design...
ps.Lindastar, designer connection dinner sounds great let's get together!