May 2—Northwestern announces the addition of a student chapter of AdFed, Advertising Federation of Minnesota, beginning this fall (2011). AdFed is a non-profit, professional trade association that serves the local advertising community including agencies, advertisers, suppliers and students.
Katherine Murphy, Northwestern chapter president, and Ethan MacDonald, chapter interactive media rep, talk about how the group started and the benefits of student involvement with AdFed.
Northwestern: How did the NWC chapter get started?
Katherine: Graphic design professor Kjel Alkire first directed me to AdFed when he made me aware of a mentorship event at Spill the Wine in Minneapolis. I ended up attending by myself (alone and terrified!) and happened to sit down next to the Creative Director at Colle+McVoy. My conversation with him was priceless. I was hooked.
I became a member of AdFed and started attending more events, as well as inviting other design majors. At a networking event at Periscope, I was approached alongside two other NWC students about starting an AdFed chapter on campus. I connected with Dan Jacobson at AdFed to make this a reality. AdFed doesn't have official student chapters, but the staff has been more than willing to set something up that makes sense with AdFed's mentorship program. I am the chapter president and Drew Elrick is the VP. Ethan MacDonald is our Interactive Design rep, and we hope to add reps for Graphic Design, Marketing, Business, Copywriting, PR, and Communications.
Northwestern: What department does the chapter fall under? Who can be involved in membership?
Katherine: The chapter is currently in the Department of Art and Graphic Design with Professor Alkire as our unofficial faculty advisor. However, I understand advertising to be holistic and hope to include the Business, Communications, and English/Writing departments. Ultimately, I don't want AdFed to remain within the confines of the design department. I have already reached out to faculty in Marketing, Writing, and PR to get input from them, as well as pass information along to their students about AdFed. It is our desire that AdFed at Northwestern is representative of the multi-disciplinary ad community.
Northwestern: What types of activities do you anticipate the AdFed group will host or attend?
Kaitlyn: AdFed MN hosts frequent events that could be enough to keep the chapter busy by attending those alone. However, there has been interest in getting AdFed mentors onto Northwestern's campus to speak directly with the students about advertising. Minneapolis has some awesome leaders in advertising in the US—I want to utilize those resources. I hope that one of our first events could be a discussion about the job opportunities in advertising. I also would like to plan more laid-back "community-building" events.
Northwestern: What are some of the benefits you’ve seen as a member of AdFed?
Katherine: AdFed is a great resource for networking. I have yet to walk away from an AdFed event without a business card. It is also a good way to stay relevant on the current conversations in advertising. Even though I am still a student, I have found it important and helpful to remain involved with the advertising community. The ad community in Minneapolis is like a small town. It is possible that any conversation I have with a professional at a mentorship or networking could lead to an internship or job down the road!
Ethan: I have not had quite as extensive experience as Katie with AdFed thus far, but from what I've seen, AdFed carries itself very well. I have had experiences with other organizations and not many seem to be all encompassing like AdFed. I am excited to be the Interactive Media rep for the school. It will provide me with an opportunity to learn more about AdFed and be able to reach out and grab those whom I know would be excited to be involved in the organization. I appreciate the wide range of disciplines that are represented in AdFed. With such variety, it allows me to network with those outside my field and make connections with those whom I can work alongside to better our advertising work and our ability to work together toward a large goal.
Northwestern: Have you had any success in making connections with the professional world?
Katherine: YES! I mentioned meeting the Creative Director at Colle+McVoy at my first mentorship event. His name is Eric Husband and he was recently featured in the Communication Arts Interactive Annual. Colle+McVoy has gained a lot of publicity for their Caribou redesign and their takemefishing.com website. I am sure this will prove to be a great contact in the future. I have also had the opportunity to meet a number of other professionals—with every new person I meet, I learn something new about advertising!
Northwestern: What would you like to do after college?
Katherine: Upon graduation I'll have a degree in graphic design with two associates in marketing and general business. I would really like to get into Account Management or Project Management at an ad agency or an interactive design firm. I am really fascinated by the opportunities in digital marketing, so I want to channel my job search in that direction!