This morning we had to be in Soho at 10AM for a seminar called “Your Book, Your Brand, Your Beginning” where four creative recruiters talked to us about how to go about putting our portfolios together, what they look for in creative candidates, how to separate yourself from the clutter of competition, and what to focus on when looking for a job in the industry. There was a lot of great information that definitely helped me get a better understanding of how I need to present my work in the future in interviews – which was a fabulous segue into our next event: student portfolio reviews (12PM-4PM). My group and people from four to five other university programs and portfolio schools (and young professionals) filed into a huge room full of long tables and got to work. We were kind of confused about what to do but we figured it out after a while. Basically, we all spread out throughout the room where several advertising professionals from top agencies were sitting. Our goal was to show as many of them our portfolios as possible so we could get as much feedback as possible. We had to wait in long lines just to get to one person, but somehow I managed to get in 6 reviews by strategically choosing the shortest lines – I guess I was lucky because all my critics were from big-name agencies. For those who had already graduated or who are graduating this semester were mostly looking for leads on jobs, but thankfully the pressure was lower for me since I have another year to hone my craft.
With that in mind, I approached my first critic, a Creative Director at McCann-Erikson Worldwide (back in the day they did the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign, their current work can be found at (www.mccannworldgroup.com). He told me firstly that I was a “classically trained writer” and that I should thank my professors for helping me develop those skills. He then gave me some constructive criticism on my campaigns, but ultimately was surprisingly complimentary considering I expected I’d get chewed apart on my first one. From there on I talked with the recruiter from Gotham Inc. (the agency I toured yesterday… www.gothaminc.com), the Senior Vice President at Leo Burnett (infamous for creating famous icons like Tony the Tiger… www.leoburnett.com), a woman from TBWA/Chiat/Day (www.tbwachiat.com), and a Copywriter from Saatchi&Saatchi (www.saatchi.com). Overall I felt that they were all very helpful in giving me areas I could improve in and stuff I need to focus on to make my book stand out from the others. All of them told me that I was either where I need to be or ahead of where I need to be in regards to how far I am in my education – which was really encouraging. Some were more critical than others, one told me that she was basically ambivalent on several of my campaigns while some were highly impressed by my writing ability and smart thinking. My last review was with a Copywriter/Art Director pair from Deutsch (the agency has done a lot of work for the Truth campaign against tobacco… www.duestchinc.com) they were by far the most impressed with my work, which honestly caught me off guard because I was really intimidated by them while I was waiting in line. They said that I was a had several good campaigns “with legs” (which means that they could be expanded across several different media and had the potential to be long-lasting – basically that’s great news for any client and any creative). What really caught me off-guard was that when they found out that I wasn’t graduating (they were shocked that I still had a year left), they asked me if I was interested in an internship this summer and said that they were saving a spot especially for someone from OneShow and to shoot them an email. That was by far the biggest compliment I could have gotten. Although I already have a job and an internship lined up for this summer (and I can’t afford to live in NYC), I still shot them an email when I got back to the hotel just to cement the relationship… besides, who knows?
After the portfolio review was the student exhibition (5PM-7PM) where all the entered student work was displayed for us (and anyone else) to view. I discovered earlier this week that they had already announced the finalists for the competition and that no one from SMU made the cut, but it was still fun to look around at the work from other schools and see what kind of stuff their producing (it was encouraging to see that, although some of it was beautifully executed, some of it really sucked). However, one thing that really kind of frustrated me was that my ad that was submitted was not on the SMU wall. Actually, a couple of our entries weren’t on our wall. It wasn’t a huge problem, I just don’t understand why it was missing and neither did my professor. We all just decided that the OneShow people have been rather unorganized and left it at that. I didn’t need my ad on the wall to know that it was good (one of the reviewers has said it was my best campaign when they saw it in my book).
When we had finished viewing the work, we all left and walked to Union Square to eat at Max Brenner’s chocolate shop and restaurant where dinner was paid for by Temerlin. So, I ordered an $18 salmon dish which was delicious (I made sure I ordered something that was out of my normal price range, because I figure that I’ve thrown enough money SMU’s way to justify a pricey entree). It was nice to get the chance to sit around with the other students in my program and discuss the day and their experience at the review – apparently some didn’t experience very good feedback as others. After dinner, Val and I walked back to the hotel, making sure to walk through Union Square on the way.
Tomorrow we have another full day ahead of us: a viewing of the student client pitch competition (12PM-5PM) and the student award presentation ceremony (7PM-9PM). Fun stuff.