Alumnus Emphasizes the Importance of a Passion Project

If there’s one thing ComArtSci Advertising alumnus Terry Sieting ’13 wants you to know, it’s that getting a job won’t come from simply going to class. If you want to stand out from other applicants, you need to put in time both inside and outside of the classroom, something Sieting knows all ComArtSci students are capable of.

“Personal projects are the most important thing you can do, period, in ComArtSci,” said Sieting. “Not just in advertising, but if you’re going to be a videographer, photographer writer, anything, involve yourself in a passion project outside the classroom. These always stand out brighter and better than any other project because you’re able to talk about it in a way that you’re not able to talk about classroom work.”

All that hard work outside of the classroom certainly paid off for Sieting, as he’s now the associate creative director at Traction, a small agency based in downtown Lansing. The best part about his job? Getting to work on a multitude of projects, something that allows him to never be bored.

“In a small agency, you get to wear so many hats, which is one of the best parts about being here,” said Sieting. “So on any given day I might be doing some copywriting, brand strategy, campaign design, anything that has to do with the conceptual aspect.”

Finding Your Passion

So why work on an additional project? Because it’ll allow you to dig deep and discover the kinds of things that make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. If you were assigned a project in class, Sieting understands that it may not have your full interest. Many students are willing to do the work, but don’t have a personal connection to the brand or company. This is why Sieting believes a passion project is so important.

“Let’s say you’re passionate about animals,” said Sieting. “If you were to approach a shelter and ask for the opportunity to pitch to them a rebrand, you might be significantly more invested in that project and its outcome because you actually care and it might actually have an impact.”

Inside ComArtSci

When Sieting looks back on his time at ComArtSci, it’s his field experience trip that stands out. He was able to attend the One Club Creative Week in New York City and network with a handful of top professionals in the advertising world. 

“While I was in ComArtSci, Jef Richards and Henry Brimmer were organizing trips to New York City,” said Sieting. “We went to One Club Creative Week which was really exciting for the MSU students. You got access to the biggest and best professionals in our industry.”

Not only did Sieting get to attend the creative week, but he also had his portfolio looked at by some of the top firms in the country, Design Army being one of them. He notes that it was this portfolio review that really had an impact on his time as an MSU student. But his favorite part about ComArtSci? The people.

“You forge bonds with friends unlike any that you might get outside of ComArtSci,” said Sieting. “There was always an opportunity to share ideas with like-minded individuals. I think ComArtSci has a great platform for doing so, if you’re willing to engage as a student.”

Never Settling

Many students have been told to apply to as many jobs as possible, regardless of their location, vision or overall work environment. Sieting couldn’t disagree more with this outlook. He believes it’s smarter to find ten or so companies that you love, and target them specifically.

“Whether or not they have an internship program, whether or not they have jobs open, you go after those ten places very, very hard,” said Sieting. “I’m talking about things like making a few extra portfolios, digital, physical or otherwise, and sending them directly to those companies.”

Once you find your niche, it’s important to never get too comfortable. ComArtSci is a platform for you to find something you love wholeheartedly, so don’t stop until you get there.

“I think the thread amongst ComArtSci alumni that make them successful, at least the ones that I know, is this drive to never settle,” said Sieting. “The idea that even when you get into a job, don’t get comfortable there. If you’re in an internship, be questioning yourself the entire time.”

Remember Spartans: We question, we answer, we create.

By Katie Kochanny