March 20, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 33°F

Life & Culture

IC students bring diversity to the advertising field

Each year, the American Advertising Federation recognizes a group of 50 talented and promising students from universities across the country as part of its Most Promising Multicultural Student Program. In the 2023 cohort, seniors Steven Howard and Li de Jong, both Integrated Marketing Communications majors, will represent Ithaca College in the 26th year of the program. 

According to the AAF website, the organization helps over 4,000 students in more than 140 colleges advance in their careers through networking and connecting them to the industry. Established in 1905, the AAF’s mission is to preserve and aid the prosperity of advertising. 

It is with this same spirit that this year’s judges Lanae Jackson, senior manager of Multicultural Marketing Strategy at Nissan; Muhammad AL-Kahlout, director of Digital Marketing of Cummings Creative Group; David Peña, early careers talent specialist for RPA; among many others, have chosen the best applicants to be a part of this immersive experience into the industry, de Jong said. 

De Jong, former vice president of the student chapter for the AAF and former Director of Publicity for ICTV, said she found her passion for the creative design side of advertising in her junior year after taking the Advertising Copywriting and Art Direction course. De Jong also did an art direction internship in Louisville over the summer through the Multicultural Advertising Interns Program with the 4A’s Foundation

“It’s like a whole week-long thing where we go to, like, immersions with advertising agencies,” de Jong said. “We speak of, like, hundreds of recruiters … and then at the end of it there’s this big career expo with, like, a bunch of recruiters and hiring agents all, like, wanting to speak with us.” 

The students will spend Feb. 13–16 in New York City with a thorough itinerary that includes activities like an exclusive MPS Recruiters Expo, where participants can go around and pitch themselves and even get a chance on an interview later during the afternoons; a “Building Bridges for Our Future” awards luncheon; and an industry immersion program, where they get the chance to work with some of the top advising agencies for a day.

One of the outcomes this program offers students is the merit linked with partaking in the MPMSP, boosting their chances of landing a job after graduation, according to the AAF Most Promising Multicultural Students webpage

De Jong said that after updating her LinkedIn profile with her acceptance to the program, she had dozens of recruiters reach out to her. The MPMSP program also helped Julia Batista ’22 get her current job as a junior strategist at R/GA.

De Jong said these sorts of experiences offer support to minorities who are pursuing careers in the advertising field, making their dreams seem more doable. According to Zippia, a platform with the mission to help provide the right tools to find career opportunities, from a database of 30 million profiles, 72% of the advertising managers are white, only 11.9% Latino, 7.6% Asian and 3.4% Black. 

Another aspect of the program is networking. Howard, who said he is looking to dive more into the production side of marketing, runs his own business called “Steve Jr Media.” He rented a small production company and signs creators from Ithaca College and Cornell University to do videography and photography services for small businesses, events, brands and influencers. For Howard, he said this is an opportunity to make connections with others that might be needed down the line. 

These opportunities are inspiring and motivating,” Howard said. “Because … when you go to these programs, you find out there’s a lot of people who are like you, so it makes you more competitive … because you realize … how you’re not just competing with your school, but you’re competing with the whole country.”

Both de Jong and Howard said they credit Scott Hamula, professor and chair of the Department of Strategic Communication and member of the AAF since 1999, for the opportunity. 

“I look forward to writing [recommendation] letters for Li and Steven,” Hamula said. “Every year I send [the MPMSP] out to seniors who are in the IMC program in some way because then you’ve somehow demonstrated some interest in the advertising field.” 

Hamula is the faculty advisor for the student chapter Park AdVenue, which meets at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays every semester, and the course advisor for Ithaca’s award-winning national student advertising competition team Ad Lab.

“This is an event to be on,” Hamula said. “Follow the schedule, be early to events. Be active listeners … and think of how it could apply to you and how you might get some feedback so raise your hand and participate.”

Hamula said that in order to make the most out of this experience, students must be on top of the schedule for the program, which is designed to be engaging, allow students to show off their interest in the field and take advantage of all the resources that will be offered in the events, something Howard said he agrees with.

“This is a really good opportunity to be proactive in [my] journey for what’s next and not necessarily like you know, waiting for life to come to me,” Howard said. “But being proactive and going and getting it, and so, you know, kind of throwing myself some, putting myself out there in that environment is sometimes, you know, difficult, but it’s necessary in order to, you know, be able to succeed.”