When five newly graduated ComArtSci advertising alums headed to New York for a field experience trip, they didn’t expect for it to lead each of them to an esteemed internship. For Claire Meads, Savannah Benavides, Ryan Lowe, Jacques Chouinard and Matt Richter, this trip was just a glimpse into the success their futures would hold.
From May 7-13, the group traveled alongside ComArtSci Advertising and Public Relations professor Henry Brimmer, who has traveled to New York the past seven years. The students who attend these field experience trips are selected among ComArtSci’s best. It’s in NYC that they attended the One Club Creative Week.
“There are various reasons for the trip, but first and foremost are the portfolio review sessions with creative directors and talent recruiters from the top agencies,” said Brimmer. “During these sessions, each one of our students has an opportunity to show their portfolio to 12 to 18 folks who might offer them an internship, a job or give them valuable feedback.”
In addition to portfolio reviews, Brimmer also notes that they visited agencies such as Red Peak, Pereira & O’Dell, HAVAS, Droga5 and Ogilvy. Claire Meads, who now interns at GTB, encourages current MSU students to go on a field experience trip.
“The trip allowed me to learn more about the industry and how the hiring process works,” said Meads. “It allowed me to learn what fit would be best for me in the sense of agency environment and location, and helped me strive for the best position I could reach.”
Savannah Benavides, who, along with Ryan Lowe, received an internship at Geometry Global, stresses the importance of networking when it comes to standing out in the professional world. She credits the field experience trip for providing the means to talk to those currently working in her profession.
“During the trip, I was able to learn a lot about interacting with potential employers and recruiters, and gained a lot of practice mingling and networking in a professional setting,” said Benavides. “Because of this practice and experience, I was able to properly network and interact with the recruiter that reached out to me in regards to my portfolio.”
For Jacques Chouinard, who now has an internship at Doner, the feedback each student received on their portfolio was incredibly helpful in applying for internships.
“The most important thing any young creative can do is to show their portfolio to as many reputable people in our industry early on,” said Chouinard. “This is invaluable as it provides you with feedback that you can use to improve your portfolio.”
Chouinard also acknowledged the ComArtSci career fair when seeking out his current job.
“I secured my internship by attending the ComArtSci Connect career fair in the spring. I spoke with a recruiter during the fair and he passed my resume off to the writers at his agency that then reviewed my online portfolio,” said Chouinard. “I can't stress enough the importance of developing a strong portfolio early on as it, along with your perseverance, is how you will secure an internship.”
Reid Masimore, who went on the NYC study away trip in 2014, also points to his portfolio as a key aspect in receiving an internship. Reid currently works at Ogilvy & Mather in NYC as a copywriter.
“I don't think my portfolio would be what it was had it not been for my portfolio preparation classes and the guidance of Henry Brimmer and Larry Steinberg,” said Masimore. “Preparing my portfolio, doing my research on New York ad agencies and practicing for portfolio reviews significantly helped me get the most out of my trip.”
According to Matt Richter, who landed an internship at 360i in New York, it’s the people at ComArtSci that make all the difference. Richter notes that Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles, Paula Storrer, Lou Schiavone, Karl Gude and Jef Richards positively impacted his experience at MSU.
“I have been more places, met more people and created more things in the last year than I ever have before, and I owe it all to the people of the MSU advertising program,” said Richter.
His advice? Don’t waste any time.
“Do everything. I know that sounds cliche, but seriously, work your butt off,” said Richter. “Meet your professors, do the summer intensive portfolio workshop, do Minds Wide Open, go to Shanghai and go to New York. And when you're doing all these things and going all these places don't waste a second, because there is a very good chance you may never be back there.”
If there’s two things that these alumni suggest, it’s to work on your portfolio and network to the best of your ability. A strong portfolio can make or break an interview, and ComArtSci has plenty of resources to help you get organized. Also, don’t forget about the college’s vast alumni base, with over 48,000 ComArtSci alumni who are more than willing to help current students find opportunities after graduation.
“Meeting with alumni was also very helpful because they understand where you are coming from,” said Richter. “They understand the program at MSU, and have great insights on how to get where you want to go.”
One thing is for sure: ComArtSci has the trips, tools and resources students need to find success post-commencement.
By Katie Kochanny