TAI Students Attend South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference

This Spring Break, TAI students and faculty went to South by Southwest (SXSW) to attend the SXSW Conference, which included sessions on Brands & Marketing, Design, Development & Code, Experiential Storytelling, VR/AR and the Intelligent Future.

TAI students and faculty during SXSW.

Students attending enrolled in a course, got a student discount and will be receiving 3 hours of pass/fail credit for the experience. The speakers and sessions at the SXSW Conference explore the newest trends and what’s next in entertainment, culture, and technology.

“The most relevant thing I learned was to create interesting content,” TAI graduate student Peyton Meersman said. “I think every session mentioned that content has to be original, creative, and interesting in order for it to be successful.”

While SXSW offers a wide variety of session topics, students attending found the sessions diverse and fascinating. A big topic discussed in many sessions was virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

“AI was a big theme at SXSW,” SMU student Katherine Scarpulla said. “I felt the most reasonable and crucial point I was presented was the healthy equation of AI. Chris White of Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit argued during his Lighting Up The Dark Web session that in order to solve our human created social problems, we must incorporate a healthy mix of data, AI and human interaction. He also stressed the importance of data literacy and the beneficence of data narrative to better illustrate social problems.”

TAI Professor Amber Benson and Director Dr. Steve Edwards

Along with the SXSW experience, TAI students got to shadow members of Agency Entourage, a Dallas-based creative digital agency, during sessions and attend a Boat Party hosted by the agency.

“The Agency Entourage boat party was a lovely experience,” Scarpulla said. “This experience enabled SMU Temerlin students to network with members of Agency Entourage as well as other professionals attending SXSW. I personally had to opportunity to talk with Austin, an AE member, who I had attended a session with earlier that day. I appreciated the occasion to discuss my experiences and thoughts about SXSW Interactive with advertising professionals and hear their thoughts and comments. It enabled me to view the information I gained during sessions from multiple viewpoints and understand its application to fields/industries other than mine.”

This was the first year that students could attend SXSW through TAI while receiving course credit. Many students were excited about the opportunity and greatly enjoyed their time spent in Austin.

“My SXSW Interactive experience was absolutely amazing,” Scarpulla said. “I cannot imagine not having attended this event because of the knowledge and relationships I gained as a result. I would encourage other Temerlin Students to apply for the course as it is an opportunity to apply your academics to real-time experiences.”

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TAI Hosts Visiting Scholar Dr. C.W. Park for Lecture on Brand Attachment

Monday March 20, the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. C. W Park, marketing professor at University of Southern California. Dr. Park discussed his research, “Brand Attachment: Theory and Practice,” with many SMU students and faculty attending the event. Through his research, Dr. Park assesses levels of brand attachment and how brands can attempt to achieve a strong consumer relationship.

“We all know that consumers trust and love products that meet their needs and provide a pleasing experience,” SMU MBA Candidate Kenneth Ryan said. “But Dr. Park helped complete the picture by elaborating on the growing importance of developing brand identities whose values match the consumers’ values. His chat at SMU gave students and faculty a glimpse into this growing field of marketing research.”

Dr. C.W. Park lecturing to audience of SMU students and faculty.

In his lecture, Dr. Park discusses the “3 E’s,” which are different types of benefits a brand can provide to consumers to develop trust, love, and respect for the brand. The “3 E’s” include enabling benefits, enticing benefits, and enriching benefits.

“I really liked Dr. Park’s presentation when he talked about the 3 E’s regarding brand attachment, especially Enriching benefits for customers,” TAI graduate student Phuong Nguyen said. “It’s hard enough to reach out to people these days and sell your products, and it’s even harder to provide them with inspiration and create a long-lasting relationship. I’m sure Dr. Park’s research paper will tell more about how brand attachment has a strong impact on the survival of the brand. These are very interesting and compelling ideas for brands that want to enter a new market.”

Dr. Park has published numerous articles in Journal of Marketing ResearchJournal of Consumer ResearchJournal of Marketing, and Journal of Consumer Psychology. He has also co-authored several books on marketing and brand management. Dr. Park was Editor of Journal of Consumer Psychology (2008-2012) and is currently the Director of the Global Branding Center at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (2008-present).

In addition, he was an advisor for Samsung from 1989 to 1998 and also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Samsung Corporation from 2001 to 2010. In addition, he has been serving as advisor for Pulmuone Corporation since 1993. He has been running and teaching a number of marketing executive programs at Marshall since 1998.

Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Park for a lecture on his research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.

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TAI Student Eric Sedeno Shares Experience Interning with Photomadic

Many students have a specific idea in their head about what type of company they want to work for. Usually this is a well-known, popular company that students idolize. However, these students often don’t realize that smaller, less well-known companies can provide an equally wonderful, if not even more hands-on experience. TAI student Eric Sedeno is interning this semester as the Jr. Design Intern with Photomadic, a small photo solutions and event marketing company in Dallas.

TAI student Eric Sedeno

Sedeno is an Advertising major on the Creative track with a minor in Graphic Design. He has had a lot of past experience with graphic design, which helped him get the job.

“I actually did not apply to this internship,” Sedeno said. “My boss found my LinkedIn profile and thought that my work was great and sent me an email about their company and what they were about. I visited their office and enjoyed how young and energetic the office was and decided to accept their job offer.”

The atmosphere and culture at the Photomadic office has provided Sedeno with many great memories already.

“One day after work we went to Sandbar [Cantina and Grill] to celebrate [a colleague] Dave’s birthday,” Sedeno said. “We played volleyball and bonded for about 2 hours and it was a great day. The other night we shot a promo video at a brewery in Dallas and everyone had a great time. It was fun to see everyone get even more comfortable and I felt like I was a part of the office crew.”

Many of the skills that Sedeno has learned in his graphic design and creative advertising courses have come in handy during his internship. He has learned many new skills as well.

Sedeno with his boss at Photomadic.

“Although I had a lot of design experience before my class, Intro to Graphic Design has really taught me about how to apply design principles and organize my projects better,” Sedeno said. “It’s really nice to take the design rules I am learning in class and applying then almost directly to what I am doing at my internship. [My internship] has expanded my knowledge of Photoshop tremendously and they have given me time to learn more Adobe programs, which is something I never thought I would have the chance to do.”

After graduation, Sedeno hopes to have a career as an Art Director in the advertising industry. His work experience and school training should help him to achieve this goal.

“My career is going to be as an Art Director in the Advertising industry so having any extra design experience is great,” Sedeno said. “I love being able to expand my knowledge on the programs that I will be using for the rest of my career. I even have my boss as a resource for how I should make my website look and what people in the design side of the world expect things to look like and what matters when they want to hire you.”

Although this was not a typical internship experience, from the application process to the job, Sedeno has had an incredible experience so far.

“I was very skeptical about taking this internship because I had never been approached about working in a place that I had never heard about,” Sedeno said. “But I took a chance, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I have learned a lot and built some great relationships. I have grown a lot as a designer and I am able to make money while gaining all these experiences. I can’t wait to see what else I gain from the rest of these experiences.”

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TAI Students Lindsey McCurdy & Bari Kesner Share Experience Being Student Athletes

Being a student athlete is tough at any level, but it only gets more difficult as the skill level progresses. College athletes face an extraordinary amount of stress during their years as a student athlete. Between practices, games and competitions, and classes, being a student athlete is a full-time job.

Lindsey McCurdy playing golf for SMU.

TAI student Lindsey McCurdy is an Advertising major on the Strategic Brand Management track and on the SMU Women’s Golf team. Like every student athlete, she has had to learn to balance her time between school and athletics.

“Balancing school and athletics is definitely tough,” McCurdy said. “It’s all about staying focused and managing priorities. Being involved in athletics can be mentally and physically exhausting, so being efficient with your time in both aspects is always important. Golf requires a heavy practice schedule almost every day of the week, so planning classes and study sessions ahead of time is important in order to stay on pace with school work.”

McCurdy chose advertising because it gave her an opportunity to marry her interests of sports and branding. She hopes to play golf professionally after she graduates, and she is planning on using her advertising knowledge to help in her success.

SMU Women’s Golf Team

“Advertising is going to play a big role in my post-grad plans,” McCurdy said. “Advertising plays a big part in tournaments, sponsorships, and personal branding in golf. Even when I am playing professionally, advertising and sponsorships will be a big part of my work on and off the course. As an individual sport, personal branding and company sponsorships are important for the success of the athletes in golf. Knowing the ins and outs of the business can help me during my time as a player as well as in my plans to stay in the business after my playing days end.”

TAI student Bari Kesner is an Advertising major the Strategic Brand Management track as well, and she is on the SMU Women’s Soccer team. Like McCurdy, Kesner has learned the art of balancing school and athletics.

“Being a college athlete really teaches you the art of time management,” Kesner said. “Procrastinating is not an option when you miss the amount of school we do during season. I have to be super organized and mark everything in my calendar (games, training, tests, due dates, etc.) in the beginning of the semester so I know how to adequately schedule my time.”

Immediately after graduation Kesner will not be pursuing a career in soccer. Instead, she will be joining Teach for America, serving as a teacher at a low-income school for two years.

Bari Kesner playing soccer for SMU.

“I honestly do not have one clear future career goal at this point of my life,” Kesner said. “I am joining the Teach For America Corps in Los Angeles post graduation in May and plan to teach middle school for the next couple of years. After my teaching experience I believe I will have a more clear vision of what I want to do for the rest of my professional life.”

Although she will not be working in advertising in a traditional sense, Kesner believes that her advertising courses will help her be a better teacher for the group of children she will be teaching.

“Advertising teaches you how to convince people what they need and why they need it or how it will better their lives,” Kesner said. “Because I will be teaching in underserved communities next year, I think advertising will help me successfully sell the importance of education to my students.”

Kesner (#24) and teammate.

While being a student athlete can lead to many different paths, every student athlete has a unique college experience that they share with each other.

“I have had a very different college experience and have missed countless social and school related events,” Kesner said. “But because of soccer I have learned important life lessons and have met girls that I know will be my best friends for the rest of my life because of what we have gone through together.”

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TAI Professor Sidharth Muralidharan’s Research Accepted to “Journal of Advertising Research”

TAI Assistant Professor Sidharth Muralidharan has been published in various academic journals, with five more publications forthcoming. His main research focuses are cross-cultural studies and advertising’s impact on mitigating social and environmental issues.

His most recent accepted publication is titled “‘Green’ with guilt: Assessing gender differences in ownership messaging efforts in support of England’s plastic bag charge.” The paper will be published in the Journal of Advertising Research, one of the major academic journals in the advertising field.

“There have been plastic bag ordinances where shoppers have the option of either buying plastic bags or avoiding the charge by bringing reusable bags,” Professor Muralidharan said. “One such law came into effect in England, UK. My co-author and I were interested to test the effectiveness of the law by exploring the interplay of guilt appeals in ads and gender on shoppers’ green attitudes and behavior.”

Professor Muralidharan and his co-author did a two-part study exploring gender differences in consumers’ feelings of guilt relating to reusable grocery bags in Study-1 and how each gender responded to guilt appeals in Study-2.

“Survey findings from Study-1 showed that guilt was more impactful on women and helped generate favorable green attitudes and behavior,” Professor Muralidharan said. “Based on these findings, Study-2 was designed to examine how men and women would respond to guilt appeals for green messages framed by egoistic (focus is on the self) and biospheric (focus is on the environment) concerns. Two ads were designed that elicited a moderate level of guilt related to egoistic (personal savings from bringing reusable bags) and biospheric (saving the environment by bringing reusable bags) concerns. Findings showed that egoistic concerns were more effective and that this effect was stronger for women than men.”

Professor Muralidharan believes that this research has managerial implications, saying that the UK government and green advertisers could change their messaging to appeal to egoistic values instead of emphasizing on the more typical environmental benefits.

“Guilt elicited by ads seems to motivate shoppers, especially women, to engage in pro-environmental behavior,” Professor Muralidharan said. “Using gender as a segmentation strategy, advertisers could elicit guilt by incorporating ownership messages in egoistic ads that credit shoppers for behaviors they have yet to begin (e.g., contributing to their personal savings by carrying reusable bags). For pro-environment attitudes and behavior to follow, advertisers should highlight egoistic solutions to the problem: benefits such as personal savings and positive emotions such as happiness. By doing so, advertisers will initiate coping mechanisms that allow consumers to mitigate emotional dissonance and encourage them to pursue pro-environment choices.”

Along with his research, Professor Muralidharan teaches four courses at SMU, including undergraduate (Survey of Advertising and Advertising, Society & Ethics), and graduate (Advertising as a Cultural Force and Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship) courses.

“Ethics lacks importance in both college curriculum and the advertising industry,” Professor Muralidharan said. “On reading past student evaluations, I can say that my greatest accomplishment is when our students at the end of the semester realize the value of ethics and social responsibility in advertising.”

Research is a passion of Professor Muralidharan’s. Although it can be very time consuming to be both a professor and a researcher, he uses his love for research as motivation to balance the two.

“I’ve been teaching at SMU since 2012 and will complete five years by end of this semester,” Professor Muralidharan said. “I try to give equal importance to both teaching and research and being organized and strategic can help maintain a healthy balance. For my balancing act, I begin with teaching first since it is more structured and has a schedule in place, while trying to weave in my research endeavors whenever there are no teaching periods in between. Though research is more malleable, I still organize my research projects for the year, including deadlines and target journals. This is imperative in order to achieve my annual research goals.”

Professor Muralidharan has three other publications forthcoming in both the Asian Journal of Communication and the Journal of Promotion Management. Working on so many research projects has taught him the proper equation for doing research as well as improving his patience.

“I always try to work on research projects that explore advertising’s ability to help mitigate social and environmental issues,” Professor Muralidharan said. “During my tenure as a researcher, I have been fortunate enough to work with accomplished researchers and through collaborations I was able to learn new research methods and statistical analyses while at the same time improved my skills as a storyteller. A strong narrative and appropriate method/analysis go hand-in-hand and both are equally important to a study’s publication success. The multiple research projects I have worked on over the years have taught me a major lesson, which is patience. It can take months for a study to transform from an idea to having it published in a journal but the key is to view the journey as a marathon and not a 100-meter dash.”

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TAI Graduate Student Lauren Lombardo Interning with Dallas Zoo

All students want to have a unique internship experience that they can brag about and proudly place on their resumes. An internship that sets you apart and is out of the ordinary. This semester, TAI graduate student Lauren Lombardo is doing just that while completing her Executive Internship at the Dallas Zoo.

Lombardo inside the Dallas Zoo.

Lombardo is working one of few indoor jobs at the zoo as the Communications and Marketing Intern. Her job responsibilities include writing editorial content, writing features for the blog, and participating in social media efforts.

“I’ve learned a lot about taking on different voices and writing for different audiences,” Lombardo said. “I create content for a variety of outlets at the Zoo, and each one needs to be tailored specifically for that outlet. I’ve also learned to be a better interviewer. A lot of the content I write is dependent on what I can get out of people, and my supervisors have shown me how to ask more robust questions in order to dig a little deeper.”

While this internship shares similar responsibilities to that of many other marketing internships, Lombardo’s position at the Dallas Zoo offers her unique experience working for a very different type of brand than typically taught in advertising courses.

“A typical day at the Zoo is probably a little different than most of other internships,” Lombardo said. “Usually, I come in to the administration office and check e-mail, respond to inquiries, and catch up with my supervisors as they’ll often assign me special projects to work on. I might write a blog post, which involves calling and interviewing a keeper or possibly going to an event. I usually try to draft an engaging social media post to go along with a blog. Every Zoo employee has a radio, so we’ll often receive radio calls about important events, like an elephant introduction, and head over to watch it during the workday. Other times, there might be a behind the scenes tour for interns that I’ll go to. I like to eat my lunch by the Sumatran Tigers or on Cat Green by the native Texas cats and walk around the Zoo. I usually finish up my day by working on the member newsletter, which means I have to contact the different Zoo departments to get the latest scoop on what they’re doing. Overall, a typical day is full of lots of writing and animals!”

Sumatran Tiger in the Dallas Zoo.

Lombardo’s love for animals and conservation has made her experiences at the Zoo incredibly special for her. Since she gets to spend a lot of time around the Zoo, she has seen several special events and exciting moments.

“My favorite moment from the internship has been attending the Zoo’s Cheetah Encounter,” Lombardo said. “As an intern, I was allowed to watch the Encounter from a VIP viewing area, so I was up close and personal for the whole experience. Winspear, the Zoo’s cheetah, took off running from one end of the exhibit to the other, and it was so amazing to see this athletic animal in action. I could even hear him purr at one point! Winspear also has a canine friend named Amani, who helps keep him calm [because] cheetahs are naturally nervous animals. The keepers took the time to talk with me about cheetah conservation and tell me more about the relationship between Winspear and Amani. Conservation is extremely important to me, especially when it comes to big cats (big cats are my favorite animals), so this was an extremely insightful and fun event. I often attend events like this and write blogs or social media posts about the experience.”

Lombardo got her undergraduate degrees in English and Geography from the University of Texas, and is now getting her Masters in Advertising from SMU. Her internship with Dallas Zoo provides her a perfect opportunity to combine her interests.

“The internship speaks to my two very specific areas of interest – writing and conservation,” Lombardo said. “My [undergraduate] Geography coursework specifically focused on sustainability. I never thought I would find an internship that incorporated these interests so well, but it’s made my time at the Zoo even more special and invaluable in terms of experience.”

In the future Lombardo hopes to work in the field of advertising and marketing as a professional copywriter.

“I would like to work for a either a non-profit or an agency that specializes in non-profit advertising and marketing,” Lombardo said. “My internship at the Zoo has provided me with direct experience in crafting copy for a non-profit and appealing to the members/donors that support the 501(c) community. I would also specifically like to work on campaigns that revolve around conservation and social responsibility, which is a major area of focus in the content I produce for the Zoo.”

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ExxonMobil Lecture Series: “Signs of Humanity” Screening

Tuesday, February 28, the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a public screening and Q&A of documentary “Signs of Humanity” at the Angelika Film Center as part of its 2017 ExxonMobil Lecture Series.

Professor Baronet talking to Jennifer and Jesse, a homeless couple in Seattle.

“Signs of Humanity” is a documentary film created by TAI Professor Willie Baronet. The film explores themes of home, homelessness, compassion and humanity as Professor Baronet and his team travel the country collecting over 200 homeless signs and interviewing over 100 people on the streets.

“The event on Tuesday evening really opened my eyes to the important work that Willie is doing, and how many people are willing to help him,” SMU student Dalya Romaner said. “The documentary was beautiful, and I feel that everyone watching it could connect to some aspect of it, whether it was one person he interviewed, or a reason for his project, or even a city he visited. Let’s just say, I now look up to Willie not only as a professor, but as a human being, and a change maker in a world desperately needing change.”

Each year TAI hosts lectures and events as part of the ExxonMobil Lecture Series. The series is one of many ways that TAI advocates its motto “Better Advertising. Better World.” This lectures series helps to promote advertising, media and corporate ethics by hosting events to discuss varying ethical topics that can be related to advertising.

Crowd at the screening event.

“We are so pleased to recognize the creative work of Professor Baronet,” Steven Edwards, Director of the Temerlin Advertising Institute, said. “Offering the public an opportunity to view ‘Signs of Humanity,’ recognize important supporters of the project, and create a space to spur on the conversation about homelessness is part of our larger mission to positively impact our community.”

Many TAI students, as well as faculty and local industry professionals, attended the event. The night started off with a reception and networking, followed by a brief recognition of documentary creator and producers, the screening of the film, and finally a Q&A with Professor Baronet and other producers of the documentary.

“Willie and his filmmakers did a great job of providing an open-minded glimpse into the world of homelessness nationwide,” Romaner said. “They didn’t come in with preconceived notions, they treated everyone as humans, not as homeless people, and it was beautiful to watch. I really feel that it gave everyone an idea of something small we can all do to help the homeless community around us, even as small as acknowledging that they are humans too. I think the most important takeaway from the film, the event, and Willie himself, is that we need to see everyone as people going through their own struggles, and it’s that commonality that gives us the chance to connect so the world is not made up of ‘us vs. them.’”

From left to right: Professor Baronet, Director Tim Chumley, Producer Judy Burch Gass, Producer Eamon Downey

Professor Baronet is doing important work to shine a light on homelessness. The event was an opportunity for the entire faculty and Professor Baronet’s students to celebrate what has been his two-year journey to film, edit, and showcase his project. This work has provided learning opportunities for students to reflect on the intersection of art, advertising, film-making, and creative expression in a persuasive context.

“I loved when Willie said in the film that the sign exhibit isn’t about him, it’s about the people he’s doing this for,” TAI alum Mallory Ashcraft said. “As a writer and former advertising student of Willie’s, I related to that inner dialogue, and I was so inspired by the fact that he tells the story of the homeless very honestly. I think everyone needs to see this film, because it showed me that we can all do more to emotionally support the homeless individuals in our communities and cities.”

“Signs of Humanity” is the product of a larger, ongoing art project, WE ARE ALL HOMELESS, which began when Willie purchased his first homeless sign in 1993. The project’s mission is to create a more compassionate world by creating awareness and provoking conversations about people on the streets, and inspiring others to find and implement solutions to the many causes of homelessness.

Learn more about WE ARE ALL HOMELESS and their Impact Campaign here.

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TAI Student Kelsi Jiang Shares Experience as Research Assistant in Psychology Lab

Research has always been the necessary backbone of many fields, including advertising. However, not everyone has the keen eye and skill required to be a successful researcher. TAI student Kelsi Jiang is a talented researcher in both the advertising and psychology fields.

Jiang is working on research studies within the Psychology department at SMU. She is working with Psychology Professor Michael Chmielewski and PhD student Rui Tang on several personality studies. She has various roles as a research assistant, including entering, managing and analyzing data, recruiting and contacting participants, and administering psychology tests to participants.

Jiang outside the SMU Psychology lab.

“Dr. Chmielewski’s lab focuses on personality studies, which covers psychopathology and normal-range personality with an emphasis on structure and assessment in both domains,” Jiang said. “Our current studies available for SMU Psychology students to participant in are: 1) Understanding personality through your cognitive ability. and 2) How college changes you over time.”

Her advertising classes have helped her to grow in her communication skills, which are very important for working in a research lab.

“As an international student, I used to avoid conversation and communication as much as possible,” Jiang said. “That can be a huge problem in research, and the difference between me and other research assistants who also [administered] tests to participants might become a reason for differences in the data. I would say all the advertising classes helped me develop my confidence in talking to people and polish up my communication skills.”

Jiang’s psychology research training also helped her in her advertising classes and in previous jobs.

My research experience helped a lot in finding information and sorting out what is meaningful to the question of interest,” Jiang said. “I think the biggest benefit is my ability to read patterns from data and summarize key takeaways.”

Jiang’s love for research has taken her down the path to two separate majors; however, advertising and psychology backgrounds can work together very well.

“In many ways psychology and advertising work together,” Jiang said. “I think the most obvious one is in the research area. Marketing research and consumer research is the foundation of creating a successful ad campaign. Being able to read the research data and understand the research process [allows] marketers to better reach their target audience. On another hand, consumer behavior studies actually have a lot overlap with different areas of psychology. Learning those related theories could be very helpful to understand how people think and act.”

Jiang has always had a passion for research, which began from simply planning travel schedules for her friends and family. From that point, her courses at SMU influenced her love for research even further.

“I was obsessed to search information online and figure out how to make the best plan, most efficient, most interesting at the best price,” Jiang said. “When I started to study psychology, I didn’t know much about research. The first time I learned about research was my Research Methods class [for Psychology] where I got to know different types of research and how amazing and clever a lot of studies were designed. I always knew I loved numbers. As the research methods class went into more details, I find data and statistics is also a very important part of research. That also increased my interest and motivated me to take a Statistics minor.”

After graduation Jiang hopes to find a job in the advertising and marketing industry. She wants to specialize in search engine optimization or research, where she can use both her psychology and advertising training.

“Many people think that research is boring, complicated and time consuming,” Jiang said. “However, when you are really into it, you can find a whole different world. Numbers are not just numbers anymore, they tell you more reliable information than your thought and imagination [can].”

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TAI Student Monica Gonzalez Starts Event Planning Company

Many college students dream of starting a business of their own. Get to be your own boss. Work on what you’re passionate about. It’s a student’s dream job. However, many aspiring entrepreneurs never achieve this goal because of the many challenges they may face along the way. TAI student Monica Gonzalez has achieved her dream by starting her own event planning company, D’LUXE Group.

Gonzalez gained experience creating relationships with restaurants, bars, and other vendors while working for UConnection, a recently launched app that provides college students with discounts for off campus dining. She used these connections and her networking ability as a starting block to create her event planning company.

“My experience with UConnection helped me penetrate into the restaurant/bar industry in Dallas,” Gonzalez said. “Based off of the relationships I created from my summer with UConnection, I was able to easily approach the business that I knew would be interested in partnering up with D’LUXE Group, if they had previously shown interest in the SMU market. I never fully understood the power of building relationships until now. These people I took the time to know have given me their unconditional support and would do anything in their power to see D’LUXE Group succeed.”

Monica Gonzalez and her partners Gabriel Gonzalez (left) and Jonathan Garay (right).

Since its inception in December 2016 D’LUXE has helped local sororities and fraternities plan events for their chapters, including SMU’s chapters of Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Theta, Pi Beta Phi, and Phi Delta. Gonzalez has had lots of help along the way, including her partners former SMU Cox student Jonathan Garay and current SMU Cox student Gabriel Gonzalez.

“The three of us have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to the development of our company,” Gonzalez said. “It is incredible to see how each one of us brings something different to the table. We complement each other in our personal strengths and weaknesses.”

Like any other new business, there have been challenges along the way. However, the rewards of creating a business surely outweigh the negatives.

“The most challenging part, like any other entrepreneur might say, is the unlimited hours and effort building a business takes,” Gonzalez said. “And it makes it even harder when you don’t see a profit right away. [However,] the awesome partnerships I’ve created and seeing my friends having the best time ever at the events D’LUXE Group has organized for them is very rewarding.”

Gonzalez has used her advertising education and skills to help her brand her company from scratch. She has also appreciated the help of TAI’s professors and faculty.

“My advertising courses have taught me how to brand a company from the ground up,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve learned the power of promotion and the platforms that should be used to maximize your media budget. I would like to thank TAI for their unconditional support and mentorship. They have always believed in me even when I did not. They are the reason I was brave enough to decline two internships and take a leap of faith in building D’LUXE Group.”

With so much support along the way, Gonzalez has been able to create a business that she is proud of and achieve her dream along the way.

“My career-driven dream and goal has always been to build a business I am passionate about,” Gonzalez said. “D’LUXE Group has not only given me the opportunity to start my own business, but has also gifted me with the privilege of doing what I love most: long-lasting relationships, event planning, and brand building.”

To contact D’LUXE Group, call (512) 563-4073 or email dluxegroupdallas@gmail.com

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TAI Student Paige Brown Will Graduate a Year Early

Many students enter college with no idea what they want to major or have a career in. This can put a lot of students behind when it comes to graduating on time. However, if you’re one of the lucky few who has a good idea of what you want to do then you might even be able to graduate early. TAI student Paige Brown will be graduating this May, an entire year earlier than expected, with an Advertising (Digital Media Strategy) major and a French minor.

Brown came into college undecided on a major. She only knew that she had strengths in English and the humanities, and did not want to pursue math and science.

“I briefly considered being a markets and cultures major,” Brown said. “I also contemplated applying to Cox Business School to study marketing, but decided against it. I did not want to spend money or time on learning a lot of general business prerequisites, such as accounting or economics, and only taking a handful of actual marketing classes. I chose advertising because it is a more specific, creative alternative without all of those excessive prerequisites.”

After deciding on advertising, Brown took the required courses and applied for the advertising program in the Spring semester of her freshman year. Once admitted into the major, TAI’s advertising program is designed to be completed in two years – four consecutive semesters. With good planning and foreword thinking, Brown was able to finish her requirements for graduation in three years.

“I was officially accepted into the school the summer before my sophomore year,” Brown said. “It is only a 2-year long program, so I knew I would be able to complete my major studies by 2017. After double-checking to make sure I could also fit in my French minor, University Honors Program, and general UC requirements I went into my academic advisor’s office and changed my graduation date. For other schools besides TAI, I may have needed to take J-term or summer courses to accomplish everything in time to graduate early but I was able to get everything completed in the fall and spring semesters. This was extremely helpful because I used winter and summer breaks to intern.”

Throughout her years in the advertising program, Brown has had the opportunity to connect closely with fellow advertising students as well as getting to know her professors on a more relatable level than most.

TAI Digital Media Strategy students

“My favorite part about the advertising program was the people,” Brown said. “The faculty members are so inspiring, and care deeply about your future. There were several instances when my professors shared job opportunities with me, set up interviews, wrote recommendation letters, nominated me for scholarships and awards, and encouraged me to apply for Ad Team. Not only did they do this, but they all took the extra step and continually followed up with me to ask how things were going or if they could do anything to help me. The peers in my digital advertising classes also became my friends as we spent hours with each other every day and bonded over group projects. The class sizes were small, you always felt engaged and present, and it was extremely motivating.”

Her advertising courses provided her with a strong skillset to succeed in previous internships, as well as her future endeavors.

“My advertising classes have prepared me by covering real life case studies, terminology, and know-how,” Brown said. “One of my favorite classes was about how to behave and communicate in an agency setting. All of the courses are very practical and can be easily applied to your career if you are going into digital advertising. There were countless times at my internship where someone would introduce an idea or task to me, and I would already be familiar with it because of prior class discussions and projects.”

This past summer and fall semester, Brown interned with digital marketing agency Wpromote, acting as both SEO & Social Intern and Client Success Intern.

Brown (left) and fellow intern Alex Perez in the office.

“My internship experience was incredibly relevant, and made me feel like I am ready to enter into my advertising career this upcoming May,” Brown said. “I was assigned real work, had a number of helpful mentors from various departments, and created and presented a full digital campaign to the VP and other agency leaders. I now have working experience with SEO, social media, paid search, content creation, and client services. I feel confident and well-equipped for my future in digital advertising.”

With internship experience and her advertising degree in hand, Brown is planning on starting a career in the advertising industry post-graduation.

“I’m leaning towards [working at] a full service digital agency because of my degree’s digital specialization and my previous internship and work experience,” Brown said. “Digital is what everyone is using now, and will continue to use for the foreseeable future, and it’s always changing. I love that advertising in the digital space is a valued expertise that challenges you to keep up and continue to learn.”

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