This article originally appeared on i-studentglobal on April 20, 2015
This year, I got an opportunity to attend FFWD Next Generation Agency Day, part of FFWD Advertising & Marketing Week, Toronto. This event runs for a week each year. It consists of various workshops, seminars, leadership conferences, galas, keynotes, and panel presentations discussing the current trends and future of the advertising and marketing industry. This year, brands such as Yahoo! Canada, Toronto Star, Ipsos Reid, Twitter, NHL, ComScore, Google participated.
The day started off early at TIFF Bell Lightbox with the registration process, followed by a light breakfast. I reached the venue early, as I was very excited to attend it. While I was waiting for my classmates from Humber’s Marketing Management program to arrive, I made new friends from other colleges in Toronto. There were approximately 300 students who had come to attend this event from all over Toronto and southern Ontario.
The first event was a panel discussion, which included professionals with at least six years of industry experience. It comprised people from Cossette, Real Interactive, Weber Shandwick, SapientNitro, and Padulo. The second panel consisted of people with one to three years’ experience. This panel was personally of high interest to me as it resonated more with where I am in my career. It had people from Ogilvy & Mather, One Advertising, MacLaren McCann, Media Experts, Juniper Park, etc.
Both panels had a good mix of people—from account management to digital to production to media buying and planning. They mainly focused on their career history, how they got their first break, why they like working in this industry, and how they got their first job. They shared their life lessons and provided us with tips on how to get an internship in this industry.
Some of their tips were eye-opening. It taught me to not to over-think it and just dive into whatever opportunity you get. According to them, it usually takes two to three years to figure out what you truly like doing, and you only get to know that once you start working in that field. One of the tips that stood out to me from this panel was: Learn the culture of wherever you are applying to. As much as the company is trying to find a good ‘fit’ for the team, it is equally important that you attempt to find out if the culture of that company is a good ‘fit’ for you!
For the second half of the day, all of us were taken to our respective assigned agencies. I was assigned to attend SapientNitro – a digital agency. The agency rep gave us a quick tour of the office. At a first glance, the agency with its rustic look was beautiful and elegant. To my surprise,theyhad roughly 400 employees in their Toronto office!
Since all of us were hungry, we broke into a pizza lunch session with other staff from the agency. In no time, it became a small informal networking event. I got an opportunity to talk to various team members ranging from IT to digital marketing to account management department. The culture and the people in the agency were just amazing. I met one person, and that one person introduced me to her colleague, and the introduction chain helped me meet all of them in no time. I was so excited to learn about their stories that I did not get any time to eat!
Similar to the first session, there were panel Q&A discussion sessions lined up for us at Sapient – one with experienced professionals and another one with recent hires. Both the sessions helped us to learn more about the agency and the kind of work they do.
Following these sessions, they had planned something interesting for us – a real time project to work on! We were asked to create a digital campaign for one of their clients. With only 45 minutes in hand, we were expected to brainstorm, come up with a campaign idea, plan the campaign, and prepare to present our ideas in front of the senior managers of the agency. The senior managers gave us valuable feedback on what they liked about our presentation, what we could improve on, how they would have solved the problem, etc. This exercise truly gave us a real hands-on experience.
This session made us put on our thinking hats, but hey, the day was not over yet! Along with my new friends, I headed towards the Pilot to attend the networking and social event organized by the event organizers. It was a full-circle for us – we met our classmates again, and all of us had great stories and new friends to introduce to each other!
Some inspiring words from the event:
"We are and always will be an ideas-based economy."
"Revolve your life around trying to make an idea the best it can."
“You have 8 seconds to make or break your first impression in an interview!”
"If you give the client what they want, you are a waiter. Do you want to be a waiter or a chef?"
“If you do a great job, people will remember it and they'll remember you."
“Managing relationships will take you a long way.”
“Find your niche and be valuable!”
“Never say no & embrace the yes.”