Nearly One-Third of AAF Minority Candidates Vacate Ad Industry

Lack of Mentors Biggest Stumbling Block; Being Pigeonholed Also an Issue

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One month after the New York City Commission on Human Rights released its minority-hiring goals for agencies, 50 of the most talented minority students in advertising came to New York for lunch -- and were virtually devoured by 40 recruiters there to meet them.
The perception about or the reality of low starting salaries, along with difficulty breaking into the business, may be part of the reason MPMS alumni have left the ad business.
The perception about or the reality of low starting salaries, along with difficulty breaking into the business, may be part of the reason MPMS alumni have left the ad business.

MPMS program
The American Advertising Federation has for a decade run its Most Promising Minority Student program to help connect candidates with ad agencies, media agencies and marketers. But finding them and keeping them aren't the same thing, as evident by the group's first career-path survey.

Nearly one-third of MPMS program's alumni have since left the business. Advertising professors Alice Kendrick and Jami Fullerton, who conducted the survey and analyzed the results, speculate that perception about or the reality of low starting salaries, along with difficulty breaking into the business, may be part of the cause. Another issue that emerged as a stumbling block for almost all the participants was the lack of mentors.

The upside is that three-quarters of survey participants said they would be willing to serve as mentors themselves. "They know how important it is and what it meant to them," said Ms. Fullerton, a professor at Oklahoma State University.

Other concerns
Another concern among minority candidates was that they would be "forever relegated to working on minority accounts," said Ms. Kendrick, a professor at Temerlin Advertising Institute of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Several respondents remarked that it was a double-edged sword: They felt pigeonholed and found it difficult to work on minority business with people who didn't understand the culture.
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