The “G-Word”

No, not G-string. Someone asked if that was the G-word I referred to…Sorry to disappoint but I’m talking about Generosity.

My professor tends to use this word liberally. Each time we hear the word “generosity” escape from her mouth, students shoot a smiling glance at each other and shake our heads thinking “Oh silly Deb, and her catch phrases…”

When I first told my non-advertising friends I was missing a week of school to go to New York, they were confused (and jealous). Each person wanted to know what I would do there. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure myself. As far as I knew, we would go to the One Show Creative Week student exhibit and visit various advertising agencies in between. I expected to tour agencies and sit through presentations. What actually happened surprised me.

Advertising has a reputation for being a cut-throat world filled with egotistical Don Drapers and hierarchies. Although most agencies still reside on Madison Ave, the days of being an asshole (their words, not mine mom!) are over.

I learned so many things while I was in New York. I have notebooks filled with quotes and insights. I could write a 10,000 word blog post on everything I soaked up. However, one of my biggest takeaways was that advertising isn’t as scary of a world as it appears.

Eager students hanging on every word

As a lowly student who just discovered the actual job description of a planner, or still doesn’t know the difference between an Art Director and a Designer, it’s easy to feel like a minnow in a shark pool. We hear stories of agencies receiving over 400 applications per week, and we cry ourselves to sleep  thinking about how we’ll forever remain living with our parents (or potentially a cardboard box if we’re lucky enough to land an internship that pays minimum wage). But speaking with people in the industry showed me that we can do it.

It won’t be easy. It’s going to be difficult, and at times we’ll question why we even bother in the first place. But we’re capable of huge things if we keep our passion alive. And people in the industry are there to help us along the way.

“You have all of the power. Don’t let it go unrealized” – Michael Lebowitz, Big Spaceship.

I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of each person that we met while in New York. Every industry professional had incredible insight for us, and genuinely wanted to help us succeed. Initially, I expected short tours and presentations that ended with “alright, thanks for coming but we’ve gotta go back to work”. I was so impressed and overwhelmed by the kindness each person showed us. They took time out of their day to speak with us, and some even rearranged their schedules so that we could talk more. Almost all of them gave us their contact information and encouraged us to reach out to them at any time. It’s not often that you find people who are so willing to help you, even though you just met.

“Advertising is a chaotic job. Nothing has a logical projection. It’s managed chaos. But there’s no distinct, ordered process towards creativity” – Matt Macdonald, JWT

New York is a place that used to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I grew up in a small town in Oregon, and I am accustomed to the relaxed west-coast vibe. The first time I visited in New York, I came back emotionally and physically exhausted. I remember telling my parents that I hated New York and I would never live there because “everyone is on their own agenda”. It was too fast paced for me. Oh, how times change.

Both New York and Advertising still terrify me. There’s days when I wonder if I’ll survive the industry. However, meeting everyone in New York made me realize that there are far more good people in the world than bad people. We met some incredibly inspiring people who want to see us flourish, and that makes me feel like the real world isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be.

Someday, I hope to be on the other side of it, helping students feel the same way. In the end, we’re all just people. And where would we be if we didn’t help each other once in a while?

“Be smart, work your ass off, and help anyone who needs it” – Tom McDonnell, DDB

Thank you so much to everyone who met with us during the week, and especially Deb Morrison, Dave Koranda, and Harsha Gagadharbatla for leading the way. There’s no way I can ever express my gratitude for the incredible experience that I had. Thank you.