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Loyola Kicks Off Advertising Job Shadow Program

Image Credit: swanksalot via Flickr

As college students are scrambling to find full-time jobs, they realize that making connections in their chosen industry is absolutely crucial.

To help with that, Loyola University started a job shadow program that gives students interested in advertising an opportunity to spend time in an employer’s environment and get exposure to the industry, said Martin Gahbauer, who directs employee relations at the university’s career center.

Loyola’s first advertising job shadow event took place on Jan. 11 at Draftfcb, a Chicago-based global advertising agency.

About 40 Loyola students attended the event with Gahbauer and Herb Ritchell, who directs the university’s advertising and public relations program.

Once students reached the 21st floor of the building, Courtney Childs, an agency recruiter ushered them into a conference room.

For the next few hours, they learned about Draft’s philosophy of “6.5 seconds that matter,” — which is the average amount of time consumers spend engaging with a message — the company’s internal culture and internship opportunities.

Attendants learned how larger advertising agencies function and what recruiters look for in prospective candidates.

“It’s a lot more regimented than I thought it would be,” said Michael Cabellon, a 21-year-old senior studying advertising at Loyola.

Recruiters look to hire entry-level employees who have demonstrated leadership in the past, Childs said. When reviewing applicants’ resumes, she looks for demonstrated leadership first. For example, she said, if you were the president of the advertising club at your university, you should position that at the top of your resume.

After everyone finished their lunches, a panel of experts consisting of six entry-level employees took the stage. They discussed what it takes to get a job at the agency, their passion for advertising and what the interview process was like. The panelists work across various disciplines from account management, to creative, to media planning.

Lauren Hystead, a copywriter, sympathized with students’ anxiety in finding a full-time job. A Draft recruiter called her in for an interview the day before she graduated from the University of Missouri, she said. Soon after she received an internship offer and had a few weeks to find an apartment in Chicago.

Because her mother was a creative director, Hystead fell in love with advertising at a very young age. When bring-your-daughter- to-work day rolled around each year, she savored every moment of it.

Cabellon enjoyed the Q and A panel because “it was helpful to hear from people my age about how they got there, and what they think of working at Draft,” he said.

Working professionals in the advertising industry often say “It’s about who you know, not what you know.”

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, such as candidates who “wow” agencies with their breadth of relevant work experience. Assistant account executive Kelly Porquiz impressed Draft with her experience interning at BBDO Europe. That’s how she landed her position as an intern which eventually turned into a full-time job, she said.

The agency hires a majority of designers and copywriters from portfolio schools, Childs said. For aspiring creatives who aren’t ready to spend $15,000 to $30,000 a year on portfolio school, the agency visit was a little disconcerting.

But that’s won’t stop determined students like Cabellon from finding a job at an advertising agency. He’s traveling to New York during spring break to pound the pavement and try to secure interviews at various agencies.

After the question-and-answer panel, Childs explained how to craft an effective resume. At the conclusion of her brief presentation, she meandered throughout the room, providing feedback on students’ resumes.

When asked how informative the job shadow visit was, 93 percent of survey respondents said it was “very good” and 20 percent plan on applying to Draft, according to a survey administered by Loyola’s Career Center.

Students interested in working at the agency should apply to the paid summer internship program for rising seniors, or the associate’s program, a 12-month entry-level training program for full-time hires.

“I thought the program went fabulous!” Childs said in an e-mail after the job shadow event. “We enjoyed the student’s participation and all of the questions they asked, we could tell they were engaged. I don’t think it could have gone any better!”

The first job shadow event for Loyola communications students was successful and will definitely continue in the future, Gahbauer said.

He was inspired to launch the program due to his experience with advertising as an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois. Gahbauer attended a job shadow event hosted by the American Advertising Federation. Then he landed a position at Leo Burnett in account management on graduation day and worked there for about 20 years.

Next year Loyola communications students may visit Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising, marketing and public relations agency.

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.