Advertising course provides students with cutting edge education in shopper marketing

Posted on: January 25, 2017

IMG_8845In the fall semester of 2016, the MSU Department of Advertising + PR brought back a course quickly growing in popularity called “Foundations in Advertising, Shopper Marketing and Brand Activation.” Students in the class receive the most current education in shopper marketing through lessons created by professionals in the field, teaching them techniques used in the real world today.

The online class, instructed by Joe Videan, an adjunct professor and MSU advertising alumnus based in London, focuses on the combination of advertising and sales based on data derived from patterns of in-store purchases, consumer behavior and demographics. The course is co-taught by Geometry Global, the world’s largest brand activation network and a driving force behind the program at MSU.  

Videan said executives from Geometry Global devote a lot of time, resources and insight to the course. Twelve representatives from the company offered their knowledge to the online modules given to students. Videan explained that the lessons provide them with an up-to-date education about various tools and topics related to shopper marketing, directly from people who are using the same techniques in their careers.

“The industry is changing incredibly fast, so you won’t find much of the material in a book – as soon as ink hit’s paper, a book would become obsolete by the time it reaches students,” said Videan. “A lot of this material that they’re having access to (in the class) is brand new. It’s the stuff that’s being distributed and used at Geometry Global and in the private sector right at this moment.”

Real-world opportunities

In addition to educating MSU students in the current practices of shopper marketing, Geometry Global offers internships to students who excel in the course. After the first class in the spring of 2016, Geometry Global hired two students as summer interns and subsequently offered them full-time positions.

Students interested in internships with Geometry Global apply and are later evaluated during the final presentations they give at the end of the semester. Advertising senior Julianne Frontiero, a student in the fall 2016 course, received a position for the summer of 2017. She will be working at Geometry Global’s location in Chicago.

“I am still surprised that I was able to be offered an amazing opportunity. I am not very good at interviews, I overthink questions and (they) have always been a weakness of mine,” said Frontiero. “So, for me to be able to work with a group and present and really show who I am within the presentation as well as the ideas and plans we came up with as a team was perfect.”

Collaborating to create

For the fall semester, students were assigned a brand for women, Dove and their #SpeakBeautiful project, in partnership with Target stores. They were required to come up with a unique campaign, then give a final presentation and pitch their ideas to a panel, including representatives from Geometry Global. In the previous class, students developed campaigns for Axe, a line of men’s hygiene products.

“Doing a group project is integral to this class because the advertising industry works in groups,” said Videan. “You don’t work in advertising in isolation.”

Dakshaini Ravinder, an advertising senior who completed the class in the fall, said the presentation was a legitimate experience similar to what she may encounter in her future as an advertiser. She called it “challenging and stimulating.”

“To me, the hardest part was coordinating the time schedule between the team to make it work,” said Ravinder. “The course created a real-life situation where the problem was posed with very minimal time to arrive at a solution, just like in agencies, where the client wants everything yesterday.”

A class unlike any other

Videan said the class requires students to put their best foot forward at all times. He reminds them that there’s more to take away from the course than a 4.0, considering all of the potential industry connections and internship opportunities being offered.

“I think that it probably delivers the closest slice of real life that you can get in a lot of the classes that Michigan State offers,” said Videan. “It’s just because of the nature of the material … delivering on a live brief from the client, putting together a presentation and then presenting it and being questioned by the judges. It’s pretty full on.”

By Savannah Swix

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Senior learns about culture and creativity through on-campus internship

Posted on: January 19, 2017

Picture1As the editor of her high school yearbook during her senior year, advertising senior Sarah Goodyear knew she wanted to continue her passion for visual art.

“I really enjoy designing, but designing for a purpose,” Goodyear said. “I think it’s awesome to be able to give a company or organization a voice. Each place I’ve worked for has had their own style. That’s really exciting to me.”

Goodyear is currently using her minor in graphic design as an intern in the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) at Michigan State University. She has been creating graphics for OISS since May 2016. She designs flyers, event posters and social media graphics for any event or internal messaging that needs a visual component.

“When I am first given the content for the graphic I am supposed to create, I look over the content and decide what is the most important piece of information to highlight,” Goodyear said. “I decide how to lay out the information on the page, starting with the text. Sometimes I even draw it out. I love it, because I pretty much have complete creative freedom, as long as I make sure I am sticking with the brand standards for MSU and OISS.”

Her favorite part of this internship is working with the people in the office.

“It’s been so much fun learning about different cultures,” Goodyear said. “I never would have seen myself working with so many different people with different backgrounds, so it’s definitely been one of my favorite places to work.”

Goodyear said she collaborates with other staff members and students on a daily basis and that she is fortunate to work on campus.

“Working for an MSU department is awesome,” Goodyear said. “I feel like a part of the university as a whole.”

Goodyear said that her coworkers and different experiences she has encountered in the office helped prepare her for a trip to Shanghai, China in November. She was part of a group of students from the Department of Advertising + PR that competed in the annual One Show Greater China Festival.

“My supervisor, Skyin, is from China, so she was giving me a lot of helpful information," Goodyear said. "So many other people in the office already having that international experience made it a lot easier of a transition once I got over there.”

She also participated in the Minds (Wide) Open competition at MSU in September and her team received second place for their creative campaign ideas.

Minds (Wide) Open has a concept similar to the competition in China, but on a smaller scale. Goodyear was on a team with one other American and five Chinese students and, together, they created a fully-integrated ad campaign for their client.

There were 80 students from various parts of the world that came to MSU for Minds (Wide) Open. After Goodyear’s experience at the One Show Greater China Festival in Shanghai, she better understood the barriers that one has to overcome when developing and designing a campaign in a foreign country.

“It was a great experience, but pretty challenging,” Goodyear said. “The whole competition was in Chinese, so there was a language barrier. The students were great and we had translators, which was helpful, but it made it harder to work on the brief. Both competitions were incredible experiences.”

The client in China was Snickers and they had to develop a campaign around the popular Chinese app, QQ. Goodyear said it was most difficult to come up with ideas for QQ, since their team had just been introduced to the app.

Goodyear also designs for The Red Cedar Log, MSU’s yearbook. The photographers and writers send her photos and content and then she designs the pages.

“It’s really fun reading all of the stories in the yearbook,” Goodyear said. “There are some really awesome student groups that I have never heard of before.”

After graduation in May 2017, Goodyear would like to end up at an agency where she can use creative freedom and express her ideas.

“I am super thankful for MSU and my classes here,” Goodyear said. “If I went to a different school, I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities.”

By Meg Dedyne

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MSU Advertising alum holds a sweet and savory position with Frito-Lay

Posted on: November 28, 2016

Chris Kuechenmeister graduated from the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences in 1995 with a bachelor’s in advertising and a specialization in public relations. After spending his early career in agencies working with clients on corporate reputation and brand building projects, Kuechenmeister found his place with Frito-Lay, a sector of PepsiCo. Stationed in Dallas, he has been with Frito-Lay for 8 years, serving as the vice president of communications for the last two and a half years.

Before his current position, Kuechenmeister worked in Detroit in agencies that served the auto industry. He spent a few years in North and South Carolina agencies, as well as in a corporate communications role with Michelin. His last stop before Dallas was Los Angeles, where he spent six years working on the agency side of the industry.

“I feel the diversity of roles, responsibilities and work settings I’ve had helped prepare me for my current role,” said Kuechenmeister. “Having a multi-disciplined background provides a helpful foundation for the various twists and turns this career brings.”

Kuechenmeister says he has always been very open to new opportunities – a mindset that has helped advance his career. He says he aims to grow with each challenge.kuechenmeister-1

“When there are bumps in the road–which always come–I do my best to learn from each situation and apply it to my future,” said Kuechenmeister.

As the VP of Communications for Frito-Lay North America, he leads a team that manages all internal and external communications for the company, including external media relations for 30-plus brands, internal communications with 55,000 associates, community relations and more.

His fast-paced job also includes day-to-day tasks that vary from managing new product launches to generating media coverage.

“The variety keeps things interesting and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Kuechenmeister.

Since PepsiCo is a globally recognized organization, Kuechenmeister says, “the possibilities from a communications standpoint are endless.”

He works his hardest to remain thoughtful and structured while immersed in a leadership position that continually presents unforgettable opportunities.

Kuechenmeister says he has had many memorable experiences, but the best are those when he and his team can have a positive impact on the lives of consumers. One of these memorable experiences was during the Tostitos sponsored Fiesta Bowl.

“The brand‘s positioning was all around bringing people together to share memorable experiences, and we created a surprise reunion for some members of the military stationed in Iraq with their families back in the states,” said Kuechenmeister. “These families had been apart for several months and being involved with them reuniting was pretty special.”

Kuechenmeister continues to be inspired by his organization and all the people in it. And as a consumer, Kuechenmeister says his favorite Frito-Lay product is Wasabi Ginger Lay’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.

“The people at Frito-Lay and PepsiCo are committed to doing the best work they can - providing great products for our consumers and supporting our fellow associates all along the way,” he said. “It creates a high-performance atmosphere and the feeling that you can achieve your true potential.”

By Lily Clark

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Advertising professor works to eradicate bullying from schools and universities

Posted on: November 7, 2016

Bullying is a chronic issue for school administrators and instructors. With social media acting as an additional digital environment for students,alhabash-saleem-20150925-6588 the name-calling and destructive criticism has become even harder to contain.

Saleem Alhabash, Assistant professor in the MSU Department of Advertising + Public Relations, was invited to speak about his research studying cyberbullying and why people don’t report or take action against bullies online as a panelist for Defeat The Label, a social
movement that promotes inclusivity and acceptance in schools around the world. The group hosted its first community conversation about bullying in Novi, Mich. in October.

MSU’s partnership with Defeat The Label was orchestrated by an East Lansing local and longtime university employee Kevin Epling. Epling began advocating against bullying more than a decade ago after his middle school aged son committed suicide as a result of being bullied by fellow students.

“I’ve been doing some work on cyberbullying and Kevin tried to connect us with Defeat The Label,” said Alhabash. “We organized this community conversation that gathered school administrators from different parts of the state, school educators, students and parents and other people to try to talk about what can we do to promote non-bullying in our schools.”

Alhabash’s research focuses heavily on college students, emphasizing how bullying does not end when a student graduates high school and joins a college campus. He explained that 20 percent of Michigan State University college students report being bullied – in person and online – and 70 percent say they have seen someone else being bullied. He said it can be seen in greek life, dorms and in the classroom.

“It is still happening but no one is talking about it because there’s a big stigma that bullying is something for young people and we don’t want to chat about it,” said Alhabash. “The work that I’m trying to do now is trying to shift the discussion from the stigmatized bullying and cyberbullying and specifically talk about aggression and digital aggression.”

Alhabash recommends that system and software designers implement more strict policies to curb the prevalence of online bullying. More simply, he said, people can take action by reporting harmful content and speech as well as keeping a record of it.

“When you see something mean happening online record it. Take a screenshot,” said Alhabash. “Grab it any way because past experiences have shown that some of these aggressive behaviors online can turn into really bad things such as a person committing suicide or someone telling someone to commit suicide.”

At the panel, Alhabash said educators responded well to what he had to say, but they questioned how to promote kindness in the classroom when the current political climate of the presidential election is based on bullying.

“It’ll be interesting to see after this election campaign how the rates of bullying and cyberbullying go up,” said Alhabash.

By Savannah Swix

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ComArtSci returns to China!

Posted on: October 31, 2016


Lansing > Chicago > Shanghai

On Nov. 2, students from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences – myself included – will board a flight to Shanghai, China to represent Michigan State University at the annual One Show Greater China Festival.

I am kind of in shock that we are so close to leaving. It has been such a crazy and exciting time preparing for this trip. As a journalism student, I am in the minority among the larger group of advertising students selected to compete in China. Most of them were on the winning teams of the second Minds (Wide) Open competition that took place at ComArtSci in September – a similar event to what they will experience in China but without the home court advantage.

While they’re exercising their creative geniuses and coming up with an idea that will bring an award to East Lansing, I will be working with a second journalism student and a videographer to document the experience and share with everyone back at home.

The One Club China Youth Creative Festival brings together hundreds of students from all over China to collaborate and create a unique advertising campaign in pursuit of the ultimate prize: the Golden Pencil, which is described essentially as a job offer in China. In past years, Michigan State University has been the only non-Chinese participating university. On both of the occasions that MSU has competed, at least one team has brought home a prize – Silver and Bronze Pencils.

We arrive in Shanghai on Nov. 3, but the competition doesn’t open until the next day, so we’ll have some time to settle in before getting started.

On the first day, all of the students participating in the competition will be divided into groups and given their brief. In past years, they have worked on companies like Microsoft and BMW. From that point, they will work with their teams and a professional mentor to come up with an idea and bring it to life. Only a few teams move on to the final judging.

This year will be different than the last two trips because rather than merging the students with teams of Chinese students, there will be two MSU-only teams. Everyone seems really interested to see how this change will translate to the teams’ success in the competition. Spartans Will, right?

I can’t wait to get started and see what China has in store for us!

Follow our adventure on Instagram (@ShanghiMSU) and our blog.



By Savannah Swix

Savannah is a senior studying journalism at MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences.



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Advertising senior learns the power of ‘thank you’ at her internship

Posted on: October 21, 2016

cassandrajonesIn one summer, advertising senior Cassandra Jones learned the importance of balance, working with a team in a professional setting, asking questions and the power of a simple thank you.

Jones interned with IPG Mediabrands in Birmingham, Michigan, as a diversified portfolio management intern.

So, what exactly does a diversified portfolio management intern do?

“I was the link between our clients and people that wanted us to advertise with them,” Jones said. “I also got to work on a campaign for Google from the ground up; everything from budget to creative ideas. We got to pitch it to Google at the end of the summer which was an amazing experience.”

Other aspects of her summer internship included helping clients and advertisers establish the creative avenues that were best for them and what they could afford.

“At my internship, I really learned how to balance a 40-hour work week and the rest of my life,” Jones said. “I learned to not be afraid of asking questions when I didn’t understand something.”

One thing Jones really liked about IPG is that everyone was very family-oriented, warm and willing to help, no matter what department they were in.

Jones stressed the importance of sending a personal thank you card and how she believes this made her stand out before she obtained the internship with IPG.

“Always say thank you!” Jones said. “I think that really stood out to them.”

Once obtaining an internship, Jones’ advice is to go above and beyond what your employer is asking of you. She also added that you shouldn’t be afraid of rejection. Sometimes it takes applying for several internships or jobs before you find the right fit for you.

“I worked really hard and ended up with a job offer at the end of the summer and other students who had graduated, were offered jobs too,” Jones said.

Beyond the internship

Jones really enjoyed her experience and likes the idea that public relations and advertising can mold people’s perceptions. However, she is also interested in event planning and doing public relations for a professional sports team.

“I was pretty much the event planner for all of my friends throughout high school,” Jones said. “And so I thought, what could I do for the rest of my life that I loved so much that I wouldn’t care if I got paid? Event planning came to mind.”

Her love of sports came from playing them growing up and being in the Spartan Marching Band for four years.

“Even if I am not playing sports, I still want to be around the atmosphere,” Jones said. “It’s great to be around that dedication and drive.”

ComArtSci connections

Jones recommends that other students attend the ComArtSci Connect Career Fair in the spring for internships, full time positions and also to network with companies and agencies. She added that she obtained her internship with IPG after speaking with them at the career fair.

She is currently working as the student communications assistant for culinary at MSU and attributes her success to the experience she has attained through the help of ComArtSci and the career services office.

By Meg Dedyne

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Building brands and crossing borders: Insights from the 2nd ‘Minds (Wide) Open’

Posted on: October 11, 2016


On Sept. 16, after a week of long days and sleepless nights, students from Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences and around the world pushed through exhaustion and language barriers to present their final campaigns as a part of the second Minds (Wide) Open event.  

The 2016 competition focused on the company Airbnb – a concept proposed by TBWA, one of the advertising agencies supporting the event. Students were presented with the brief at the start of the week and from there they worked together, all day and night for four days, to come up with a creative campaign to promote the brand.

“We gave them a few of the things that Airbnb uses, but I think what we gave them was license to explore and take the whole idea of Airbnb wherever they would imagine it would have some kind of an impact,” said Henry Brimmer, assistant professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations and lead director of the Minds (Wide) Open competition. “I think what we can contribute to these companies when they give us a brief is a fresh viewpoint by a generation that can allow them to gain insight to how younger people perceive their company.”

The teams were a mix of students from across the world including the United States, Germany and China. Each team was allotted two expert mentors who traveled to East Lansing from agencies in Spain, South Africa and Germany to take part in the event.

Sergio Alonso, a mentor from Droga5, said the experience brought back memories of what it was like to work on a brief as a beginner.

“For most of the students, this was the first time they were confronted with this kind of task. So my goal as a mentor didn't only involve guiding them to put a campaign together but also teaching them how to think,” said Alonso who was partnered with fellow mentor Terry Sieting from Traction in Lansing. “It was very rewarding for both of us to walk our students through the process of crafting a campaign from scratch and witness their progress along the way.”

Brimmer emphasized the generosity of the mentors for participating in the competition. He thanked them for encouraging and inspiring students to create amazing work and memories that they can take with them beyond the college stage.

“(The mentors) became so involved with their own teams. They got into their teams. They became part of their teams,” Brimmer said. “They became a little family for the duration of the event.”

At the end of the competition, the top teams were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for their work.

Gold Winners

The team that took home the first place prize presented a campaign based on the slogan, “Be yourself without borders.” The advertising tactics they presented were intended to help people see the potential for open self-expression through travel with Airbnb. The idea included short documentaries, a microsite to help users find the location that suits their personality, and a program to help people who want to become hosts.

One of the ideas involved the construction of “tiny homes” to showcase in an outdoor event. Each home would be designed to attract different types of people such as athletes, creatives, or artists.


“Inside these homes, users (would be) able to use virtual reality goggles to travel to places that fit the characteristics of the home they chose to visit,” said Savannah Benavides, MSU advertising senior.

Benavides said that Minds (Wide) Open had her “falling in love with the creative process all over again.” She added that her team’s win wouldn’t have been possible if not for their collaborative success.

“My teammates were impressive, kind, and passionate. Our mentors were unbelievably honest and constructive,” Benavides said. “I can confidently say that if we weren’t able to come together and get along and support each other the way that we did, there is no way we could have taken home the gold.”

Silver Winners

“Become untourist" was the slogan of the silver award-winning team who presented the idea of stepping away from traditional tourism and exploring with Airbnb.

mwo2We wanted to show how Airbnb can heal people of typical tourism. We wanted people to become untourist,” said Matt Richter, senior advertising student.

The team developed a plan to educate people about the perils of tourism through a campaign that involved print, radio and television spots, animation, a rehabilitation program with “6 Steps to Become Untourist," and social media.   

Richter called his Minds (Wide) Open experience “incredible.”

“I think my favorite part of the competition was one of the major hurdles we had to overcome as a team: the language barrier. Working with a translator was something completely new to me, and I don't know why, but it made the event all the more exciting,” Richter said. “Coming together from three different countries to create one, international ad campaign is amazing.”

Bronze Winners

As the only American on his team, MSU senior Quinn Lutkenhoff said that winning their bronze award did not come without challenges. He credited their translator for helping the team to communicate.

Without her the team would have failed,” Lutkenhoff said. “She was responsible for the flow of communication and even contributed some brilliant ideas.”

The team’s campaign revolved around the concept of trust, which Lutkenhoff said is a major aspect of Airbnb’s brand. They used trust falls, the act of falling backwards into another person’s arms, as a way to express their idea.

“We even bridged the gap into the community and asked our friends from all over the world to send us videos of trust falls,” Lutkenhoff said. “And with all that collaboration, we developed a touching video advertisement that could be viewed and start an interactive trend across social media and many other mediums.”

In addition to building his professional skills, Lutkenhoff added that he enjoyed building relationships and new friendships with his team members during Minds (Wide) Open.

It was cool to see that even though we live in different countries and speak different languages, we really weren't all that different,” he said.

By Savannah Swix

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New advertising course allows students to learn from potential employers

Posted on: August 24, 2016

unspecified-3Last year, a unique, new advertising course through MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences taught students about two of the most important areas of the field: shopper marketing and brand activation.

“Shopper marketing is a marriage between data and targeted to deliver selling messages to the right people in the right place at the right time. Brand activation essentially brings the brand and its key benefits to life,” said Joe Videan, course creator. “Both definitions are constantly evolving because both areas are evolving. Two things are certain: Shopper marketing is the fastest growing area of advertising and anyone studying advertising needs to get under its principles or be left behind.

The course, “Foundations in Advertising, Shopper Marketing and Brand Activation,” was also instructed by Videan, an adjunct professor in Advertising + PR. His inspiration for the course stemmed from an idea to bring students and businesses together to build skills demanded in the real world.

With that concept in mind, Videan partnered with Geometry Global, the world’s largest Brand Activation Network, to collaborate on the course.

“If the private sector – the business world – wants to hire graduates who are ready to hit the ground running in their careers, it needs to make a contribution to their education,” Videan said. “My idea was to bring the two together. MSU has one of the United States' largest advertising schools. Geometry Global is the world's largest shopper marketing and brand activation agency – a perfect fit.”

Videan said the course encountered some of the typical challenges of a new course, as well as those posed by hybrid courses. Hybrid courses are defined as classes which substitute some traditional time in the classroom with online learning. Videan’s class met in-person at the start and end of the course. In between, students and instructors communicated online via video tutorials, through interaction on a Facebook group and Skype sessions.

One of the things that Videan tried to accomplish with the course was to teach the subject in a way that students learned and enjoyed it. He said this was a tricky feat considering he lives in London, the senior vice president of Geometry Global was in New York, and the students were in Michigan.

“Another challenge is that this course is not just theory, it involves a lot of practical application,” Videan said. “It is not your typical class where you listen to a lecture, take notes, write a paper or two and take an exam. Students need to demonstrate that they understand the material by producing work of their own.”

unspecified-2The end of the course was a true showing of what the students learned. They gathered in teams to develop a campaign for a multinational company and presented a brief about their plan to the president of Geometry Global and three senior vice presidents. Videan said the opportunity for students to demonstrate their new knowledge and work with professionals opened doors to internship possibilities. Four students were offered positions with Geometry Global following their presentations, he said.

The course is being offered again in the upcoming fall semester. Videan explained that one of the major benefits of the course is a current and up-to-date education about the field of advertising, rather than one based on a three- or four-year-old textbook.

“Some of the principles are the same, but the tactics, motives and methods have evolved. What makes this course different is that it provides up to the minute – literally in some cases – industry best practice,” Videan said. “So in effect, when students who (have completed) the course leave MSU, they are ready to hit the ground running in shopper marketing. This is very attractive to both advertisers and advertising agencies.”

The course (ADV 492, Section 741) is currently still accepting students for the Fall 2016 semester.

By Savannah Swix


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ADV Seniors interning at Edge Partnerships

Posted on: June 28, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.31.36 AMSummer time for Leigh Fitzpatrick and Raquel Izzo will consist of writing press releases, developing social media promotions, event coordinating and more. The two Advertising seniors recently started as Public Relations interns for Edge Partnerships in Lansing.

After just a few weeks on the job, both Fitzpatrick and Izzo expressed that they’re constantly learning and testing their ComArtSci educations every day.  

I have learned so much about writing and the way different businesses use social media,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’m also learning a lot about the media and how different divisions work to cover a story.”

Work experience means a lot for future growth and allows students to use the skills they’ve gained in their classes and extracurriculars in the real world. Both Fitzpatrick and Izzo explained that they have felt wholly prepared to succeed in their new positions.

“I think (ComArtSci), in general, prepares you for your professional life. Not only the course material, but how to read a situation and problem solve,” said Fitzpatrick. “I have experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ in this position, but I feel fully capable to accomplish anything that’s thrown at me.”

Izzo stated that the communication and writing skills that she has learned in her Advertising and Journalism classes have been especially useful to her position and working on tasks for clients. A few of Edge Partnerships clients that Izzo has been assisting are the Country Club of Lansing and the Michigan Press Association, particularly with their social media accounts.

“I am enjoying being able to make people happy. I like writing little reminders or little exciting things to keep people interested,” said Izzo. “Soon I will be able to work on event(s) and I am really looking forward to doing that. I want to be an event planner so being able to help and work on events will be right up my (alley)!”

As the summer continues, Fitzpatrick seems optimistic that her internship will further solidify the sense of belonging she feels in the Public Relations field.

“I enjoy that every day is different. I learn something new every time I walk into the office. I get to work with talented, smart people, who care about teaching me the importance of this business. I get to tell our clients stories and build their brands,” she said. “Public relations is absolutely the place for me, and I’m thankful that Edge has given me the opportunity to grow as a young professional.”

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Field Experience class offers opportunity to build connections in big cities

Posted on: June 13, 2016

LA 2016 Group Photo 2Many students fantasize about starting fresh in a big city after graduation, perhaps this is especially true for a few Midwesterners. However, some students’ impressions of city life might be solely based on word of mouth and what they see on TV.

A special Field Experience course at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences offers an opportunity for students to travel to New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles to learn the “ins and outs” of various media organizations, network with professionals – including Spartan alumni – and get a taste of life in the city.

The Los Angeles Study Away primarily caters to students pursuing career paths in Advertising, Public Relations or Production. A group of over 20 students interested in entering the entertainment industry traveled to Los Angeles for a week with the program at the beginning of May. On the list of companies they visited was Princess Cruises, The Walt Disney Company, Deutsch, mOcean, Miramax, Universal McCann, Fox Studios and more. At each company, students were given the chance to speak with men and women at the top of their fields and ask them questions as well as tour the facilities.

I had a ton of great experiences on the LA trip, but some of my favorites were going on office tours within agencies. It really gave you a good perspective of each company culture, how things function, and a broad perspective of life in an agency,” said senior Emmy Virkus who traveled to Los Angeles with the group. “When I visited specific agencies, some I liked more than others simply because of the people and the environment, which made me want to have that same experience once I start working.”

Julie Hagopian, an Academic and Career Advisor, coordinated the program with alumni and companies that wanted to offer unique opportunities to students.

“Every visit (in Los Angeles) was made possible because we had an alumni working at the organization or because an alum made an introduction,” said Hagopian. “Our students learned a lot about the many opportunities within the industry, but one of the biggest takeaway that students gain are the connections and realizing that Spartans truly do help Spartans.”   

Andrew Corner is the instructor for the Field Experience classes. He has led three trips to both New York City and Chicago, and this most recent Los Angeles venture was his second time taking students to the West Coast with the program.

In preparation for each trip, Corner said students are required to attend three sessions on campus during which they learn more about the industry and gather research about the companies they will be visiting.

Corner explained that there are several goals that each trip aims to achieve for students, using Los Angeles as an example, “Number one is to give students a way to really find out what it’s like. It’s one thing to think you want to work in the entertainment industry because you like Disney movies. It’s another thing to get out there and see what it’s really like to live there and hear from people who have made that transition.”

He added that building relationships with people who live and work in the area is another primary goal.

Senior Christopher Cleary also traveled to Los Angeles in May and discovered that many of the people that they met started their careers as interns and worked toward the success that they have achieved today.

“It taught me that getting a foot in the door just by being in California is the first thing I need to do,” Cleary said. “Then just do what all Spartans do best, work well!”

Cheyenne Yost, a Communication and Public Relations graduate from the class of 2015, moved to Los Angeles after graduation with help from a connection she made during her Study Away trip last year. She was hired at a marketing/distribution company by MSU alum Libby DuBay.

The connections and experiences I established here (in Los Angeles) greatly influenced my decision to move out. I made some great friends on the trip that are also living out here now and I like to think of us as a Spartan family,” said Yost. “The alumni we met, encouraged us to reach our goals and work hard to achieve them. Libby has become someone that I look up to and someone that I can lean on if I need to. Like I said, we're all a Spartan family out here! Having that support and encouragement from other Spartans showed me that anything is possible.”

While Yost is no longer working for the same company, she is still confident that Los Angeles is a fit for her, “I may not have my dream job yet, but I am in the best place I can be,” she said.

The Study Away trip to Chicago in the fall is currently over capacity, but applications for students to participate in the New York City Field Experience next January are still being accepted. For more details or to apply for the trip, click here.

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