A little class

What do you need to know to get a job in the ad world?

If this were a mad world, all you would need to learn was a little mixology, an eye on fashion, and an ability to hide your dirty little secrets.

But the game has changed considerably and not all of us are as quick-witted as Don Draper. So what classes would make for the perfect entryway into the professional advertising world?

Being a senior at Marquette, I have my own complaints and aggravations about the program, but it is a developing major and I can understand why some problems exist. Let’s start with the major issue with the program – there is an identity crisis.

From my first day at Marquette I wondered whether or not I wanted to be on the business end of things or the creative end. After four years, I’m still very much in the air. My general skills would push me into the creative end of things, but I’m self-conscious about my ideas after knowing the work of creatives in art school. I could argue that my education can push me into the business end of things, but I’ve gained no sales or managerial experience through education alone and sought out for it on my own through work experience. Any media planning/buying/selling all resides in one course (about which I would love the chance to talk to a dean about). Entering my 4th year and about $120K later, I wonder to myself – what did I learn with my tenure here? Of which I can answer; Marquette has made me aware.

Knowing what’s out there is half the battle; now the rest lies in where my creativity, character, and problem solving can differentiate me from my competitors – maybe even you dear reader. I don’t believe my education has put my pursuit of happiness in a level above others, but it is definitely a great resource for me to know what to keep an eye on.

But for just a second, let’s pretend we can turn the future of Marquette advertising education into a program that can force an uneven playing field. What coursework would be perfect for this?

^The line into pure fantasy has been crossed.

First, let’s scrap these required communication study courses that teach you the importance of semantics or the history of communication. An english class and a journalism class should be enough to suffice. If you can’t make the distinction between the way Anderson Cooper reports and the rhetorical nature of Thomas Hardy, maybe you should read more than TXT MSGS on the small screen. Advertising is spreading the message to the general public – take classes that are with the general public in order to talk with them. Learn, understand, and engage your future markets. This alone might stop Ad Award winners from creating Ads that only appeal to other Ad workers.

Second; public relations, advertising, and marketing each have very similar course loads. Sure they are all very different, but surprise, surprise; one is the school of business and the other two are in the college of communications. And what’s that? They each have their own research course!? PR Research, Ad Research, and Mark Research? So you’re saying I’m going to spend three semesters in a row learning about the importance of Arbitron and Nielsen or focus groups and survey types? At least I can tell my future employer that I spent nearly half of my college tenure on an aspect of Marketing that Steve Jobs considered a waste. His market research was a conversation between his left and right hemispheres of his brain. People can only tell you what they want in terms of what they know. Everyone wants faster, better, cheaper…but do they know they want an iPad?

Third, let’s get everyone on the same level in terms of technology. Adobe creative suite owns this business. In each of my classes, I’ve heard nothing but high praises for InDesign and that we students should learn it as best as possible. InDesign is great, it helps piece beautiful layouts of items by using things that already exist. What about the strengths of Illustrator, or super-program Photoshop? Attention Marquette students, Photoshop can and will do almost anything and anything better than InDesign. What does Indesign have over Photoshop? The ability to work with multiple pages at once. Need a pretty picture? Please uses photoshop. What about Illustrator? Perfect for creating drawings from scratch such as logos, dinosaurs, and dinosaur logos.

Fourth, the ad world is continually evolving, let’s have more current professors. I don’t mean to knock the professors, many of which I sing high praises. I do have my own personal preferences though, and I tend to lean more toward the side of adjunct professors. They know more first hand of what the world is like and the best way to get into the world. I am not saying that the theories of full-time professors aren’t useful, but sometimes their information may seem as outdated as the library’s crosstab market demographic information. I was once told by a professor that if I wasn’t already on MySpace, I need to get on it because social networking is the wave of the future. S/he (we’re not naming names) has clearly never heard of Mark Zuckerberg (Alright, that was a name). I admire Don Draper, but the way he does business is not the way it is done today.

I came off today as pretty critical of my education at Marquette University and I don’t mean to come off too harsh. Though with every rant, there is reason. I can only speak from my perspective, which the frame is relatively limited as I don’t know the programs of other institutions – I only speculate.

There are fantastic things that Marquette does do. I appreciate each and every course I have taken that was more of an idea generation course, where we take napkin-drawn thumbnails and produce them into portfolio-ready pieces. From what I gather, most businesses do market analyzation, diagnosis, and concept generation. Advertising is a hard program to teach because of its subjective nature that is hard to grade objectively.

In all honesty, maybe awareness is the key to the ad world. Without understanding the world around me, I cannot explain my world to the audience.

-Bryan Miguel

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