Mentoring Minds Wide Open

A little experience goes a long way. Advertising graduates Andi Tonis and Lukas Miller have been out in the real world for less than five years, but they’re ready to leave their mark on this year’s Minds Wide Open, the annual competition that partners MSU advertising undergrads with students from all over the world to create successful ad campaigns.

Alumni Turned Mentors
Miller ’13 and Tonis ’15 are joining the group of 21 mentors next week. Flying in from Los Angeles and Chicago, the alumni are excited to return to their alma mater and dive into the competition.  

“I’m so amped to be back at Michigan State,” said Tonis, who now works as an art director at Mcgarrybowen Chicago. “I’m the youngest mentor and pretty competitive, so I’m ready to make something crazy.”

Miller, who works as a copywriter at Deutsch, said that he’s hoping to learn as much from the students as they learn from him.

“Mentoring is just as much of a learning experience for the mentor as it is the mentee,” said Miller. “I get to witness how this diverse, talented group of future rockstars thinks and acts. It’s a moment for me to reflect on what I’ve learned, how I ask questions and how I can pass that on.”

The Main Event
For the competition, each team, consisting of 6-8 students, will receive a creative brief, a translator and two professional mentors.

“I think it’s brilliant and benefits everyone involved,” said Tonis. “Bringing [students] and mentors from all over the world to work together and compete against a common goal is such an interesting dynamic. Henry Brimmer is a genius and I’m happy to be invited back.”

Minds Wide Open is Brimmer’s brainchild, and he’s excited to see the event expanding. In previous years, Chinese students were the only international participants. This year, ComArtSci will be welcoming students from Mexico, Germany, Spain and South Africa as well.

“Henry has worked tirelessly to create a competitive and successful program, and I owe so much of my success to him,” said Tonis. “His high standards, honesty and dedication to his students are a very special combination.”

Advice from Alumni
Miller and Tonis know a thing or two about what it takes to make it in the industry. Their advice for current students? Take full advantage of the opportunities available within the college.

“What’s amazing about ComArtSci is that it’s a true sandbox,” said Miller. “You can dig for treasures, make a moat, meet some friends or take the toys out of the box and do something completely different. If you just stick to the syllabus, you’re going to miss out.”

Tonis advises that students learn as much as they can, inside and outside of the classroom. Expanding your skillsets only makes your resume more appealing to a potential employer.

“Teach yourself animation, illustration, whatever you’re interested in,” said Tonis. “It’ll expand your thinking, give you a new perspective, make yourself more marketable when searching for a job and help you keep your job.”

Miller also wants students to keep in mind that there is no single way to do fulfilling work that also fills the bank account.

“Be open to everything and explore diverse and opposing perspectives. In the end, it’s your life and all that matters is that you are happy with it,” said Miller. “If not, keep working, keep searching, keep an open heart and it will come.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets