Students attend AAF Career Conference, connect with NYC alumni

Group photo of students and faculty member in front of Google sign

Four Marietta College students recently visited New York City where they attended the American Advertising Federation’s student career conference, toured Google’s New York offices and visited with alumni.

The AAF’s Advertising Career Conference was hosted by Amazon in late November. During the two-day event students Tianhui “Rosey” Cao ’21 (Shanghai, China), Hannah Garofalo ’21 (Leetonia, Ohio), Abby Gonzales ’21 (Parkersburg, West Virginia) and Shawnte Watson ’21 (Marietta, Ohio) heard from professionals from several agencies, media and brands, including Amazon, YouTube, The Nielsen Company, TBWA, Ogilvy and more.

Students also attended a Recruiter Expo to network with professionals and get career advice.

“This gave students an outside of the classroom experience,” said faculty advisor Lori Smith, who accompanied the group to New York. “They got to hear from industry professionals and network with students from across the country. It gives them a chance to confirm that this is a career they are interested in and gets them excited about their future.”

Watson, who is majoring in Management, said the conference exceeded her expectations.

“I was surprised that there were so many impactful speakers such as Jamie Lomas (Director of Global Emerging Account Sales in Amazon Advertising,) Doug Melville (Chief Diversity Officer of TBWA) and Vita Harris (Chief Strategy Officer of FCB,) along with several more,” she said. “Rather than there being a textbook equation on ‘how to become successful,’ each of the speakers shared ‘their story’ and inspired us all to find ‘our story’ in order to set us apart in the professional world.

“We had several speakers talk to us about the importance of working on diverse teams to create powerful advertisements,” she added. “Being inclusive in our advertising is essential to making an impact. Advertising is the quickest way to make a change, so we must utilize that in a way that will lift us all up.”

Garofalo said she appreciated the number of time presenters spent with students. The junior marketing major said she took away a lot of good advice.

“The idea that you pay for what you do not know stuck with me the most,” she said. “Doug Melville said this, and to stay up on all the news outlets and try to gain as much knowledge from as many people that you can, because the more you know the better. 

“The other idea I brought back with me was to have a team of people from different backgrounds — because everyone is different, they have different beliefs and that can benefit your company or yourself when it comes to advertising.”

The tour of Google’s New York office was arranged by former AAF chapter member Tyler Baltzell ’15. While in the region, the students also connected with three other alumni, MCAA Board member Mike Joliat ’06, Patrick Quinn ’07 and KeXin “Coco” Shao ’18.