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Day 3 began at Deutsch. As an avid Today Show watcher and lover of Today’s Professionals, I was ecstatic to go to the agency owned and operated by Donnie Deutsch!

Deutsch had, by far, the coolest office space I have ever seen. The office is located on the 14th floor of a building that occupies an entire city block. Accordingly, the office has a 360 degree view of New York. To one side, you can see the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. To the opposite side, you can see the Empire State Building.

In addition to the amazing view, Deutsch also had a great staff of planners. We were greeted by Zach Lev, a Senior Planner and Miami Ad School graduate from the San Francisco program. He was joined by Jaime Klein Daly, a Group Planning Director. Zach and Jaime gave us an overview of Deutsch, showed us a reel of case studies and offered us the opportunity to chat with some of the planners at the agency. I had a great conversation with Jaime, discussing industry trade secrets and showing her my portfolio. I felt like we clicked and that she would be a great mentor for me as I begin my career, so I left her a copy of my portfolio. (Since returning from New York, I connected with an HR representative from Deutsch who said that Jaime was very impressed by me!)

Following Deutsch, we migrated uptown to BBDO. BBDO is home to last year’s MAS Top Dog, Tom Haslow, our portfolio reviewer from Miami, Paul Matheson, and our hero from Miami, Archana Kumar. BBDO catered an amazing lunch and allowed for two hours of networking with their strategy department. BBDO conducted a sort of roundtable where we spent a few minutes with each planner, allowing for exposure to as many staff members as possible.

I am always hearing that planning is a small community and that everyone knows everyone, but it wasn’t until I went to BBDO that I actually began to believe it. While talking to one of the planners, I mentioned that I previously worked in planning at McKinney. She then commented that two of her classmates at VCU worked as planners at McKinney, and as a matter of fact, I knew both of them! 

We ended day 3 at JWT. When we arrived at at the agency, we sat in the main lobby awaiting our meeting. All of a sudden, Tyler, my former classmate at UNC, walked down the stairs and spotted me. She and I worked together on NSAC and had many classes together, so it was a pleasant surprise to see her. We spent a few minutes catching up and reminiscing about UNC… How things change in a year!

While in Miami, we were introduced to Nancy Jaffe, a Group Planning Director at JWT who taught us about quantitative research. She was our host at JWT, introducing us to a few of her planning staff members and aiding in the presentation of case studies. Following our meeting, Nancy arranged a networking party at The Exchange Bar on 3rd and 23rd. There we met with past Miami Ad School graduates and advertising professionals from a who’s who of agencies in Manhattan. Miami Ad School provided a round of drinks and a devilishly good spread of fried finger foods… the perfect way to cap a long day!

Day 4 marked our final day of agency visits and the last day my classmates and I would be together. The visits on tap for our last day were organized informally by my classmates— we figured that if we were in New York, we might as well try to meet with as many agencies as possible to get the most bang for our bucks!

First stop was Grey. Although we were unable to meet with the planning staff due to business traveling, we were greeted by Claudia Marques from Human Resources. She gave us a brief tour of the office space and ran us through the new hire orientation to give us a feel for the agency. I gave her my resume in case of future opportunities, so we’ll see!

Our last visit was at BBH, home to Miami Ad School graduate John Graham and his staff of several other MAS grads. The view from the TriBeCa office was one of the greatest we saw all week.

BBH is one of the coolest, most innovative agencies I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. With clients such as Axe and Google Chrome, the work produced is funny, emotional and edgy. John ran us through some case studies and informed us of The Barn, BBH’s internship program. The interns are presented with one task (and $1,000 to complete it) during their time at BBH— do something famous. Amazingly, last year’s interns’ brainchild mustered national news and changed the lives of four homeless men living in New York. To learn more, you can visit this link: http://underheardinnewyork.com/

The conclusion of our agency visits marked the official end of the Boot Camp. Sadly, I had to say good bye to the people that I had spent the last 12 weeks of my life laboring, laughing, venting and bonding with. The sap that I am, I cried. Hard.

Somehow, these people became my best friends in the short time that we spent together. When you spend nearly every hour of every day with the same people for three months, you’re likely to form strong bonds. And I did. 

My classmates are currently in en route back to their homes in the UK, Italy, Pittsburgh, Sweden, Venezuela, Philadelphia, San Diego, etc. It saddens me that we are no longer together, but I am encouraged when I acknowledge that fact that many of us may find jobs in the same cities.

Adios, Miami. Bon voyage, Miami Ad School. See you later, friends. Thanks for the ride of my life!

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Greetings from New York City!

My fellow planners and I just completed an exhausting, overwhelming, crazy yet exhilarating week in the Big Apple to officially conclude our Miami Ad School experience. Though our schedules were packed and we all experienced aching legs from the excessive walking, the week-long adventure was absolutely fulfilling.

We started our week with a portfolio review at the Miami Ad School Brooklyn campus in Dumbo. The view was breathtaking, as the school is waterfront and looks out to the Brooklyn Bridge.

The portfolio review was definitely a long day. We arrived at the school at 11:30 to prepare our stations and await the arrival of agency recruiters and employees, and we didn’t leave until approximately 8:30 that night. Though the hours were long, I was able to speak with representatives from a handful of great agencies, including Razorfish, BBH, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Global Hue and The CDM Group. We discussed my past work experiences, what I learned at MAS and, most importantly, my portfolio. I was able to exemplify my strategic thinking through the case studies I included in my book.

All 20 planners were stationed at cocktail tables, and the set-up was similar to what I like to call ‘planning speed-dating.’

Day two began at Rosetta, a digital-centric agency with a consultancy background. We met with Nathaniel Kangpan and Renee Quan, two account planners, who presented their agency credentials, gave us a tour of their offices and proposed an activity that involved creating a compelling strategy in a matter of minutes.

Following Rosetta, we traveled to Droga5, a creative agency that has worked with the likes of Jay-Z, Bing and Puma among others to create amazing, innovative work. The agency is relatively small but the level of talent is astounding. We were hosted at Droga5 by Heidi Hackemer, the coolest, most down-to-earth planner, and we were able to speak to a number of planners on staff to ask questions and glean knowledge.

We concluded the day at kirshenbaum senecal bond + partners, my personal favorite from day one. Located downtown, kbs+p is a mid-sized, super friendly agency with clients including BMW, HomeGoods, John Frieda and Vanguard. Former Miami Ad School Boot Camper James Thorpe hosted us, and we were joined by Mick McCabe, a familiar face from our time down in Miami. Contrary to the set-up of other agency visits, kbs+p used our time together to allow us to meet as many people in the planning department as possible, opting to use a speed dating format rather than presenting copious case studies.

I realized upon leaving kbs+p that the gut feeling I feel when stepping into an agency is a legitimate indicator of my sentiment towards working there. My feelings of comfortability, intimidation, impartiality or excitement are honest signs of which agencies I can picture myself at and which ones may not be the right fit. In the case of kbs+p, I immediately felt at ease and “home”, as if it was my perfect match.

More to come, so stay tuned!

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I arrived home from Miami on Sunday, but the memories I made down in the 305 are definitely here to stay. Though I often joked about South Beach— the city is absurd in so many ways— I can’t quite shake the urge to go back.

Let’s recap a few of the things I’ll miss about my time in Miami Beach, and the things I’m happy to have left behind.

I’ll miss:

  • The sunshine— nowhere else can you find 365 days of sun and cloudless skies
  • The proximity— everything is within walking distance. Car not required.
  • The culture— I’ve lived in Florida for 10 years of my life, but the Hispanic culture of South Beach is unmatched
  • The people— the friendships fostered at Miami Ad School, I can honestly say, will last a lifetime

I won’t mind living without:

  • The stray cats and dogs— I love animals, but I don’t love the ‘presents’ they leave on my doorstep
  • The living conditions— seriously? Thousands of dollars to live in a closet for 3 months?!
  • The prices— 10 bucks for a bottle of beer. Enough said.
  • Spring Breakers— As if Miami didn’t already seem like it’s on vacation 24/7, add collegiate Spring Breakers

Miami, it was fun. But now it’s time to get a job and move on!

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I did it! I’m officially a Miami Ad School graduate!

Last night marked the completion of the Account Planning Boot Camp as we received our dog tags (Miami Ad School’s version of a diploma).

I had so many emotions during the ceremony. I was excited upon getting my dog tags, nervous during the announcement of the Top Dog, nostalgic as I watched the creative track students give their speeches and tickled as I watched my classmates perform during their comedy routines. (Oh yeah, did I mention that our graduation ceremony was followed by stand-up comedy performed by the MAS copywriting class?!)

But it’s all over now, and it’s sad to think that it was the finale of our time at Miami Ad School. Yes, the planners and I will share some more time together in South Beach and conquer New York City together at the end of the month. But last night marked the last time that all of my friends— art directors and copywriters included— and I would be together. 

All that’s left is to turn in the final version of my portfolio on Wednesday. Then it’s Bon Voyage, Miami… Hello, rest of my life!

Whatever opportunities may come my way in the next few months, I will always cherish the memories I have made in South Beach, and I owe a large part of my future successes to Miami Ad School.

My first Duck Duck Goose team, Team 50fifty. I will love you guys forever!

My art director and fellow American Girl, Kyra. Start something epic!

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As Boot Camp comes to a close in the coming weeks, this weekend proved to be the last little push I needed to get to the finish. After an exhausting week of Caramoor preparations, I can honestly say the last thing I wanted to do was finish up my portfolio. However, some encouraging words from our Hero Mick McCabe and our portfolio instructor David Jacobsen put a pep in my step.

I met for an individual session with Mick Saturday morning to discuss a few of my case studies for my book. With very minimal constructive criticism, Mick noted that my work was strong. He also commented that I was “one of the good ones” and that I had “a good brain.” An unusual compliment? Yes. A welcomed compliment? You betcha.

Following my meeting with Mick, I met one-on-one with David to discuss portfolio themes, organization and tying together loose strings. I expressed many concerns about my book, but he immediately ceased my worrying and put a smile on my face. Without a moment’s notice, he raised his hand and gave me a high five. “It’s a homerun. Don’t change a thing.”

A sigh of relief.

I’m putting the finishing touches on my portfolio as we speak, and it’s due tomorrow. On Thursday, I will be meeting with Paul Matheson, Director of Planning at BBDO New York, to receive his review of my portfolio. Wish me luck!

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Here is a link to my final client pitch for Caramoor.

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The Caramoor pitch has taught me one very important lesson. The group dynamics of advertising dictate conflict. Because advertising is subjective in nature, it’s inevitable. No group is always going to agree on what is best.

But although conflict can be stressful, frustrating and emotionally draining, it can also (surprisingly) fuel the most amazing ideas, concepts and creative executions.

The winners of the pitch were the team that nearly combusted earlier this week. They argued. They yelled. They cried. They could not agree on a strategy. And they nearly gave up. Yet they won.

I admit, I once believed that keeping the peace was the straight path to success. No one steps on anyone’s toes, no one gets offended and everyone benefits from the group harmony. However, I believe more and more that a little bit of conflict is healthy.

Conflict airs out bad ideas, gaps in thinking and mediocre work. It allows for honesty. It helps make us all better.

And improvement, at the end of the day, is what helps us all grow, mature and succeed in the future.

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The past weekend’s guest lecturer was Erik Hanson, Brand Strategy Director at Wieden+Kennedy. Needless to say, his resume is impressive. Before working at W+K, Erik spent four years working for Apple at the Media Arts Lab in conjunction with TBWA and two years at Fallon. After meeting with him for three days and receiving advice about planning, portfolios and careers in general, it dawned on me.

I am learning from the best in the business.

As I reflect on the past eight weeks in Miami, I realize that the instructors who have taught my class hail from some of the most successful agencies in the industry. I am extremely fortunate to have had one-on-one time with the brilliant minds who are creating campaigns for Target, GameStop, FeBreze, Coca Cola, NBC, Campbell’s and ESPN amongst others.

Here’s a recap of the agencies where my industry Heroes currently work:

Week 1: The Richards Group
Week 2: BBDO and Javelin
Week 3: CP+B
Week 4: Grey
Week 5: Fallon
Week 6: JWT
Week 7: G2
Week 8: Wieden+Kennedy

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Only ad people will understand…

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