Monday, February 2, 2015

Best teaching ever? Let your students tell the story.

I want to tell a short story. It's about how to motivate students, share the realities of life, and make them engage on their own terms. It happened last night at our Appalachian State University Advertising Club meeting. And, it came from an unexpected individual.

Meet Matt Linville. Matt graduated from our advertising program in 2010. He's somewhat of a rarity, in that he tracked through our business (rather than creative) emphasis in the major. I remembered Matt, had him in a Media & Society class and on one occasion had lunch with him regarding a summer internship at Beach Mountain Resort. I might have called him nondescript; truthfully, we didn't have a strong connection and we lost touch over time.

Then, enter LinkedIn. We made our connection and shared a few messages. Matt was moving on and up in his early career stages. I became more interested in the journey. What ever he had, what ever he was doing, it was working. I started to think about Matt's success and the current state of our students. Why not put them all in a room to talk? I asked Matt to attend an ad club meeting as a guest speaker. He accepted.

What transpired last night was rather magical. Matt presented in humble form, with a no-nonsense approach. No magic short cuts, no tricky resume advice. Matt just told the truth. Pick up the phone and call. Don't send resumes to HR email addresses and expect responses. Network. Meet people. Ask for the meeting.

Sometimes, students seem to be more fragile than they used to be. There is fear in engaging the job market. Modern paradigms support a perception you need a grad degree, or a creative "finishing school" program, to compete for a spot in a big agency.

Matt stated otherwise. He told us about how he had student loans and needed a job. He cold-called his way into seeing an exec at BBDO in Atlanta. He got an internship there. He made it happen, he got it done. Students asked questions, actually more questions than I have ever seen them posit at any other ad club event. Who was this student, one of them, who was going straight out of App State into a major agency role?

Matt's at a new start up agency in Charlotte now, focusing on search engine and ad copy projects for Dick's Sporting Goods. He's learning, he's growing, Matt has his sites set on becoming a manager for a marketing team. I might say more, but actually, Matt said it all. When you want the best teaching ever, let your student tell the story.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and an inspiring story. Business is often best conducted "the old fashioned way."