6. How to Stand Out In Advertising: An Interview with Maria Scileppi

One of the many, many things I love about my Creative Strategist class is that we have the ability to listen to some incredibly insightful professionals. I feel very fortunate that I get the opportunity to witness profound lectures, and even more thankful that these speakers are generous enough to go out of their way to help students.

A few weeks ago, our class heard Maria Scileppi talk about the secret to getting a job in advertising. For six years, Maria was an art director at Y&R, and she is now the Director of the Chicago Portfolio School. When she first moved to Chicago, she started a social experiment called People Scape, where she made a new friend every single day for a year. Currently, she is working on a data visualization project.

After her lecture, I was very inspired to write a blog post on what she had mentioned in her keynote. The industry can be very intimidating for us youngin’ folk (and that’s an understatement). Sometimes I feel like a terrified Bambi running amuck while the entire forrest is on fire, and I can’t find my mother (spoiler alert if you have never seen the movie…Sorry). As someone who did not initially know much about the industry, I found Maria’s presentation very informative and I wanted to follow up with her on the subject.

I had the extreme honor and pleasure of speaking with Maria over the phone about how students can stand out in the industry, and what steps they should take to become successful in advertising. At first, I planned to write a blog post summarizing our conversation. However, after speaking with her I felt that my mere words would not do her justice. Luckily, she let me record our conversation and so I decided to make our conversation into a “podcast” style blog post.

Here are some of my key takeaways from our conversation:

  • Be Yourself. Personality matters, and at the end of the day it’s all about connecting with people. You can only connect with people on a personal level, so never feel afraid to be yourself. For me, this is the hardest thing to fulfill. I struggle with this because I always learned that if I speak with a professional, I must metaphorically straighten up my tie (the metaphor being that I don’t wear ties, but I bet you caught onto that). Instead, I need to focus on just being myself. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but Maria is right — it is the only way that people will be able to connect with you.
  • Be Passionate. Geek out about something; your passion is what makes you interesting.
  • Practice the Art of Listening. You learn about yourself through others. Everyone has a story, and they want to share it. Don’t be afraid to talk to people; you never know what knowledge you may find.
  • Give them a point of entry. People look for a way to connect with you — make it easy. You can bond with people on a personal level by finding common ground.
  • Never Stop Creating. Personal projects are key to defining your individuality and uniqueness. Your projects can become the most important pieces in your portfolio. Find a project or problem to solve that you are passionate about because it can lead you to more opportunities.

As a slight disclaimer, please disregard my on-air awkwardness, lack of interviewing skills and radio knowledge…The sound quality isn’t the best since it was recorded from my robot phone that I don’t know how to work, and you can hear me feverishly typing notes in the background…But hey, practice makes perfect, right? Until then, here is some wonderfully intelligent advice from Maria!

Once again, I want to thank Maria for taking time to speak with me! Your advice and generosity is greatly appreciated!


One thought on “6. How to Stand Out In Advertising: An Interview with Maria Scileppi

  1. A very insightful blog… and starts to answer the question I had in blog #7. Maybe I should read these blogs in chronological order.

    Smarter now.

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