‘Ad 2’ Your Future Through Industry Organizations
In December 2015, I graduated from LSU, said goodbye to my hometown, and prepared to launch my career at INK. The second I crossed Texas state lines in my jam-packed Toyota, I swelled with emotions: I was nervous but hopeful, exhausted but exhilarated, proud but lonesome. I’d spent more than 20 years building a network of brilliant friends and professional contacts in Louisiana – how long would it take to find a new network in the Silicon Hills?
Enter: Ad 2 Austin.
After a little Googling and a lot of creeping on social media, I discovered Ad 2 Austin. Ad 2 Austin is a local, not-for-profit organization comprised of students and professionals, ages 32 and under, who have a passion for advertising, communications, graphic and web design, and everything between. Joined by 23 chapters (and counting!) across the nation, Ad 2 is a division of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the oldest national advertising trade association that represents all facets of the advertising industry. As a part of the AAF, Ad 2 proudly represents the future of advertising through its ability to unite young, talented professionals as one group.
I connected with the president of Ad 2 Austin, RSVP’d for the next monthly meeting, and researched relevant committee positions that would amplify my skillset. Torn between social media and event planning, I bashfully attended my first monthly meeting, chatted through my options, and was warmly welcomed to the communications committee as a social media chair. To cultivate my skillset in PR, I also joined PRSA Austin and began attending and blogging about monthly luncheons.
Because advertising and public relations are not everyone’s specialties, I’ve compiled a list of three reasons why any professional should join industry organizations to enhance their careers:
Enrich your network
A vital part of building a successful career is developing relationships with other professionals within your industry. Whether you’re looking for a job or simply trying to build your resume, professional organizations are the perfect outlets for building connections with like-minded individuals. You can strengthen ties with clients or colleagues in your industry, find a mentor to guide you in your career, and chat with key achievers about best practices and success stories. By joining Ad 2 and the AAF, I was inaugurated into a network of more than 5,000 professionals across the nation – from Chicago to Tampa, Honolulu to Washington D.C. We join together twice a year at ADMERICA and for our annual Mid-Year Retreat, where we hear from a host of industry speakers, explore the latest industry news and trends, and address how the changing culture of business and consumers is impacting our industry. I’ve made lifelong friends at these events and cannot recommend them enough to my fellow young professionals.
Become a better leader or mentor
While it’s easy to read the newsletter, show up at monthly meetings when it’s convenient, or just pay club dues to maintain your membership, you could be selling yourself short if you’re not actively working to get more involved. Running for an executive board or committee position in any industry organization gives you an opportunity to develop your skills as a leader. This is especially beneficial to young professionals who aren’t at a leadership stage in their careers but want to grow their managerial skills. By co-leading the communications committee for Ad 2 Austin, I learned valuable organization and creative skills that were directly relevant to developing social media deliverables for clients. As the current vice president of Ad 2 Austin, I’ve honed important account management proficiencies that I use to lead campaigns and projects at INK. Whether you’re polishing your time management skills as an executive board member, or learning how to secure sponsorships as a fundraising chair, taking on a leadership role in an industry organization is a surefire, rewarding way to advance your career.
Give back to your community
If you’re interested in supporting community efforts through socially conscious initiatives, joining a local organization is a great way to give back. Public service is a key pillar of many professional associations, including Ad 2 and the AAF. For more than 40 years, Ad 2 chapters across the nation have donated holistic advertising and marketing campaigns for nonprofits doing meaningful work for important causes and changing lives. Each year, chapters select a client, conduct primary research to identify the client’s needs, and use their professional expertise to create a complete, strategic marketing plan tailored to that client’s goals. Then, Ad 2 members execute that plan by creating television, radio, print, outdoor, social media, and interactive advertising elements. This year, we’ve partnered with Code2College, a local nonprofit that provides access and opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) fields to students from underrepresented backgrounds in tech: girls, students of color, and individuals from low-income backgrounds. To explore the fruits of our labor, browse the winning presentations from Ad 2 National’s most recent Ad 2 Public Service Competition participants.
I recently did a video chat with a class of senior public relations undergrads at the University of Oklahoma about my career. When asked for my opinion on the best piece of advice for graduating seniors, it was simple: get involved. Break free from your comfort zone and attend networking events after a long workday. Identify your dream job and set up informational interviews with local professionals employed in that position to get an insider-perspective (this is how I landed my internship at INK!). Find a cause or industry you’re passionate about and not only join an organization that aligns, but run for a leadership position. Volunteer to help with new projects at work, even if they lie outside of your expertise. Carry business cards with you at all times, and follow up with new connections via email or LinkedIn within one week of meeting. Always remember: Nothing happens until something moves.
If you’d like to learn more about how INK’s offerings complement those of Ad 2 Austin, join us at INK’s shiny new office space this Thursday, December 14 for Kegs with Legs: Jingle Mingle edition. Co-hosted by Ad 2 Austin and local agencies around town, this traveling happy hour series allows young professionals to network with local creative agencies while offering agencies a chance to show off their digs and find up-and-coming talent. To hear more about the benefits to joining the AAF and Ad 2, tune in Thursday to a new episode of The Good Stuff & The Noise, featuring myself and the immediate past president of the Austin AAF/the co-founder of White Hat, Debra Magnuson.