How a Student Organization Became the First Step to My New Career

An On-Campus Experience Can Lead to Your First Job

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Imagine we were all born knowing what career path to take. While there are some people who always knew what they wanted to do, others learn along their journey in life. Instead of knowing right off the bat, I view my career steps like a puzzle. For each choice I make, I see which piece fits. During my college years, I found the first piece of my puzzle, when I started with the Baruch college chapter of American Advertising Federation (AAF).

During high school, I was involved in extracurricular activities and I thought I should give it a shot in college to meet new people. When I started as a freshman, my major was undecided until I became more active in AAF. The first step was an engaging print ad on our campus walls that caught my attention. Then the current president grouped the members into mock ad agencies and said we would partner with other student organizations to create campaigns for their upcoming events, and I was hooked.

This opportunity was exciting as a way to meet people with similar interests and be exposed to advertising outside of the regular classroom. My team was called Fresh Outlook and we collaborated with our school newspaper to create a print ad for a fashion show. Suddenly, I was learning how to use Photoshop, meet deadlines and managing the budget expense for advertising purposes. It was fascinating to participate in these mini campaigns. Once I learned more about advertising and the creative aspects of it, my interest in advertising rapidly escalated. If you have not already, I recommend joining organizations that interest you and that you can enthusiastically participate in to get the most out of it.

Another advantage for me in joining the college chapter of AAF was the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). It is an excellent way to gain hands on experience to create an integrated communications campaign. A client provides students with a case study, and then each group competes with over 150 colleges nationwide. Besides this competition, I had the opportunity to plan our annual Marketing Network Social, organize Baruch events for companies to speak and recruit, as well as manage agency tours where a group of students explore the look and feel inside an agency.

All that practical experience only fueled my passion for advertising, and I knew it was the perfect fit for my career choice. Overall, I believe it really comes down to what makes you happy and the only way to know this is to network, be proactive, and explore while you have fun collecting these puzzle pieces to build a a career that 's right for you.

About the Author
Jessalin Lam is a 2010 graduate of Baruch College with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Marketing Management. After graduation, Jessalin took a position as a Sales Assistant for Empire Promotional Products. Lam was promoted to a Sales and Marketing Associate, responsible for developing strong relationships and selling various promotional products to clients such as GE, American Express, and Baruch College. In her spare time, Jessalin volunteers for Advertising Women in New York (AWNY) and is involved in the Young Executive, Advertising Career Conference, Hospitality, and Mentor Committees for AWNY. She is also in the Marketing Communication Committee for American Marketing Association New York Chapter.

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