The Ad World: A Wake Up Call

Today was the last day of my advertising class. Though I have numerous friends in the major that have given me glimpses into the program, I knew very little about the advertising field prior to this class. This introduction to advertising opened my eyes to a world that I never knew existed: the ad world.

My professor, Barry Solomon, is one of the most intelligent and inspirational professors at Florida State, and it was such a privilege to be one of his students.

Prior to enrolling in his course, I had heard such great things about him, but nothing could have prepared me for his class. His undeniable passion for advertising shines through each and every one of his lectures, and I can honestly say that his passion is what has inspired me to pursue this field.

Solomon taught us about the marketing mix, brand switching, the importance of conducting research, strategic planning, and everything else related to the specific aspects of advertising. I left class each day with a thirst to learn more; I could never get enough.

But the one lecture that taught me the most about the ad world was today’s lecture. And believe it or not, it had nothing to do with our test, workbook, or any new material. Instead, he wanted to tell us about the real world.

His presentation slides, which were often cheerful and bright, blared the words:

Only 11% of human resources administrators say that Millennials are hardworking. 

This came as a shock to most of the students. It truly was a wake up call.

75% of jobs in advertising are obtained through friends or referrals. 

“It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” 

Even if you have the most compelling resume with numerous phenomenal experiences, it still might not be enough. All of your hard work could own up to nothing when compared to a relationship.

Solomon didn’t tell us this for nothing. He wanted to give us a glimpse into the real world as a way to prepare us. And while I was shocked, I appreciated his honesty. This field can be extremely hard at times–it’s true–but I’ve seen enough to know that it can be incredibly worthwhile. And even though these statistics might give me a little anxiety, I know that this is what I want to do.

Solomon ended his lecture with a story.

When he was younger, Solomon read a story about a young boy and his grandfather, who lived at the beach. One day, there was a huge storm on the beach that brought extreme winds and a high tide. After the storm had passed the next day, the little boy saw dozens of starfish stuck in the sand. The grandfather told the boy that the starfish would most likely die since they couldn’t get back to the water. Hearing this, the boy began running along the beach, bringing starfish back into the water, one by one. Confused, the grandfather asked the boy, “Why are you doing this? You can’t simply save them all.” The little boy looked up at his grandfather and said, “You’re right, Grandpa. I can’t save them all. But if I can make a difference to just one of these starfish, it’ll be worth it.”

Solomon then said to the class:

“If I have touched any of your lives in any small way, that will be what makes it all worth it. You guys are the ones teaching me.”

I’m grateful for this class. I’m grateful for this wake up call. But most importantly, I’m grateful to have been one of Solomon’s students.

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