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Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Q&A: Senior named one of the ‘Most Promising Multicultural Students’

Senior+Amirah+Torrence+was+recently+named+one+of+the+American+Advertising+Associations+Most+Promising+Multicultural+Students.
Kaeleigh Banda
Senior Amirah Torrence was recently named one of the American Advertising Association’s “Most Promising Multicultural Students.”

Senior Amirah Torrence, an integrated marketing communications major, has been named one of the “Most Promising Multicultural Students” by the American Advertising Federation.

The award is given to 50 students nationwide. In celebration of this award, the honored students came together for a four-day workshop in NYC from Feb. 4–9. At the workshop, students heard from advertising agencies and companies from around the globe and had the chance to network with junior and senior level advertising professionals. 

Torrence has made significant strides in the advertising industry during her time at Ithaca College thus far. In addition to participating in the IC Real Estate Club and attending Student Leadership Institute (SLI) meetings, Torrence has interned with global marketing agency McCann and advertising group The Advertising Club of New York. 

Staff writer Georgie Gassaro spoke with Torrence to discuss her recent experience in New York City, her passion for diversity, equity and inclusion in the advertising industry and her plans to continue preparing for a fulfilling career in advertising post-college. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. 

GG: What kind of expectations, if any, did you have going into the process of interacting with brands and agencies such as TikTok, LinkedIn and SONY during the workshop in New York City

AT: It was really cool. Being able to walk into one of TikTok’s main headquarters buildings and really hear from the people that work there and what their career journey was and what TikTok represents as an organization was really impactful. Listening to people from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) because at all of the organizations and ad agencies that we went to, people from DEI shared their story and shared how they feel they are making an impact within their agency. It was nice to hear about the different projects that they’re working on. I’ve been to different workshops before and I thought it was kind of going to be a panel session at every event, but it wasn’t. It was a space where if there were panel sessions where people talked about their journey, they also had Q&As back and forth. It felt more like an open environment for you to be yourself and to really dive deep and get to know people because these people are junior and seniorlevel professionals. So [the workshop] gave me the opportunity to talk to them and make connections.

GG: Were there specific companies or brand representatives that you spoke to or interacted with that stood out most? 

AT: I would say [Foote, Cone & Belding]. They are an advertising agency that did a presentation on a campaign that they worked on, and it was highlighting Black and Hispanic men and the importance of mental health. There’s this concept within the Black and Hispanic community that men should not show emotion, that they should be macho and manly and strong. So that campaign really stood out to me because it highlighted that if you are somebody that’s in need, or you’re struggling with mental health, to go seek out social workers or psychologists. I thought it was really important and impactful because not all [campaigns] have an impact in such a positive way, and that is something that I feel strongly about. It was great to see how the organization came together with DEI to come up with that campaign.

GG: What were some of the most impactful lessons you took away from the workshop in regard to pursuing a career in the media industry? 

AT: I feel like the most impactful thing that I learned was definitely networking. That was something that was really highlighted heavily because it’s not always what you know, but who you know. So if you can bring what you know to the table, as well as the connections that you make with people, whether that’s texting them on LinkedIn, reaching out to them to say “Hi, I would like to have a coffee session” or something like that and just talk about the different projects that you’ve worked on and some of your passion points, and just be able to connect and network with them. [Another lesson is] to be passionate about other things. I think a lot of the time people are so focused on one thing and then they kind of lose their creative aspect or some of the things that they find interesting. Like, if you like to work out, go to the gym. If you like to crochet, do that. If you like to bake, do that. Bringing those ideas and concepts to the field, even though they’re not related to advertising, could make you more well-rounded, and I think help in the industry.

GG: How did Ithaca College and the Park School prepare you for the professional networking aspect of the workshop? 

AT: It has prepared me well. Being able to have the background of so many different aspects with public relations, advertising, marketing, the business side analytics. All of that has made me more of a well-rounded individual compared to someone just studying advertising or just studying communications. I get to see the industry from all different views. And then my professor and advisor, Scott Hamula, always reaches out to me and tells me about different events. [Attending those events] gave me a chance to practice my networking skills, and going to events to welcome new students also gives me a chance to practice speaking out about my own opportunities that I’ve had [at Ithaca College] and how they’ve helped me. And the internships that I’ve gotten through my professor telling me about them gave me a chance to work on my interviewing skills to become a better interviewee.

GG: How do you envision yourself implementing what you learned at the workshop into your remaining time on campus? 

AT: For me, bringing change and having an impact is something that’s really important. And that’s something that was really highlighted within the MPMS workshop and program. I’m an MLK scholar too. So doing more research on social injustices that are happening and kind of bringing my passion for social justice and marketing and advertising to the table and combining them to make an impact on campus.

GG: What are your next steps in terms of continuing to gain experience in the media industry and build meaningful connections to set yourself up for a rewarding career? 

AT: Now I’m in [an] IMC Lab. Every IMC major has to take a lab at their senior level or their senior year. So I’m working with an organization now; they’re a small startup and that experience has given me a chance to work on different aspects of the industry,  whether that be strategy, creative, copywriting or digital marketing. It has given me a chance to work in all of those different aspects. After college, I want to work full time. My interests are in a few different things, mostly account management, and diversity, equity and inclusion. So I’m seeking out different internships that hopefully can turn into full-time careers, or just going straight into full time in account management and getting my foot in the door so that I could learn more about the industry and navigate my way into positions in diversity, equity and inclusion. 

GG: What would you say to any students who are looking to set themselves apart in the field of communications and media? 

AT: Ask questions. Never be afraid to ask questions. If you feel like you’re struggling in something, go to your professors’ office hours, make friends in your class, reach out for help, because at the end of the day, you’re the one that’s going to be working your way up in the industry and it’s important to have a better understanding of the material that you’re learning. Also, get internships. Apply, apply, apply. And when you get that internship, you get experience in what it’s like to work in the advertising industry and see what other pathways there are to go down, because that’s how I found out about account management. Before doing my internship at McCann, I hadn’t known about the many different paths that you can go on, whether that’s strategy, creative, HR, there are so many different avenues that you can take. So definitely getting your foot in the door, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

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Kaeleigh Banda
Kaeleigh Banda, Assistant Photo Editor
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