I suspect Rotfeld was complaining about the tendency of some advertising programs to sell themselves as guarantors of careers. That's strange, because it's the last thing we would promise prospective students who ask why they should major in advertising at the University of South Carolina.
What we do tell them is that an advertising major provides a unique opportunity to gain a liberal arts education (about 3/4 of their coursework) as they explore the effects of the mass media on society. Moreover, we add that they'll also develop critical life skills in nearly every advertising course they take. In the principles of advertising course, for example, they'll learn how the advertising profession operates, how it affects our values and ethics, and how it evolved as a part of our American heritage. In creative strategy, as they learn to write and design advertising, they'll also discover how to think strategically and creatively-how to gather information and, by adding their own insight, develop a persuasive argument. In media analysis, they'll sharpen their analytical reasoning skills as they search demographic and lifestyle profiles of media and markets to arrive at a workable recommendation. In advertising research, they'll learn to formulate questionnaires, explore consumer attitudes and use principles of psychology to discover what respondents really mean when they answer questions.
I would add that, contrary to Rotfeld's belief that students are asked only to memorize information, "as if learning lists of facts alone has value on the job market," our courses offer hands-on projects with a theoretical underpinning.
Granted, while all this doesn't always lead to a job in the field, the best students continue to land the best jobs.
A. Jerome Jewler
Prof., College of Journalism &
Mass Communications, University of South Carolina
Colleges say, "Through the proper selection of courses, a student may prepare for a career in..." As advertising professor Herbert Rotfeld stated, "We [professors] have no right to sell our major as something with strong job value." This doesn't mean it's the college's fault if recent graduates like myself don't land jobs. But professors should consider some new objectives.
I've been lucky. I had three internships, one with Cramer-Krasselt. My manager at C-K best conveyed the importance of experience when he told me only a fraction of students interested in advertising had even set foot in an agency, much less worked for one.
I offer the following suggestions:
1. Tell students they need experience when they are freshmen.
2. Loosen internship program entry requirements. (Often a student must be a senior and have a 3.4 GPA just to have a chance to participate.)
3. Expand internship programs. (Agencies, vendors, boutiques, clients, etc.)
4. Spend more time in the field. (Teach trends in hiring criteria and agency operations).
5. Balance the work load. (Lessen text assignments enough to allow students to-here's a thought-read Ad Age. Every grad should know who Bob Garfield is.)
6. Be honest. (Tell students Catch-22 exists; you can't get experience without a job and you can't get a job without experience...unless you're somebody's kid.)
Tucson (Ariz.) Newspapers