As I started brainstorming my talking points, I realized I wasn't just making it up -- the club really was one of the most beneficial things I did in college. I think any college student who's serious about a career in advertising should consider joining or starting an advertising club, in fact. Here's why:
1. You get to be around other people who love marketing as much as you do. A lot of advertising and marketing majors don't really know if this is what they want to do for a living. In fact, a lot of them will decide that we're all insane and they'd rather not. It is so energizing to be in a room full of people who are passionate about marketing.
2. It's the closest thing you'll get to real-world experience inside the four walls of a school. The best thing you can do to prepare for your career is to get an internship or a part-time job in the industry. The next best thing is an advertising club. You're on a team that's working with a real client to create real campaigns. You face a lot of the same challenges you face in a job -- deadlines, teamwork, competition, coordination, organization. It's not always fun, but it's worth it when you see the finished product.
3. The people in your club will be contacts for life. I keep in touch with a lot of people from my group, and they are all doing amazing things. And your group members aren't the only great contacts you make -- my club's adviser was a reference for me when I graduated, and I've since given her students first dibs at various internships and part-time job opportunities.
4. You can use the work in your portfolio. Whatever your club does, whether it be community work, the AAF competition, or even just ads promoting the club around the school, you're creating real work that produces real results. Save everything for your portfolio and make sure to keep track of the outcomes. If you can go into an interview and say "I was on the team that created this campaign for the ad club and we saw a 30% increase in new recruits," you're that much closer to a job offer.
5. You'll get unique opportunities you might otherwise miss out on. Instead of just attending campus seminars, you'll be planning them and greeting the guest speakers. Instead of reading about local advertising events after the fact, you'll be recruited to work them. If you wind up creating ads for the local community or doing the AAF competition, you'll have your work in front of important industry decision-makers before you've even graduated college.
Like anything else, you'll get as much out of a club as you put in. Showing up at meetings once in a while so you can put it on your resume as an "activity" you were involved in probably won't do much. If you really want to benefit from it, get involved. Go to meetings, get creative, speak up, plan events, and I think you'll find it was a very rewarding experience.