The American Advertising Foundation held their annual Meet the Pros Conference in Omaha last week, February 20-21. Students from all over this region were invited for a two day conference to learn from many different creative professionals from the Omaha area.
The first day of the conference consisted of six speakers, a keynote panel and company tours. Each speaker was brought from all around Omaha and all had very different backgrounds. We learned about how to start your own business and create a consistent brand as well as how real life collaboration takes place in this field.
“The main thing I took from this conference was how important it is to be yourself and how putting your personality into your work will set you apart from the crowd and can help you succeed in life.”
I think the most interesting part of the day was hearing from the 2013 World Air Guitar Champion, Eric “Mean” Melin. He is also the Senior Social Media Community Manager at Callahan Creek, but he was able to relate his process of being the World Air Guitar champion to how you work with clients from start to finish. He says he had to research, ask questions, and fail a lot in order to get to the top.
“When you are working with a client, you need to do your homework and get to know them a lot before you start,” he said.He also told many stories on how clients would turn down ideas that he loved.
The day concluded with the company tours. All the students were able to sign up to go visit a real company’s office in Omaha. We were able to see and experience the cultures of a company and see how they work.
The second day was filled with more speakers and networking but also had a chance for students to interact with the pros a little more. We were able to have roundtable discussions with the pros that attended the conference and ask them questions.
Most of our conversations were about how they started and what tips they would give to students right out of college. This was one of my favorite parts of the conference because you can’t really learn this information anywhere else. Having people, some even UNK graduates, who have gone through the same things we are going through give us advice was priceless.
Most of the pros were very blunt, which I greatly appreciated. I was able to ask them direct questions and they gave me direct answers. None of the people I spoke with said it was going to be easy and always enjoyable, but said that it was worth it. Pros emphasized the importance of hard work and how you can start from the bottom and really work your way up only if you put in your whole self into each project you do.
I really appreciated and enjoyed the variety of personalities at this event. After hearing from Amy Schwartz, the Design Director at Cards Against Humanity, I knew that this profession was right for me. She showed the fun, sarcastic side to working in a creative field that really related to me. She told the story of the process of creating their annual Black Friday campaign for Cards Against Humanity and how this past year they dug a pit to raise money.
The very famous card game company decided to livestream digging a really big hole in the ground and were able to raise money from it. Her work with that company is the type of thing I would like to do after college, so I am very grateful to have heard her speak and see that not every advertiser is the same. Sometimes unique things like digging a hole can actually do a whole lot of good!
The portfolio reviews were the most talked about part of this conference. Students were able to present their portfolios to many different pros during the review session at the end of the day. The line was out the door while students waited for a chance to sit down and show off their work to the pros. Although I am not a senior and did not have a portfolio to present, I still was able to receive valuable advice from many different people.
This conference for me was very eye opening and made me think about a lot of things. Even though I am only a sophomore, I need to start working toward finding a job when I graduate. They stressed networking a lot at this conference and putting your name out there so potential future employers can get to know you before you even graduate. We had many opportunities to start doing that during our two days in Omaha as well.
I learned about the ins and outs of the advertising world and how many different jobs are all in this field. Many pros started as copywriters but ended up as creative directors. Some started at large ad firms, but then ended up in small startups or even starting their own businesses. I learned that I have many different opportunities in this field and am not limited to one type of job after college. The main thing I took from this conference was how important it is to be yourself and how putting your personality into your work will set you apart from the crowd and can help you succeed in life. Every speaker tied this concept into their talks in different ways. When interviewing or putting together a portfolio, it is very easy to do the same things that you are seeing around you. Being able to see past the trends and be innovative in all aspects of your professional life will really benefit you.
This conference, although geared towards Advertising and Graphic design students, shared great knowledge that extends these career fields. I was proud to represent UNK and the Communication Department and invite all students interested to come next year and experience Meet the Pros for themselves, even if it’s just for the free stuff.
Twitter: Check out the Meet the Pros twitter account to see more about what happened at the 2017event. @MTPOmaha
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