If you have read about my journey from NSAC in Kansas City to being the writer and photographer on the Ad Club STL Internship Hop team, you know I’m currently living it up in St. Louis, working on some exciting projects under the guidance of the really talented and amazing folk at the agencies here. We wrapped our second week at H&L Partners by presenting a campaign we put together in under four days. Go team!
So how did this flannel-loving fashion photographer turned advertising student manage to make this happen you ask? Good question. While I might like to think my natural charm and charisma makes stuff happen, a smarter part of my brain luckily knows there’s a lot of work to be done. Shoutouts start with my strategic writing for advertising and public relations professor, Michael Goff. I may have on occasion grumbled about his decisions to spring surprises by hiding questions inside paragraphs that were actually instructions for the test but he really got me to focus clearly on writing. By no means an easy task, since I usually took my ability to write for granted. I worked as a photographer, visual ranked higher than written for me.
I think what makes the University of Nebraska-Lincoln a great place to study is in the support system offered by the alumni. Several UNL/CoJMC grads work with agencies out of Lincoln and Omaha and offer valuable insight to students trying to make sense of what’s waiting for them outside the safe spaces of the University. Hurrdat is one such agency. They help brands create comprehensive strategies to increase their exposure through branding, social media, and content marketing. Sounds like fun right? I thought so too. I ran into Krista Vogel, then their Agency Director (she is now the brand strategist at Spreetail) at one of the the PRSSA events at UNL and she was more than happy to answer some very pressing doubts even the smart side of my brain was facing difficulty resolving.
A Journalism Background Helps
Q: You started out in journalism but chose to switch over to advertising. How did that happen?
Krista: I wouldn’t say I “switched” from journalism to advertising, so much as I found a way to integrate my journalism background into advertising. My decision to take on a career in marketing was driven by my ability to write and communicate. I knew I could be an effective copywriter based on my experience writing accurately and succinctly for journalism, and that blew my post-graduation job search wide open. I started seeing that the skills I’d learned in journalism school would apply in so many potential careers. When I landed a copywriting internship at Hurrdat, I found that I really enjoyed the creative aspects of it, and the client interaction. As my experience grew, so did the opportunities here. I still keep those journalism skills fresh, but now I’ve got a whole new set of strategic marketing skills too.
Nurture Your Network
Q: Understandably, students don’t have much of work experience to add to their LinkedIn profile or resumes. What would you recommend the students do outside of classrooms that would help them fix that?
Krista: Networking is so important. Students have so many opportunities at UNL to meet professionals who can serve as mentors and connections to aid in professional and career development, and there are countless opportunities outside the university as well. Networking can be done both in person and online, so students can participate in industry conferences or visit a local agency, but they can also join in the weekly AdWeek Twitter chat to make connections (and a name for themselves) nationally. Networking helps build a personal brand, enriches one’s perspective, and creates valuable connections. Further, students should expect to continue nurturing their network for the entirety of their career; it never stops being important. Another tip I’d add is to volunteer time for a campus organization or community nonprofit to gain experience. There are so many small organizations out there who would jump at the opportunity to have a student help with a communications plan or execute a social media campaign! Getting involved in the community is personally fulfilling, but it can make students more marketable job candidates too.
Never Stop Reading
Q: Books beyond curricula and ‘recommended reading’.
Krista: The books I read are almost exclusively based on my personal interests, rather than for my career specifically, but a couple of my favorites are:
1) “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer: First, this is an amazing (and tragic) story. But what makes it special is that Krakauer is a journalist, and that he participated in the Everest expedition for that reason. He set off to tell a story about the commercialization of Everest, and ended up sharing a deeply personal account of a terrifying ordeal — all the while adhering to the journalistic principle of getting the details right.
2) The AP Stylebook: I know this one falls into the required reading category, but I think few students actually take the time to read it. It’s great for making quick references, but it’s also filled with valuable information and history. And in any career, written communication is a foundational skill students will be expected to possess. Even the best writers can be drowned out by grammatical errors, and even the shortest emails can be discarded due to silly errors. Having an editing mindset helps in any career path!
Krista Vogel is a digital marketer and branding pro with experience in campaign strategy, copywriting, audience engagement, and analytics. After more than five years at social media startup Hurrdat, she now serves as the Creative Brand Strategist at Spreetail, a fast-growing ecommerce company in Lincoln, Nebraska. She also volunteers as a board member and marketing committee chair for local nonprofit Fresh Start and moonlights as an editing professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.