Advertising Class Takes on Chicago

The advertising world is changing. It’s not enough to have a college degree, or a good resume and cover letter. You need passion. You need creativity. You need to go the extra mile. ADV 402: Public Relations in Chicago allowed me to explore a variety of advertising agencies during a field experience trip. Over the course of four days during winter break, our class split into groups to visit Groupon, Mosaic, Walker Sands, Intersport, Current, Starcom, Henson Consulting, Ketchum, Burson-Marsteller, Leo Burnett, FleishmanHillard and Edelman

My ADV 402 class in Chicago gave me a better perspective on what it takes to make it in this increasingly competitive industry. Each agency helped me discover what characteristics I want in my future employer, as well as the traits I need to jumpstart my career. 

A Chicago Experience

Over the course of our trip, I toured a total of eight advertising and public relations agencies across Chicago. From smaller companies like Walker Sands Communications to huge companies like Leo Burnett, there was something unique at each place we visited. 

This trip has opened my eyes to finding the best place for me and the importance of workplace culture. Internships are crucial to find the right fit. Ketchum explained how they use internships as a trial run, which seemed to be the case at all the other agencies we visited. 


Group photo at Ketchum, a PR agency in Chicago

Katie Johnson from FleishmanHillard also emphasized the importance of their cultural fit stating, “If you’re willing to be stuck at an airport with your coworkers, then it’s a right fit.” I’ve realized the only way you can tell if the company is a good fit is by visiting or through an in-person interview. 

Reflecting on Career Choices

After our tour with Walker Sands, I met up with one of their media relations specialists, Meg Dedyne. While getting coffee, she explained how you need to have a passion for public relations to succeed in this industry. The way she described the adrenaline rush when talking with reporters and ghostwriting helped me realize that I would rather focus on writing and social media. I like to create, not reiterate. I also like to be recognized for my work, whereas public relations acts as a middle-man. This one-on-one chat provided clarity on what role I want to play in this industry. 

Ultimately, this trip led by the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in Chicago has been a great experience. Meeting with each agency and public relations leader provided valuable knowledge and perspective on getting started in my career, living in Chicago, and the public relations industry itself. I vastly expanded my network and found a few places in which I could see myself working. I will definitely take all the career advice and connections I made to start a great future career in Chicago. The advertising world may be changing, but I’ll be ready for it. 

By Sierra Richards