On Wednesday, February 27, 2008, students from RIT traveled to New York City for the 2nd Annual New York Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference. The event, put together by Adrants, New York University, and the Business Development Institute, was held at the Helen & Martin Kimmel Center for University Life at NYU. These students, from a variety of RIT programs, were given this opportunity through grants provided by the Department of Communication, the Co-op Office and Student Affairs. Undergraduate and graduate students came from a number of colleges to network and gather job leads in the advertising industry.
The keynote speaker for the morning conference was Carole H. Williams, president and CEO of the Carol H. Williams Advertising agency in Chicago, which centers on diversity advertising, mainly regarding race and disabilities. Ms. Williams spoke eloquently about the harsh realities of the evolving world of advertising, and impressed upon the audience that “you have to do the things you hate to get to the things you love.” Other speakers Steve Etzler, founder of the Business Development Institute; Renee Harris, the Chair of Marketing at NYU; and Gay Gaddis, president of The Think Tank advertising agency.
An interesting aspect of the conference and job fair was its emphasis on diversity, meaning minority groups, ethnic groups, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transsexual), as well as women. Elements of this diversity were addressed during the conference, and speakers gave students advice for obtaining confidence in their abilities regardless of their race, disability, or sexual preference
Sharitta Gross, Program Coordinator of Cooperative Education and Career Services at RIT said, “The aspect of diversity was very important because the up and coming professionals will represent all walks of life and bring fresh perspectives to the world of advertising.”
Rasheed Robinson (Marketing ’08) notes, “The Conference and Job Fair catered to all walks of diversity; however, it didn't seem as though the speakers were giving advice to help minorities make it in the field of advertising. What they were saying could have applied to anyone.”
Advertising agencies from the East coast came to meet potential employees at the afternoon Job Fair that could awaken the advertising industry with their young viewpoints.
George Kartheiser (APR ’09) said, “The Job Fair was a good way for students with unique background to get acquainted with agencies seeking to make their workplace more diverse.”
With over 30 companies exhibiting, several hundred students were able to make a variety of contacts, learn how to market themselves, and obtain business cards. Said Ryland Bacorn (APR ’08), “The Job Fair was great for two reasons: students were able to network and second, they had the chance to meet a diverse crowd. There were big agencies present and learning what they wanted was very helpful.”
The 2nd Annual New York Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference, overall, helped students get their feet in the door with many prospective employers. Both the companies and students walked away rich with business relationships. These job seekers are now ahead of the game, ready to shape the advertising industry in coming years. Bacorn added, “The experience was excellent and I recommend it to any student interested in the advertising industry.”