Many people aspire to start a blog, but many are unsuccessful when it comes to turning that blog into a profitable outlet. TAI student Emma Clayton has been running her own blog, Dash of Serendipity, for over five years. She has even been able to make a profit off of her blog through affiliate links and sponsors.
In the beginning, Clayton had no intention of starting a blog, but as she gained a large following she decided to start an official blog, which is a combination of fashion, beauty, and just life in general.
“Back in 2012 I created a Tumblr account, just as all my friends were,” Clayton said. “Slowly I started posting photos of my outfits and gained a pretty large following through that. Eventually I realized I wanted to have the opportunity to write more in-depth posts and moved my blog to a platform more suited for blogging. My first Tumblr username was ‘sweetest-serendipityyy,’ after the Lee DeWyze song ‘Sweet Serendipity.’ As my blog was getting bigger I realized that [it] might not be the most professional name, so I came up with ‘Dash of Serendipity.’”
While running a blog sounds like fun and games, there can be many challenges that arise along the way, especially for a student who is also managing school and extracurriculars.
“This year trying to juggle the work from my classes and everything else I’m involved in on top of my blog has been difficult,” Clayton said. “I am the Director of Communications at SMU Relay for Life and the Vice President of Public Relations in my sorority, which are both positions that demand a lot of my time. I definitely haven’t posted on my blog as frequently as I would have liked to this year, but that serves as motivation to keep trying to become a better time manager and planner.”
Clayton’s interest in fashion and running a blog led her to major in Advertising with a specialization in Digital Media Strategy and minor in Fashion Media and Graphic Design. With this combination, Clayton is learning all the right skills to continue running her blog for a long time.
“One of the reasons I was interested in pursuing the Digital Media track in Advertising was because of my blog,” Clayton said. “After a few years of having my blog I realized that I was organically teaching myself how to advertise in the digital space as I was promoting and sharing my blog content across many platforms. Now, I see myself using and solidifying the ideas and strategies I’m learning in my classes on my blog almost immediately after learning them.”
Some of the strategies Clayton is learning in her Digital Media Strategy courses include SEO and using Google Analytics to boost her blog on the web.
“Most recently, I’ve been able to use a lot of the skills I learned in my Media, Metrics and Measurements class to more fully understand Google Analytics,” Clayton said. “I’ve been using Google Analytics on my blog for a few years, but was very unfamiliar with the information I was generating. Now, I feel like I have a more solid understanding of the platform.”
Clayton’s favorite part about having a blog is having a place to channel her creativity, and she hopes to continue her blog as long as she can.
“There are times where school gets more busy and difficult where I have to put my blog on the back burner,” Clayton said. “I always realize during these times that I feel like I’m lacking something. Having my blog to put all of my creative energy into is really great.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
Wednesday, December 7, TAI hosted a Portfolio Night & Exhibition to display the work of creative advertising majors in both Concepting and Advanced Portfolio classes. The event was held in SMU’s Owen Arts Center and was attended by over 100 people. The night started off with an opening reception and exhibition viewing followed by a portfolio review.
During the portfolio review, DFW-area industry professionals from over 15 agencies reviewed the students’ creative work. Industry reviewers at the event included Amanda Fowler, The Richards Group; Randall Kenworthy, TM; Gus Granger, 70kft; Jason Shipp, Moroch; Kevin Sutton, Moroch; Matt Lindner, Moroch; Zack Ward, Johnson & Sekin; Kent Johnson, Johnson & Sekin; David Wilgus, The Launch Agency; Anna Lee Doughtie, TracyLocke; Arturo Lee, Dieste; Jose Benitez, Dieste; Raul Mendez, Dieste; Greg Hunter, Firehouse; Michelle Sensale, The Richards Group; Abraham Campillo, The Richards Group; Rob Wilson, Illustrator / Designer; Alan Lidji, Lidji Design Office; Keisha Whaley, LDWWgroup; Jim Sykora, Willow St. Agency; Larry Johannes, Willow St. Agency; Mallory Massa, 3 Headed Monster; Blake Cleavenger, 3 Headed Monster; Travis Hanson, 3 Headed Monster; Ken Koester, KoesterDesign; Ky Lewis, Infinite Agency; Jordan Spencer, Infinite Agency.
“The most common thing I heard from our reviewers over the course of the night was that the work was really strong and only seemed to be getting better and better,” TAI Lecturer and Creative Professor Mark Allen said. “After seeing the work in the exhibition and the portfolio review, I had several agencies ask for recommendations for internships and full-time creative positions. My favorite thing about the whole event is getting to watch the faces of my students light up as they finally get to see their work displayed in an art gallery full of creative professionals who are visibly impressed with what’s on the wall—this is the moment when they understand why I push them so hard; why all the late nights and the seemingly endless rounds of changes are worth it.”
Several of the reviewers were also SMU and TAI alums, which provides students with a familiar perspective and encouragement about where they could be in the future. It also serves as a special experience for the alums themselves.
“Getting a chance to sit on the other side of the SMU portfolio review was quite an experience,” TAI alum and Art Director at Dieste Arturo Lee (MA ’14) said. “Seems like it was only yesterday I was having my book evaluated. The only thing that has changed since then is the level of talent, which [has] gone up exponentially. Can’t wait to see what next semester’s students are able to come up with.”
At the end of the night, Stan Richards Professor in Creative Advertising, Willie Baronet, and Mark Allen presented awards to students who had particularly positive reviews and creative work. The student awards include:
Best Concept – Tiffany Giraudon & Caroline Moss, Bumble
Best Art Direction – Helen Rieger & Tiffany Giraudon, Hypnotic Donuts (campaign) and Morgan Hoff & Caroline Moss, Converse Chuck II Poster (single)
Best Copywriting – Nicki Fletcher & Jennifer Nelson, Lotrimin
Best Graphic Design (TIE) – Sam Butz (Cookie Cottage, Zero Gravity and personal branding projects) and Tanner Thompson (Hotel California and NASA Interplanetary Missions posters)
Best Video/Commercial – Tanner Thompson & Sofie Rosell, Anonymous
Best Digital/Non-traditional – Laura Walsh & Christina Skertchly, 1-800-GOT-JUNK App
Best Overall – Tanner Thompson & Morgan Hoff, Dallas Grilled Cheese, Co.
“It was really rewarding to see all of the student’s hard work being shown off at Portfolio Night,” TAI creative advertising student Morgan Hoff said. “I couldn’t believe how many people came to see our work! It was also a great way to show my friends and family what I’m passionate about. The feedback I received from industry professionals was really valuable too, because it helps me improve my work and helps me understand what agencies are looking for when they are reviewing portfolios. Overall, it was a really exciting event.”
Recent TAI graduate Marissa Lopez (’16) is now working as a Junior Art Director at BBDO in New York. Lopez has quite an impressive resume, participating in both the NSAC Ad Team and AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Student (MPMS) program along with a variety of internships during her undergraduate career. Every unique experience that she had in college prepared her for the career she has now.
Lopez took advantage of all the internship opportunities she could. She had three advertising internships during her college career, at both large and small advertising agencies and directly for a brand. Working for such different companies allowed Lopez to get an idea of her ideal workplace.
“The summer before my Senior year was when I had my first advertising agency experience,” Lopez said. “I was an art director intern at Dieste, a multicultural advertising agency located in Dallas. I had the opportunity to work on Cricket Wireless, LaLa Yogurt, and AT&T accounts. When I returned to school in the fall I started an internship at Southwest Airlines as a digital marketing and design intern. I took this opportunity because I was interested in seeing the difference between advertising at an agency versus in-house. At Southwest I got to focus on how print translates into the digital sphere and website design. In the Spring of my senior year I worked at a smaller, boutique agency called Willow St. located in Deep Ellum. It was a great experience and I learned so much. The perk of a small agency at an intern level is the one-on-one time you get with industry professionals. During my time at Willow St. I designed packaging, a website and was constantly producing social media content for various brands. I think working at a smaller agency while still in college helped me to really focus in on my graphic design skills.”
All of these internship opportunities taught her some very important lessons that helped prepare her for her job today. While each taught her different skills and lessons, she took away several pieces of advice that can be applied to all internship experiences.
“Some of the most important things my internships taught me were how important work environment/company culture is, time management, and how to successfully handle direction and criticism,” Lopez said. “Once you set foot in the advertising industry you’ll be quick to notice that no one is going to hold your hand. It’s sink or swim, and you have to self-motivate and even fake it till you make it at times. The sooner you can get exposed to that, the better.”
Along with internships, Lopez had the opportunity to be a member of SMU’s NSAC Ad Team. She served as both a creative and a presenter on the team, giving her first hand experience in campaign design and pitching a campaign.
“My experience on the NSAC Ad Team was one of the most rewarding,” Lopez said. “At the end of the day, you have to be able to work with people regardless of what you do or where you’re working. Being able to be a ‘team-player’ is so cliché but it’s the truth. You want people to want to work with you. It’s how you get your hands on the best accounts and work. Ad Team is the closest experience you get to what working on a campaign at a professional level is like, and I’m so lucky to have gotten that exposure. I walked away with so much more confidence as a presenter, and also with a greater understanding of how important it is to put egos aside, be flexible and successfully work with others.”
Once starting her job at BBDO, Lopez quickly learned that while the campaigns she worked on in school have the same elements as campaigns at work, they also differ in many ways.
“In college when you’re working on campaigns for class or Ad Team, you have more creative freedom than you probably ever will again,” Lopez said. “Take advantage of that. The campaigns I’ve worked on at BBDO have a lot in common to Ad Team; there’s a brief, a target, a budget, a team you work with, and some type of deliverables. The biggest difference is the turnaround is not a few months, but instead a week, maybe if you’re lucky two.”
While all of the previous experiences helped her gain skills and lessons for working at an advertising agency, Lopez attributes her current job to AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Student program.
“MPMS is what got my foot in the door at BBDO,” Lopez said. “It was an extremely rewarding experience, and I was very honored to be given the award. It was so refreshing to see how diversity plays a role in the industry and how it is becoming such a large part of it. I was very fortunate to meet a BBDO recruiter that saw my potential at the awards program. Exposure and networking is so crucial. Take advantage of every opportunity, contest, award show etc. You never know who you will meet.”
After graduation, Lopez moved to New York to start her internship with BBDO. Soon after, she knew that she wanted to work there full-time, so she worked extremely hard to prove that she deserved the position.
“The internship was a wonderful experience, and I fell in love with the BBDO company culture and everyone I was working with,” Lopez said. “All of the creatives and the creative work I was surrounded by was extremely inspiring and I knew right away that I wanted to stay past summer and get hired on full-time. I did anything and everything over the course of the summer to prove that I deserved to stay. I worked late hours, weekends, and said ‘yes’ to every opportunity. After 5 months of interning, I was offered a full-time position as a Junior Art Director on the PepsiCo account and have been hard at work ever since.”
Lopez has used the skills she learned in her advertising and graphic design courses at SMU to achieve the success she has today.
“So much of what I learned in my advertising classes at SMU have translated and helped me in my job now,” Lopez said. “Being able to share and talk about your work is probably the most important one. You have to be able to believe in your ideas and get others to as well. At BBDO there are many people your work has to go through before it actually reaches the client, so you’ve got to be able to pitch and talk about it with confidence. All of the Graphic Design and Portfolio classes that required me to present and create presentations to show my work have all helped me so much today.”
Throughout her experiences, Lopez learned the importance of networking and being able to set yourself apart from others. She hopes that her advice can help current students achieve their goals as well.
“Network and meet as many people in the industry as you can,” Lopez said. “Most people are willing to help and share advice. Also, find a strength that sets you apart from others. It doesn’t even have to be a skill; maybe it’s a personality trait. Everyone is talented and creative, but find that passion or trait that’s unique to you and showcase it in your work, portfolio, or resume. People like to see passion. Also, just be nice. Working hard and being kind and genuine will actually get you places!”
TAI Alum (’11) Jenny Lanier has had a very successful career since her graduation from SMU. In her three years as an Art Director at Moroch, Lanier accomplished a lot, working with clients like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Mattress Giant. Recently, Lanier was featured in the 2016 Communications Arts Advertising Annual.
“I was featured in the Communications Arts Advertising Annual for a billboard for McDonald’s,” Lanier said. “The assignment was to push $1 beverages in markets during the summer. Our client wanted something more special. My team and I thought it would be interesting to have a temperature gauge on the billboard to say that each degree of heat is just another reason to grab a drink at McDonald’s.”
To be featured in the Communications Arts Advertising Annual is a very special honor for former advertising students. TAI Creative Advertising Professor Mark Allen, also Lanier’s former professor, refers to it as “the golden ring” for creatives.
“It’s special [to me] because it was a publication I frequently referred to as a student,” Lanier said. “CA Annuals were required books for all of our advertising classes. I remember we would go through and flag the campaigns that resonated with us – ones that we wish we had thought of. To think a student might do that with the project I worked on makes me smile.”
This year, Lanier and her team at Moroch won a gold ADDY in the OOH & Ambient category for their McDonald’s “Refresh” campaign. Lanier also won a silver ADDY in 2014 for an Interactive Web Banner for McDonald’s called “Up and At ‘Em.”
“Everyone loves to be told ‘good job,’ especially when you work really hard,” Lanier said. “These awards are just a little pat on the back that let you know you’re on the right track. I was always proud of my peers for getting published or winning awards. It feels good to experience those honors firsthand.”
Lanier attributes a lot of her career success to her time in the creative department at TAI, from the student and faculty connections she made to the practical skills she carried into her career.
“I felt incredibly lucky to be under the tutelage of two amazing professors in the creative department: Mark Allen and Glenn Griffin,” Lanier said. “To say they changed my life is an understatement. When I was in the program, they inspired all of us to want to be great while empowering us to get there ourselves. More practically speaking, the rigor of the program helped prepare me to meet deadlines and practice professionalism with my clients. I also met many talented students who have remained very close friends. Having a tight network of alums is invaluable.”
Currently, Lanier is pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. She’s recently accepted an offer to be a Software Designer at IBM in Austin, which she will be starting next summer.
“It’s an exciting time to work in technology,” Lanier said. “I’m eager for all of the opportunities that await me at IBM. My goals for my career have always been to keep learning, work hard, and be proud of myself at the end of each day. I do see myself teaching somewhere down the line. I remember SMU and SCAD professors who made a huge impact on my life. Having a positive influence on other potential students would be extremely gratifying.”
Throughout her undergraduate, graduate, and career experiences, Lanier has learned valuable lessons that she hopes to impart on people who are in the same position she was once in.
“To the creative track students: take advantage of being in Professor Allen’s class,” Lanier said. “It is rare to find someone who not only cares about your academic development, but also cares about you as an individual. Professor Allen is brilliant and I felt like I became smarter just by breathing the same air as he did! So listen to him. To everyone [all students]: Make good connections with both your classmates and professors. Perform in ways that make people want to be on your team. I think you can get a lot of opportunities by being a kind, honest, and hardworking person. Employers will invest in your education and training if they want to work with you.”
For anyone, student or not, looking for a job or trying to establish a name for themselves, Lanier suggests using social media to help build your personal brand.
“On a more tangible level, use your social media presence as a way to show your personality,” Lanier said. “People will comb the depths of the Internet to look you up, so make sure what you say reflects you accurately. If you love photography, showcase your talents on Instagram. If you fancy yourself a comedian, fill your Twitter with shareable one-liners. There are a lot of ways you can convey your personality online, so take advantage of what’s most appropriate for you. An interviewer once brought up one of my Tweets in a meeting because he thought it was really funny. It sounds silly, but it isn’t. Take your personal brand seriously because you always have an audience.”
Many advertising students dream of working in Chicago or New York City, but competition is fierce and many never get the opportunity. This summer TAI Creative Advertising student Idara Akpan took the chance and applied to work in New York City as an intern for Razorfish Health, part of the Publicis Health network.
Akpan applied online, and was then asked to conduct a video interview. The company sent her questions, and she answered them in a short video. She then went through two rounds of phone interviews, including a final interview with the Senior Creative Director.
Working as a copywriting intern, Akpan had the opportunity to participate hands-on on several client projects.
“I created taglines, concepts, and ideas for the Purdue [Pharma] franchise,” Akpan said. “I created guidelines to help with consistency between brands in the Purdue franchise, created and concepted Razorfish Health in-house promotion, and participated in a Publicis Health internship-wide project to create a campaign, Apple Watch app, and phone app for a seasonal allergy OTC product.”
A typical day on the job included a status meeting regarding all the clients, in which people from the account, strategy, tech, and creative departments would all give updates. Then Akpan would check in with her manager to start working on taglines, brainstorm, or produce copy for the Purdue franchise websites.
“I mostly worked with the creative team, both art directors and other writers,” Akpan said. “I also worked with other interns around the Publicis Healthcare Group Communications network. My favorite memory was staying late for a brainstorming session. It was great to be swapping different ideas next to the Group Creative Director!”
Brainstorming became a big part of Akpan’s internship, and she attributes her brainstorming skills to her advertising classes.
“[The biggest skill that I had going into the internship was knowing how to] brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm!” Akpan said. “No idea is a bad idea. Put everything – and I mean everything – on the table.”
Her internship also provided a glimpse into what a career in creative advertising is like.
“The internship gave me a better insight on a different side of the industry,” Akpan said. “It was awesome to be in NYC and truly see how each of the departments work together to reach their goal. It also showed me how competitive it is to be a creative in NYC! There are so many creatives, you have to work extra hard to stand out.”
The National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team from SMU competed in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 10 regional competition in Austin, Texas on April 17. They placed fourth overall and took home the Best Promotional Strategy trophy in what turned out to be a pressure filled, highly competitive event. The SMU NASC team, taught by Brice Campbell, Executive-in-Residence, and Willie Baronet, Visiting Executive-in-Residence, has been hard at work since the beginning of the Spring 2014 semester when they began doing preliminary research and strategy development for Mary Kay, this year’s national client. Using the tagline #RETHINKPINK, the team created a cohesive and memorable campaign designed to change the perception of Mary Kay among young women 18-25 years old. Students focused their efforts in Account Management, Account Planning, Traditional and Social Media, Research, Promotions, Public, and Creative (including casting and photographing the women featured in the ads), producing a comprehensive campaign executed solely by them.
Willie Baronet reflected on the experience, stating, “as a first time faculty in this competition I was overwhelmed by the amount of work required of the students. And impressed by the opportunities they had to present in front of industry leaders, as well as members of the Mary Kay marketing team.” All members of the 2014 SMU NSAC team are pursuing a BA in Advertising from the Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI). Advertising majors are required to complete ADV 4399 Advertising Campaigns as part of their curriculum. This class combines major advertising theories with practice, allowing students to develop and present an advertising campaign to a real client based on current advertising challenges that the client is facing. Students that take Advertising Campaigns during the Spring semester have the opportunity to participate in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). Recent NSAC clients include Glidden Paint (2013) and JCPenney (2012).
Please join the Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI) in congratulating this year’s SMU NSAC team on their outstanding work and accomplishments!
Members of the 2014 SMU NSAC team are: (Students) Amelia Ambrose, Katie Bernet, Anne-Marie Clegg, Rachel Delesk, Andrew Fennessy, Kelly Gilliland, Elizabeth Glander, Lauren Goddard, John Ross Gramentine, Ashley Gross, Emily Jedlicka, Hillary Johnson, Jaimmy Koroma, Bernabe Maldonado, Alexandra Nowlin, Margot O’Daniel, Morgan O’Hare, Mary Olson, Ari Passy, Morgan Saxer, Dustin Weil, (and Faculty) Brice Campbell, Executive-in-Residence, and Willie Baronet, Visiting Executive-in-Residence.
Dev Gupta teaches creative advertising art direction and copywriting, and will be talking about how design isn’t the same thing as art. According to Gupta, “Most people think because you can draw you can design a logo or website, when in fact art and design sit on opposite ends of the same spectrum.”
This week’s TEDxSMU weekly talk will be on Thursday, February 27th at 5pm in Greer Garson Room 3531. All members of SMU and Dallas communities are invited to participate! For more information on the event, please visit their Facebook page.