Advice to College Students

Recently had a great time helping lecture my friend Mike Allen’s JOMC 271 (Advertising: Copywriting) course:

I had a few main points that I made to the students. Would love some feedback on whether you agree or disagree with my recommendations :)

1. Figure out your brand
Everyone is their very own brand – make sure you figure out what you want to be known for, how you want to brand yourself, and if you’re going with your full name/a professional name: make sure you reserve it on every platform you can find! And a great tip I heard once from Gregory Ng: keep your avatar consist across the different networks you participate in online. I don’t follow this rule very well but it is a good thing to keep in mind.

2. Get on LinkedIn
It’s there. It’s free. Everyone’s doin’ it. And it’s so much easier than updating a resume every few months. When I’m looking up interns or people to hire, the first thing I look for on LinkedIn is recommendations. What are other people willing to say about you? They’re putting their reputation on the line by vouching for you. It’s not always enough to just slap your resume on the site. Make good use of the other features LinkedIn offers too!

3. Network
See my previous post: networking is critical to success in any career. Most people don’t get jobs in their career by applying through a site or something like that…no, most people are either referred by friends or find out through connections about different opportunities. I got my current full-time job at Shoeboxed through a connection of a connection of a connection. I was introduced to my sensei Ben Fisher through my friend Liz Hundley (now Liz Wile), who I shadowed for a day to figure out if I wanted to go to UNC. Ben randomly introduced me to Zaid Farooqui later on during my three years at UNC. Then Zaid introduced me years later to Chris Heivly who introduced me to my new job at Shoeboxed completely out of the blue. You never know what will come from networking. And guess what, college students: your peers are there for you to network with too. Don’t ever forget that! Those are some of the best connections you can have once you enter the real world.

4. Using a network personally is different from using it for marketing purposes
Don’t assume that because you have over 1,000 friends on Facebook that you will be great at utilizing Facebook as a marketing tool. Running a Facebook ad campaign is much different than writing a Note to everyone about that latest weird dream you had. Just keep that in mind.

5. Just do it
Yeah, yeah. Cliche. But it’s the biggest piece of advice given to me throughout my time as an advertising major at UNC: you better talk the talk and walk the walk if you’re going to go into something as a career. If you want to do advertising, make up ads for fun in your free time. If you want to develop games, learn on the free systems and make your own game. It comes up time and time again in all sorts of industries. Who’s going to hire a person to do their social media marketing that doesn’t have an account on Twitter these days? Not saying that Twitter is the end-all, be-all to social media marketing but if you don’t at least have an account in your name and a small presence, it doesn’t seem like you really know the platform in the least.

What do you think?


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